On Twitter, you only have 140 characters to express your opinions and communicate with the world. If you do it right, you can use the social network to your advantage, both personally and professionally. The problem is, many college students and recent graduates don't know how.
Millennials hear the phrase, "developing a personal brand" all too often. It's usually accompanied by statements like, "Don't post anything inappropriate; your future employer might see it," and, "Once it's on the Internet, it's there forever." This is valid and important advice, but the reason so many millennials don't take heed is because, while they know what they're supposed to do in theory, they don't know how to practice it successfully.
As a former internship coordinator, I saw a lot of applicants who didn't know how to use Twitter. Either they overshared and got too personal, or they were too cautious and dry. The key to developing a great personal brand is finding a balance between personal and professional, and doing so is simpler than you might think.
Consider your personality.
Before you do anything on Twitter, you should think about who you are as an individual. Are you serious and opinionated? Are you witty and funny? Are you a creative type? Ask yourself how your friends would describe you, and keep that description in mind as you post.
Consider your goals.
Now that you've got your personality down pat, think about what your goals are, personally and professionally. What are you passionate about? What are your career goals? Maybe you fit into a niche and would like to focus on a specific topic, like food, sports or fashion. Maybe you're a writer and your goal is to promote your work, or maybe you just aim to make people laugh.
Regardless of your goals, look at what other top Twitter users in your field are posting about and how they post it. Then, combine those examples with how you want your personality to shine online to create the base for your personal brand.
Watch your grammar.
It's all about the details. Just because you're on the Internet, doesn't mean you can forgo proper spelling and grammar. You'll be much more respected if you take the time to ensure that your posts are free of jarring errors, and your potential employers will see that you know what you're doing and have writing and self-editing skills. [The 10 Job Skills Employers Want ]
Cursing comes across as very unprofessional and in some cases, offensive. It's also an unnecessary way of getting your point across. For every time you want to swear in a tweet, stop and think about how you can say it in a more eloquent and appropriate way. After a while, it'll become second nature.
Use thoughtful hashtags.
Hashtags are great for spreading information, supporting a cause or expressing your personality, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Using too many hashtags can make your tweet illegible and can really annoy your followers. Try to stick to no more than two or three hashtags, and make sure they're not too long or distract from your overall message.
Keep it light.
A good rule of thumb: Never post anything on social media that you wouldn't want your grandmother to read. You can talk about anything you want, but err on the side of caution. You can tweet about dating, for example, but might want to leave the details for a private conversation. Try to avoid complaining or talking about heavy or upsetting subject matter too often as well, as you'll quickly lose followers.
Talk to your friends and followers.
Twitter isn't just about promoting your own thoughts and ideas; it's about connecting with people over common topics. Respond to your friends' tweets, tweet to your followers, and follow hashtags to find other people talking about what you're interested in. It's okay to engage in healthy, polite debates or share funny stories about your day-to-day life with your friends. It'll show your future employers that you're engaging and personable, too.
Talk to brands.
Twitter, more than any other social network, gives people a great opportunity to interact with their favorite brands and celebrities. Show the world (and your potential employers) that you're social media savvy by following and tweeting at brands and important people. You might be surprised at the responses and followers you get as a result.
If you can combine all of those things into 140 characters or less, you'll be well on your way to creating a brand that will help you reach your personal as well as professional goals.
Originally published on Business News Daily.