Yesterday marked my 10,000th tweet sent (bizarrely it was a tweet commenting on the fact that Penguin have finally joined the digital age and published my books on Kindle – 10,000 tweets, 4 years of asking, but now finally done!). I have been a member of Twitter since 2008, and opened my current Twitter account (@workforcetrends) in March 2009.

10,000 tweets: Is it worth it?

Research shows that most businesses and professionals like myself get very little direct business benefit from using social media, and that less than 16% of business leaders use social media professionally. So, why do I do it? There are a number of reasons:

  • Firstly, contrary to what the research says, I actually have received quite a bit of direct business from it. I speak, write and research for a living, and I rely on people knowing about me as an expert for their conferences, leadership programmes and for board advice. A lot of this comes through word of mouth and people searching for experts online – my social media feeds help keep my rankings high. It also comes from people who saw me speak and a reminded to use me again at future events. If they’re connected to me via social media there is a constant reminder of my existence: a way to keep top of mind.
  • Building my profile. This is something is vital for a person like myself who sells a public profile. But actually is more important than many people think for everyone in every job. You see, in today’s world of work, your security comes not from “the system” but from your CV (your resume). This is the record of everything you’ve done and everything you are. Having a blog – even something you just post 200-300 words to a week, is a great way to show who you are and what you’re doing, and to prove your expertise.
  • Proving my expertise. My social media feeds are mainly used for three things. The first is to highlight blog posts that I’ve written. Whenever I write a blog entry (on one of a number of blog sites I write for), my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds pick this up and alert my network to what I’ve written. I also regularly go back and highlight some of my favourite archive posts. I’ve been blogging consistently for ten years, so there is a great back catalogue to choose from now.
  • Secondly, I use social media to publish a few other people’s blogs. There are a few people I really admire and who’s blogs I always read. I’ve set up automated systems so that when they blog something, my social media feeds automatically pick these up and tweet them. I don’t have a lot of these, as I don’t want to flood my network, but it’s mainly a way of alerting ME that these people have just said something.
  • Which leads to the third use for my social media feeds, and that is to be a bookmark for myself. If I see a website or an article or a video that I’d like to remember, or a fact that’s interesting and worth remembering, I put it into one of my social media streams. If it’s something I know I can use in an upcoming book or article, I favourite it immediately. I often go back over old tweets in particular and re-read some of the articles I tweeted about.

I use Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the following ways:

  • Youtube has videos of me presenting, and excerpts from my presentations. Every now and again I might also upload a funny or interesting video, or one of the multimedia clips I use in my presentation. These are all gathered together in a Youtube channel. Video has become increasingly important as a tool to share information and promote yourself, especially as a speaker. Almost everyone who books me, looks at at least two of my videos. I upload new content regularly, and am currently working on a new set of promotional videos. I also have a ‘TV channel‘, developed together with our partners at YourBusinessChannel.
  • I have two Facebook pages: a business page which I use to share webpages and insights I have about my work; and a personal Facebook profile where I talk about my family, my hobbies, my interests, sport, politics, religion and a lot more. I am trying to remove “friends” on this personal profile that are not “real life” friends. People who want to see my personal side can subscribe to my public updates – I make those completely open. I use both Facebook profiles to let people see “behind the podium” and have insights into my thinking and my life. Some people like doing this. I keep in mind that anyone can read my profiles when choosing what to say and how to say it. So, for example, if a client is driving me nuts (and some do), I won’t rant about it on Facebook – they might be reading.
  • I use LinkedIn quite badly I think. I don’t need to be looking for work, but I do keep my profile updated and am a member of a number of groups that have interesting conversations. People use LinkedIn to contact me, and I redirect them continue the conversation by email.
  • I am on Google+, but it feels like a wasteland to me. I don’t put much energy into it.
  • Twitter is where I do most of my business work. As I said above, I use Twitter to keep track of my thoughts, research and information I want to access again. It’s really my bookmarks, captured online and shared with others. Honestly, I would do it if no-one followed me. I do track the number of people following me, but I don’t follow everyone back. I constantly trim the number of people I follow, and also make use of lists. I have a favourites list that has about 100 people on it, and if I add a new person I force myself to delete someone from this list. I really do follow about 1,000 people and their thinking quite closely (but if I miss a day or two, I don’t worry about it and I don’t go back and look at what I missed). I am not out to grow my followers artificially (I don’t understand people who follow 35,000 people and have 35,000 people following them back – I can’t see the value in that).

I do most of my social media work in two time slots: (1) at times I have set aside for research – as I am reading, I use social media to share what I am learning; and (2) in down times and blank times in my diary, often while waiting for a train or plane, or during breaks between sessions.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: I enjoy it.

That’s why I tweet.

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