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How to write the perfect tweet for your career

In honor of Twitter’s 10th anniversary, we're recapping what we know about how to pack a career punch in 140 characters.

How to write the perfect tweet for your career

Jack Dorsey sent the first public tweet into the world on March 21, 2006, writing "just setting up my twttr." In that same year, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline split, American Idol was the no. 1 show on TV, and that mind-numbing HeadOn commercial debuted. Feeling old?

Twitter has come a long way since then, too. It’s not only a go-to news source for people around the world but also a very useful platform for those who are looking to advance their careers. “It’s the perfect blend between LinkedIn and Facebook in that it combines your professional brand and your personality,” says Hannah Morgan, co-author of Social Networking for Business Success: Turn Your Ideas Into Income.

Unlike a lot of other social networks, what you post on Twitter is also searchable on Google—which means that recruiters and hiring managers could form positive or negative opinions based on your tweets. So you obviously want to be strategic with what you’re sending out.

Luckily, with a decade of tweets behind us, we have an idea of how you can be on the upside of that equation. Follow this rubric to pack a positive career punch in under 140 characters.

 

Showcase your expertise

Simply sharing news articles isn’t enough to help you build a brand—you need to add value, says Miriam Salpeter, author of Social Networking for Career Success and owner of Keppie Careers. That means digging deeper than skimming headlines. “You have to show you’ve actually read the article and demonstrate your expertise,” says Salpeter.

To do so, you might tease out an interesting statistic or snippet from the article, says Morgan. When possible, include the author’s handle in the tweet; interacting with media that cover your industry will increase your visibility, says Salpeter.

 

Add a visual

Research shows that tweets with photos get 313% more engagement. Thus, you’ll want to share pictures and infographics when it makes sense to do so; if you’re in the food industry, for instance, you might post a photo of a cool cooking technique. GIFs—now searchable on Twitter, like hashtags—often get retweeted, says Janet Fouts, author of Mindful Social Marketing.

 

Show some personality

Even though you’re using the social network as a career tool, you still want to give the Twitterverse a sense of who you are as a person. “You don’t want to be all business, all the time,” says Fouts.

Posting a cute dog video, per say, is kosher in moderation. “It’s okay to share something funny or lighthearted, but if you’re only tweeting puppy videos recruiters are going to wonder what it is you’re doing all day long,” says Salpeter. Also, add a little sophistication: Instead of leading with “LOL,” you might go with “great way to start the day!”

 

Use hashtags with restraint

Including two or three relevant hashtags is a great way to optimize your tweet for search engines, but anything more is overkill. “If you put too many hashtags, you don’t have room to say anything valuable,” Fouts points out.

Look at Hashtags.org and Hashtagify.me to see what’s trending. Live events, such as industry conferences and sports games (e.g., #MarchMadness), will boost your Twitter page’s visibility.

 

Follow the 80-20 rule

Self-promotional tweets (e.g., “really excited to be presenting at #SXSW!”) can help reinforce your expertise, but you don’t want your Twitter to look like a PR campaign. To strike the right balance, career coach Diane Crompton, author of Find a Job Through Social Networking: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and More to Advance Your Career recommends following a simple guideline: “80% of your tweets should provide value to your followers and 20% can be self-promotional.” Botch that ratio and you may have trouble retaining your follower base, she says.

 

Engage with purpose

Twitter breaks down barriers by giving you access to recruiters and industry leaders you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. However, proceed with caution, says Morgan. You need to first engage the person casually before you can go in with your "hire me" spiel. Then, once you’ve established rapport, it’s okay to send a private message saying that you want to learn more about the company. 

Look at what people are posting before you try to start a conversation. “You want to interact with people who are going to respond to you,” says Morgan. “If someone is just on Twitter to share their own content, look for other influencers.”

To spark conversation, share the person’s tweets, ask meaningful follow-up questions, and don’t be afraid to compliment their work: “A little ego stroking is appropriate on Twitter," says Morgan, "and it’s effective."
 

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