Are mature professionals scared off Twitter?
Here’s the scenario. You’ve followed the rules, worked hard, established a family and burdened yourself with a mortgage that seems to be making the bank (not you) a bundle. Perhaps you’ve chosen to pay for private schooling, and unlike the image popularised by vested interests, you don’t drive a German supercar or follow the changing seasons from snow resort to beach house. In fact the closest you’ve come to a holiday home is that cubby house you built for the kids beside the sandpit in the backyard. But you’re not complaining. You’ve established a profession, and though you set your alarm early, you accept that this is the way to get ahead. Sure, material gain is one of your goals, and the closer you get to retirement the more important that becomes, but what you crave most is security and the steady progress that hard work is meant to bring.
And now the rules have changed. There’s social media, and content marketing, and websites that are no longer a luxury or easily derided as a plaything. In fact it doesn’t matter what you think, because your competitors are into it and spending good money to outpace you.
Let’s try Twitter
You get advice from a technologically adept colleague – “Get your feet wet with Twitter. It’s easy and only 140 characters”. What can go wrong with 140 characters?
The New York Times ran an article that addressed this issue with its typical journalistic panache:
Using Twitter sounds so simple. Type out no more than 140 characters — the maximum allowed in a single tweet — and hit send. That’s all, right? Not quite. Twitter’s interface may look simple, but it is not, and its complexity has turned off many people who tried the service.
I once used a corporate Twitter account to which, frankly, I paid little attention because it was awaiting the launch of a product (that never happened). I had registered an account to reserve my own name, but otherwise that account was dormant because I had no use for it. In retrospect – and this is a lesson worth learning for mature professionals like me – it would have been far better to start tweeting and not only slowly build the credibility of the account, but also get a handle (pun alert) on how to use it.
Setting up Twitter is the easy part
The setup could not be simpler – it’s deceptively easy. Choose a username (the “handle”), a password, fill in the bio and add an appropriate image (you, your firm logo but not you and the dogs at the beach in Santa hats). My bio @geoffreywinn is:
Lawyer. Content marketing for mature professionals. Bestselling author Bulletproof Your Life. Lifeguard worklife product. Middle-aged and learning.
After that it gets considerably more complicated. You need to learn how to tweet in 140 characters, the etiquette and the rules. And yes, grammar counts. What do hashtags mean? Where to put the @ symbol (it matters). How to retweet, how often, and where to place the retweet designation (I do it at the end – “via @username”). How and when to add comments when you tweet someone else’s article. How to balance the professional and personal tweets ( I have very little personal). How often to tweet? What tools to use (I use Buffer and love it). What proportion of your own work compared with references to others? Do you want to be a trusted content curator?
Have realistic expectations
I don’t want to be a wet blanket, it’s not neurosurgery and you will get the hang of it, but it will not be plain sailing, especially if you approach it with the intent to create a marketing tool for your firm.
I think this is the reason so many mature professionals discard Twitter before they have given it a chance. If you start with the expectation that it is a simple tool, you will quickly become frustrated, perhaps fatally so. Start slowly, don’t expect it to be straightforward, read a good guide (I like The Tao Of Twitter).
And take deep breaths.
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