29 September 2020

Twitter strategy

I’ve never been an avid user of social media apart from Google+ (when it existed as a public, consumer version): writing to my heart’s content always had my preference, without necessarily worrying about the number of “likes” I could get. Comments would have been more interesting, if only they had been insightful or worth reading. For the most part, they were neither of those. That’s partly why I have not enabled any “social media” features on this website: if you really want to share an article with someone else, I trust you’ll know how to copy the URL of the page; and if you want to express your opinion, it’s easy enough to contact me.

Over the past couple of years, I did however start reading the tweets and the articles shared on Twitter by a few individuals. My work colleagues are also quite active on the medium. However, I never quite figured out my own magic formula. I was – and remain – not interested in simply being passive i.e. liking, retweeting, commenting on other tweets. I am exclusively keen in producing content that possesses some merit, either because it adds intellectual value to a discussion, or because I’m getting useful information I wouldn’t have been able to gather otherwise, or because I can draw readers to some of the work output I’m proud to share. On that last point, this is not to be confused with inconsequential and persistent promotion of everything I do (or what my team does, in the context of work), regardless of the relative merits of what is shared. Too often it seems, constant self-promotion or advertising of one’s company tends to exist in its own bubble: in short, this tends to be preaching to the choir.

The last challenge I had not resolved on whether to engage in social media was to define whether to use Twitter solely for professional purposes or allowing myself to mix in personal reflections as well. As such, I’ve only recently defined how I would want to use Twitter, alternating between the following types of tweets:

  • quotes from books I read – probably posted as images since those quotes may well be too long to fit in a single tweet (and tweet threads don’t offer an optimal reading experience);
  • links to stories I post;
  • interview-type questions for which I’m curious what people would be answering, possibly collecting gems along the way (for my stand-up comedy show or other projects) e.g. what’s something your parents did that you think was important for your development?
  • surveys and general questions, in particular work related e.g. for non-English native speakers, what are some great of examples of tech documentation you use?
  • answers to questions asked to me;
  • tips extracted from coaching sessions – leadership, management, project management, productivity, etc. This is something I already occasionally do in the daily updates I send to my team (something I’ve partially automated, as documented in the Apps Script / Productivity section of my projects).

One more rule: I refuse to use hashtags. Search works well enough without having to make reading more complicated with proliferating hashtags. In fact, if you pay close attention, the most interesting people seldom use hashtags. I like a clean presentation, with a pertinent choice of words, in particular one that doesn’t need to over-emphasise its message through the artificial use of annoying hashtags.

All those guidelines I’m setting for myself seem consistent with my goal of “adding value”, to others and to myself. To be clear, this is not about attracting “followers”: I’d rather have 100 true fans than a million followers (like I used to have on Google+) who seldom engage.

Now the real question is whether I’ll actually get started, if ever. It’s very likely that I would kick things off only once I have prepared some content in advance – the same kind of preparation that is most often necessary before launching any regular series (podcast, blog, etc.).

That’s all folks. Hopefully this article also has some useful nuggets for your own social media habits.