Six Best Practices and Tips for Being Professional on Twitter
January 30, 2019
We spend a lot of our time, both personally and professionally living online. What we do and say on social media networks can have a lot of impact on our careers—for better and even for worse. To get a stronger grasp of how to build a following and interact strategically online, let’s start with the 140-count world of Twitter.
In some cases, Twitter has helped small businesses flourish. For example, Houston resident Jacqueline Garza’s family’s restaurant La Casa Bakery was struggling with sales and one tweet turned everything around.
Not only do they have a huge online following, they’ve also become a destination for residents and tourists alike to get a taste of authentic Mexican pastries.
However, not every viral Twitter story is good for business or your career. In August 2018, a NASA intern was fired before starting on day one for using profane language on Twitter...in an exchange with a member of NASA’s space council.
Here’s how you can use Twitter like a pro:
1. Check the profiles of who you like and retweet
Through Twitter’s algorithm, our feed isn’t just filled with the people we choose to follow. We see the content our entire network engages with. You might see a funny Tweet of a dog skateboarding and press like without knowing that the profile of the user who Tweeted is otherwise filled with inappropriate or hostile content. And then you liking it could show up in the feed of your boss. It’s a complicated web, but liking, commenting or retweeting something by the wrong user could land you in hot water. One extra profile click could save you a lot of trouble.
2. Ask yourself: would I consider deleting this later?
Or, “if a prospective employer saw this, would they cancel my interview?” If the answer is “yes” to either question, then you should maybe reconsider pressing send. As most social media and web managers will tell you, “the internet is forever.” Even if you delete the Tweet, it’s still possible someone in the Twitterverse took a screenshot.
3. Keep a professional profile separate from your personal
Curating a Twitter following is a great way to bolster your authority in your field. If you’re a human resources guru and your feed is full of tips on conflict resolution, organizational development and industry advancements, then you’re building a strong profile with a clear point of view. However, if you want to become a thought leader through Twitter, consider making a personal account to share your opinions and thoughts on politics, pop culture and beyond. Or…
4. Make a disclaimer in your profile bio
No matter where you are in your company’s hierarchy, your social media footprint can have an impact on your career. Concerned about sharing opinions online and having them be reflective of where you work? Let your followers know outright, “opinions are my own.” It’s simple and highly effective.
5. Beware the bots
We all get that little flourish in our hearts when Twitter notifications say you got a new follower (just me?). Unfortunately, Twitter is rampant with bots and trolls that spam your feed and fill it with unwanted solicitations or abuse. Again, a little click can go a long way. If your new follower’s account is full of promises that you can “work from home and earn $250k a year” or has an empty feed, but loads of replies to other accounts filled with profanity, that’s your cue to block and report. You want to curate your following, not flood it.
6. Never badmouth your company, colleague or boss
This is the Ockham's Razor of being a professional on Twitter. It doesn't matter if your profile is set to private and you're 100% sure that no one you work with follows your account. It's an unprofessional habit and reflects poorly on you—even if you feel like you're the one who has been wronged. Remember that whole "the internet is forever" thing? Your complaint about a coworker's lunch smells or your company's holiday party could come back to bite you in the future, whether you're looking for a new job or under review at your current workplace.
Looking for an outlet or tools to deal with a difficult work environment? Check out these blog posts on horrible bosses, performance reviews and having a graceful exit interview.
Considering how quickly information is shared online, we tend to react just as quickly. If you take anything away from this post, let it be taking just an extra beat to pause and think before letting those fast-typing thumbs get the better of you professionally.
Want to learn more about developing your social media presence? Read a blog post about curating your LinkedIn contacts.
Drexel University, Goodwin College of Professional Studies