By Adam Karwoski, Founder of Social Brand U
Two years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I was on Facebook. I replied in a somewhat haughty tone, “No, I’m not 16.” Today? I tweet! I’ve not only embraced social media but evangelize to others about it. I have a brand.
Shortly after I was laid off last summer, my mother, of all people, told me she saw a CNBC segment about how companies use Twitter to find talent, find customers, and build loyalty. I had to laugh. My mom is 74 years old and not exactly on the information superhighway. She does, however, surprise me from time to time with knowledge of topics of the day. The second thing I did was laugh again, because my impression of Twitter was that it was designed for Taylor Swift or Chad “Ocho Cinco” to communicate with their “fans.” Twitter, it seems, is the most misunderstood social medium out there.
I did a little research and found out she was right. The enterprise presence on Twitter was amazing. So I created an account and learned how to use it. My intent was to find out which companies on my “target list” had a presence on Twitter and how I could leverage that presence to get in front of the right people. What I discovered was a community of recruiters, career coaches, resume experts, industry leaders, job boards, and subject matter experts of all kinds expressing compelling information that was not only relevant, but extremely insightful, timely, and practical.
My interest skyrocketed, and as I added followers, I began to understand that Twitter is really about a conversation with a community of like minds. There were individuals willing to help, share, learn, advise, teach, inform, and ultimately, build relationships. I’ve spent my adult life in the wireless technology business and have a passion for communication. How did I not see this one?
I started to share with others in my circle of influence what I was learning about Twitter, and it was met with the same amazement and intrigue that I had experienced. I’m not sure if I’m more surprised by the number of people and companies using Twitter or the number who don’t. In addition, I never suspected that Twitter could be such an effective tool for branding either one. Zappos.com’s CEO is a great example of how effective it can be.
I spoke to some college students recently who I thought would be heavy users of Twitter, but I was wrong. They had the same misconceptions about Twitter that I did and had almost the exact same comment: “I just don’t get Twitter.” In today’s employment market, with so many experienced professionals needing jobs, college grads need any advantage they can get. Someone should be teaching these Generation Yers how to: 1) identify opportunities with the companies and industries represented on Twitter, and more importantly, 2) how to use social media, including Twitter, to brand themselves in the marketplace.
Those of us who are forty something can be using it, too. Once we get beyond the notion that Twitter can be used for something more than letting friends know where happy hour is going to be, watch out! Imagine the advantage we can have knowing how to use social media to communicate with peers, customers, and employers around the globe, in real time, accessing a wealth of education and experience from the tips of our fingers on any wireless device in the world. Our microblogging activities (i.e., tweets) actually help build our brand at the same time.
So I have one question for you. What’s your brand? The answer: whatever you want it to be. There are many ways to brand YOU. Twitter is unique because it requires you to be concise, compelling, and relevant. You speak to the topics you’re passionate about, and in turn, build relationships with others around the world or around the block. One tip: have the courage to be you.
What’s my advice? Think about what your brand will be three months or three years from now and start branding “You, Inc.” today. Oh, and always listen to your mother.