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Twitter is love.  Twitter is hate. It depends upon whom you ask.

Not surprisingly, Twitter continues to grow as new users, new features, and new investors discover its benefits.

As a Twitter user since 2009, I have had my share of rejoices, discoveries, frustrations, and learning experiences.

For now, the positives of using Twitter do out number the negatives of using Twitter for as I continue to use Twitter as a valuable personal learning network (PLN) and I continue to learn how to use it more strategically for personal branding. “There is a method to my Twitter madness.”

Since I also teach the marketing use of Twitter in numerous classes, presentations, and future workshops, I regularly try to wrap my brain around the logic of strategically using Twitter for personal branding and job search.

Twitter is Not Like Other Social Media.

Twitter does get its share of criticism, dropouts, and misunderstandings of use.

Common questions from Twitter newbies: “Do I use Twitter as I do Facebook?” “Do I use Twitter as I do text messaging?” “Do I use Twitter as I do blogging?”

My answers: no.

Err. I mean. It depends.

The upside of Twitter is that it can be used for many purposes and you can use Twitter in any way desired.

Nonetheless, if you want to use Twitter for personal branding and job search, then you have to approach its use as quite different from your personal and private use of other social media and smart phone apps.

Taking Control of Your Twitter Streams.

In my organizational and strategic use of Twitter, I think of Twitter as a number of content streams requiring management and control.

1. Home Stream.

This Home stream (or timeline) is where you go to jump into Twitter and find content of value for education, entertainment, and communication.

In your beginning use of Twitter you likely followed: (1) people you know (friends, family, coworkers, etc.), (2) those you want to learn from (writers/authors, magazines, news sources, etc.), (3) those you want for entertainment or hobbies (Dilbert comics, celebrities, etc.), (4) favorite product brands, companies, stores, and shopping websites, and (5) impulsive or random following of others that just looked interesting.

Soon this Home stream became muddied with all sorts of social flotsam and jetsam.  And, your negative thoughts began to surface:

“Hey, how did that spam get in here?”

“Oops, perhaps I should not have followed that guy always sharing his selfies and vacation pictures.”

“This gives me a headache.  I can’t possibly keep up with this mad rush of muddled content.”

With this Home stream, beginners quickly begin to either lose interest, feel the anxiety of not being able to keep up, or sense the fear of missing something.

There are two ways to manage this Home stream mess for personal branding and job search:

Option one: define your follow and follow back strategies.  There is nothing in your Home stream until you choose to follow or follow back.  Just focus on your purpose for using Twitter and follow and follow back only those that fit into that focus.  With personal branding, you should pick a career focus and amplify that in your Twitter profile, your own social shares, and in whom you follow and follow back.  Yes, it is that simple.  Just focus.

Advanced Twitter Tip: Conduct a career focus/interests “keyword” and #hashtag search on Twitter and with FollowerWonk.  Basically, you should look to follow and follow back those that use the same or similar keywords or hashtags in their Twitter Profile, tweets, and retweets.

Option two: follow and follow back anyone and everyone (except obvious spammers, tricksters, and the unusual suspects) and then ignore them in your Twitter Home stream. 

Yes, I said ignore your Twitter Home stream, excepting when you need some random inspiration (serendipity), tickles of humor, a standing-in-line-waiting time killer, or a I’d-rather-be-doing-something-else boredom breaker.

Of course, if you choose to ignore your Twitter Home stream then you should make a greater effort to develop, use, and manage your Twitter Lists streams (see number 4).

2. Tweets Stream.

Your Twitter Tweets stream (Me) is the most valuable piece of online real estate for those using Twitter for personal branding and job search.

This stream contains what you share and what others will see when they visit your Twitter profile and what others will see in their Home stream if they follow you.

Therefore, sharing your vacation pictures and clever one-off top-of-mind thoughts out loud on Twitter will not do much good for your personal brand in the eyes of potential followers or potential employers.

Control and management of your Tweets stream is critical and of great strategic importance because:

“You are what you tweet and retweet.”

So again, align your social shares with your personal brand identity or how you want others to see you.  The content you share on Twitter should unquestionably confirm this desired personal brand identity to others. 

No Facebook style personal observations on life and dinner. 

No text message style language of LOLs or BFFs.

No one-sided conversations, irrelevant fodder, or content that could muddy your Tweet stream or the Home stream of your followers.  

Stay on career focus and strategically tweet and retweet content that is current, useful, and informative or entertaining, but categorically of high quality and confirming your career focus.  This will attract like-minded followers and show potential employers your currency, career interests, and professional reading habits.

And, yes you should occasionally social share content that shows your hobbies, special interests, and personality. 

Advanced Twitter Tip: Sign-up for a Feedly account and as you find good people to follow on Twitter that are sharing content in you career focus, click through to their blog and subscribe to their RSS feeds.  Organize your Feedly using folders on the subtopics of your career focus.  Then you will always have good content to social share on Twitter.

3. Tweets & Replies Stream.

With a recent Twitter redesign, visitors to your Profile page are presented with a default Home stream and a second choice of Tweets & replies stream.

This second stream view basically adds all tweets that begin with an  @Name.

In case you missed this detail, whenever you begin a tweet with a @Name and no spaces or characters before it, this tweet does not go to all your followers (nor does it show in your default Tweet stream).  However, it does show in the Tweets and replies stream.

As a contrarian to popular influencer proclamations and ego proclivities, for the most part your replies to others should always begin with the @Name. This way your primary/default Tweets stream can remain pure, free of @reply debris, and show others of your quality career focus and related personality.

Then if someone truly wants to judge you on your engagement with others, all they have to do is click on the second Tweets and replies stream under your Profile.

To recap with an example, this tweet would show in the default Tweets stream and followers Home stream:  “Thank you @DennyMcCorkle for the retweet.”  And, this tweet would only show in the second Tweets and replies stream: “@DennyMcCorkle thanks for the retweet.”

Most replies should not be shared in your Tweets stream so as to not to muddy this important personal branding stream and discourage potential followers or employers that are trying to determine your worth.  Though, mileage does vary and exceptions do apply.

4. Twitter Lists Streams.

Last and definitely not the least important of the Twitter streams needing a plan of action, are the Lists streams.  Yes, plural.  You should have numerous carefully planned, organized, and personal branded Twitter lists.


Personal Brand Identity Confirmation. It confirms to potential followers and employers the depth, seriousness, and quality of your career focus.  While I am a professor of marketing, my Twitter profile and Twitter lists more specifically detail my specific career focus/interests in: social media marketing, personal branding, job search, and creativity/creative thinking.

Personal Learning Network (PLN).  Just as you may use a RSS feed reader such as Feedly to manage your blog PLN, Twitter Lists can be used to manage your Twitter PLN.  Just organize your lists into subtopics relevant to your career focus so you can choose, learn, and share in a more balanced way.  For example, for social media marketing I have separate lists for professors, book authors, inbound marketing, digital marketing, and content marketing.  My top ten or so favorites or influencers make up my Social Media Marketing Top List.  I also have subtopics for my Lists for personal branding.

Internal Personal SEO.  When a potential employer or follower reviews your personal brand on Twitter, they are likely to begin with your profile, then on to your social shares or Tweets, and some may visit your Lists.  If the keywords used here are repeated, then your personal brand identity is more adequately confirmed.  So, be sure to segment or subtopic your lists and name the lists using the most important career relevant keywords.

@Mentions. Twitter Lists are also a great way to get others to notice you and your personal brand and show them that you value their Twitter activity.  Whenever you add someone to a List, they receive a Notifications>Mentions, as they do when you follow, retweet, or favorite.  This @Mention may trigger a review of your profile and tweets and could result in a follow, follow back, or jumpstart a conversation or engagement. 

Advanced Twitter Tip: When you find an influencer in your Home stream, then visit their profile, find their Twitter Lists (More>Lists), and find new people to follow and add to your Lists.  You should also consider subscribing to one or more of their lists.  These list subscriptions will also show in your Lists stream, so be career focused and professionally selective.

The Take-Away.

Twitter holds tremendous value for personal branding, job search, and career.

At the minimum, Twitter provides an amazing personal learning network for developing and advancing careers.

At the maximum, Twitter can confirm your personal brand identity to potential followers and employers.

The best results depend upon how you manage, develop, and organize your Twitter streams.

What are your tips for managing your Twitter streams: Home, Tweets, Tweets and replies, or Lists?

Image credit: by Denny McCorkle

This article originally appeared on Digital Self Marketing Advantage and has been republished with permission.