Although many students in the design industry already understand that using Twitter can have multiple benefits to promoting yourself as a professional online, many are still not tapping into Twitter’s amazing potential. Not only is it a constant source of inspiration, it helps give a voice to your name and builds your reputation as a student.
Twitter is essentially a collection of “status updates” that can be read by anyone. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows you to connect with others easily – which presents a community willing to share information, exchange ideas and interact with others in real-time. Twitter is quickly becoming the standard of communication between designers and if you’re not utilizing it to your advantage, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to further your development.
When you’re just starting out, Twitter can seem a bit overwhelming. There’s some basic “lingo” you’re going to want to make yourself familiar with when interacting with others on Twitter:
@mentions - These are public messages that be directed at one or numerous individual’s at once.
Retweets (RT) - These are tweets that have been “shared.” Usually these are tweets that you feel would be beneficial to your followers. It’s always polite to give credit to whoever you got links from.
Hashtags (#) - Use the pound signs as a way to “tag” your tweets, much like you would label a blog post into a category. For example, try searching through the #webdesign hashtag on Twitter.
Lists - Lists are a great way to organize people you follow into categories for easy viewing of their tweets.
Direct Message (DM) - Direct messages are private messages. You can only a direct message to an account that follows you.
If you need a more detailed explanation of the technical basics of Twitter, I recommend the following resources:
Due to the popularity of Twitter, your profile is quickly becoming a gathering point for others to find out who you are, what you do and your personality type. Even just by skimming through your tweets, many people can get a good generalization of what you share, how it will benefit them and what kind of person you are. You’re going to want to make your profile fit nicely with the rest of the branding you have done on your portfolio and other areas on the web.
Fill out all areas of your profile - including your avatar. Default Twitter images are often associated with spam accounts (no one trusts an egg). How you fill out your profile is a large factor in how people will remember and recognize you online, so it’s a good idea to spend some quality time here.
Personal vs. Business Accounts
Personal Twitter Account
Pro’s: Other designers can see the real you. You can be as transparent as you want. This means that you are solely placing the spotlight on you and your work. If done properly, this can be an excellent way to get your name out there.
Con’s: Since your Twitter account is focused on you completely, your reputation is also on the line. Try to avoid tweeting statements that might offend or rustle others the wrong way – you won’t make any friends this way.
Business Twitter Account
Pro’s: Having a Twitter account under your business name makes you appear reputatable to potential clients or employers. It not only shows you take your professional work seriously, it proves you want to add credibility to your company name online.
Con’s: Many company Twitter profiles appear impersonal and give little insight into the person(s) behind the company name. This can be a turn-off for potential clients who may be interested in working with you, especially if your tweets appear to be automated.
It can be a tough task to introduce yourself to the world in a short 160 character bio. Be sure to include your “job description” – whether that be a student, web designer, front-end developer, blogger, etc. You’re going to want to use these keywords so you show up in Twitter’s search results when people are finding others who have the same interests.
Always include a link to your portfolio (if you have one). Including your location is also a must – many designers/agencies will strike up conversations simply because you may be located in the same area.
Having a custom background can come in handy for a couple reasons. First, it provides you with an area to provide additional contact/personal information that you couldn’t fit in your bio. Second, it provides an opportunity to express your creativity and carry over personal branding from your portfolio. You can utilize this space if you feel necessary, but it’s not something that requires urgent attention when just starting out.
Building Your Personal Brand
The way you use Twitter is totally up to you – if you use it the same way you would a blog, you’ll find that providing consistent and quality content doesn’t take much time. Leveraging the power of Twitter can help you build your personal brand, not only through the number of followers you acquire, but through the relationships and value you provide to others. Remember that “getting the most followers” shouldn’t be one of the goals you want to accomplish through Twitter. Instead, focus on building your personal brand.
The Benefits of Twitter
Some may view Twitter as a way to communicate with friends/family and hopelessly tweet at celebrities for a retweet, but deeper down, Twitter is a great place to market yourself as a designer, establish connections and further your career. There are different ways you can utilize Twitter as a student designer – it might be all of the following, or only some, but either way, it’s still effective:
- Build credibility and authority within the design industry through personal branding.
- Connect with other designers to establish relationships for possible future job/project opportunities.
- Develop a following that provides inspiration, help and advice (vice versa).
The Benefits of Twitter as a Student
The sooner you begin to figure out how Twitter works, the quicker you’ll realize that you have the potential to gain attention from a lot of people (these people may be employers and possible clients). This puts you in a position to take control of your presence online and use it to build a reputation within the industry and gain respect from clientele, even if you’re just a beginner.
- Have access to other designers that can provide feedback, help and advice whenever you need it.
- Add reliability to your name, even as a student.
- Introduce your work to other designers/clients who may be interested in hiring you. You’ll also gain more traffic to your portfolio as a result.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS – we will be going into more detail about how to use Twitter effectively as a web design student. Stay tuned!