If you haven’t read the first part of this series, check out: A Basic Introduction to Twitter for Design Students.
Every social media strategy requires a sensible plan with goals and objectives. As web designers, our online presence can provide remarkable opportunities. If you’re just becoming familiar with the design community, remember that it takes time to develop meaningful relationships and to start seeing tangible results. In this article, we will go through how to set goals with social media and expand your network beyond friends, family and co-workers.
If you want to be successful with social media, you’re going to have to do your homework. Many students are overly eager to get started in the whirlwind of opportunity in social media, but rarely do they start the conversation about why they are using it in the first place. There are many different ways you can fit into the design community, so discovering the best way to potentially participate will help you determine what may or may not be in your strategy. Defining purpose in your social media adventure will help you solidify motivation to move forward and grow.
How Do You Define Success?
You should start with the most basic question: what do you want to accomplish from Twitter? Think about it – simply gaining followers should not be your first priority. Whether you want to get a job, or just connect with other designers in your area, there are many ways you can define how you use Twitter. Here are some examples:
- Increase visits to your portfolio, resulting in more freelance requests
- Connect with other designers to increase your network
- Seek full-time employment
- Start becoming more involved in the online community
Personal contacts is the only thing that matters in getting a job – Karen McGrane
Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to request to “friend” someone on Twitter, meaning that relationships are more easily established. Twitter allows you to find people with similar interests that share meaningful information and links that will directly benefit you in achieving your goals with social media. Following these types of people will also help you stay up-to-date with the latest technologies in web design (which would be in your best interest career-wise).
To start, add friends or family. Then, begin to follow well-established designers (see below). As you begin to phase through this, you’ll notice that your feed will become very busy and difficult to keep track of. Be attentive to the type of people you follow – you want to have a good mix of individuals you look up to and can seek guidance from and others that might turn to you for help. You’ll most likely have followers with a mix of ages and skill ranges – this is a good thing.
Some of my favourite designers and individuals that I highly recommend to follow at the moment are:
- Mark Boulton - A wonderful designer who started the Five Simple Steps Books (also recommended reading)
- David Airey - More of a graphic designer, but still tweets some extremely useful information for design students
- Sarah Parmenter - Web designer and iOS interface designer with some insightful talks on designing for the iPhone
- Sacha Greif - One of my favourite designers – he also wrote a book on UI design
Use Twitter Organically
I’m sure you’ve all seen those Twitter users that jump on the “follow back” bandwagon. I’d highly recommend staying clear of this route – it won’t help you gain an organic and responsive following. You want to add prospects to your network that will interact with you, support you and follow you because they are interested in what you are doing, not just because you want your follower count to be high.
Finding the Right Conversations
The designers you followed in the previous step have been added to your network and will provide you with a continuous, live news feed. Sometimes, it can become overwhelming, but if you focus on the right conversations, you can usually find a niche (programmers, designers, marketers, content specialists, etc) that will share links with you and keep you updated on the latest technologies and news. Try searching for specific words on the Twitter search tool such as #webdesign:
Expanding Your Network
Much like in the real world, developing and fostering relationships takes a combination of time and effort. Many designers will be receptive to newcomers looking for guidance and help if you exemplify a sense of genuine friendliness and respect. Leveraging your network to your advantage will prove to have many benefits later on in your career – this includes expanding your network beyond co-workers, friends and “web celebs” you admire.
A good way to expand your network is to see who other designers are following. Exploring these conversations will help you determine which ones you want to become a part of. Even simply mentioning a designer who’s work you really enjoyed is a good way to kickstart a conversation.