Personal Branding: How and Why I Use Twitter

October 6, 2009

I love Twitter.  Next to my blog, it is by far the most important social media site I participate in.  In the few short months I’ve been on Twitter I have met and connected with some incredible people that have helped me improve the value of what I do.

When you establish your Twitter presence, please be yourself, not your business.  Use your real name or a version of it, use the same recent and professional picture of yourself that you use in Linkedin and Facebook, and use a similar statement of purpose that you use in those accounts.  Include the link to your blog or business site.  My twitter account is

I have Twitter set up to automatically post to my Facebook account.  I do this for several reasons.  The most important is I spend 95% of my time with my blog and Twitter because those are the active sites where the big payoff is.  I don’t have time to operate separately in Facebook and frankly it’s not worth the time.  Knowing that my Twitter automatically feeds to Facebook, I put myself on a budget in Twitter.  Every morning I tweet my own blog and then ONLY 2-3 of the best blog posts I find that morning.

I check back in Twitter in about an hour because if someone has re-tweeted one of my posts I want to thank them for doing so.  I think that is very important.  It is also important to know that when you “reply” to someone in Twitter that does NOT auto post to Facebook, so there is no budget to how many people I can thank.

Before I ever log on to Twitter in the morning, I spend time trying to learn something new.  My job on Twitter is to find the BEST posts on leadership and management I can find that day that and share them with my friends on Twitter.  I know they are doing the same.  That means only the best of the best ends up on Twitter.  When you build a community of people all interested in the same thing, everyone only has to do a small part daily.  I can learn something new every day on Twitter because I am connected to good people that share the load of bringing daily value to our forum.  It’s amazing.

Please ignore that box at the top that says “what are you doing?”  No one cares and that is NOT what Twitter is about. Twitter is about valuable content and valuable connections.  By connections I don’t mean number of followers – it really does not matter how many people follow you.  What matters is how many of those folks you exchange private e-mails or phone calls with, and how many you meet in person.  I’ve made some extremely valuable contacts where I live that I never would have met if I had not been on Twitter.  And I’ve met some incredible people all over the country that I have communicated with outside of Twitter.

You can’t learn Twitter by standing on the shore and observing.  You have to jump in and start swimming – daily.  Be patient; you won’t get Twitter overnight.  Connect to good people and watch what they do and how they do it.  It takes a while, but once you see what is really happening in Twitter you will see it is one of the most valuable social networks for your personal brand.

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Personal Branding: The Power and Peril of Being Personal in Facebook

Personal Branding: Some Simple First Steps

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Comments (17)

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  1. Joseph Logan says:

    Well put. As I have mentioned before, I think it is admirable and effective that you thank people on FB and Twitter–makes your message “sticky”.

    I also use to automatically send new blog posts to Twitter (which automatically updates to FB). I’ve also noticed a hierarchy among the three–I post longish thoughts to the blog, brief observations to Twitter, and reposts of others to FB. Though automated from blog to Twitter to FB, I can drop in at any point in the flow with whatever message I’m trying to communicate.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanking people is SO EASY, yet so powerful. And it is genuine – I really do appreciate people taking the time to stop by, read, and comment, and I want to make sure they know it. Thanks!! Bret

  2. Joseph Logan says:

    Posted this before I saw your other post cautioning against the auto-feed from blog to Twitter. Still works for me, but I understand your logic.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Joseph, I did not mean it as a caution, only a piece of advice. For example, sometimes I post a blog at 10 pm my time because my wordpress dates it the next day at 10 pm. but I don’t want to post to Twitter that late – everyone I want to see it is in bed! So I save the Tweet until the next morning. Thanks! Bret

  3. Tom Glover says:


    This was good stuff and timely for me. I’ve been tweeting my posts since I started my blog last week but hadn’t thought about the Facebook connection. Actually, I had done a 2 week FB experiment last winter seeing if and how I would actually use it. It really didn’t do anything for me at the time, but with your thoughts I may revisit the idea given the new blog.

    BTW, I found a recent Dilbert strip related to leaders using Twitter and posted it on my blog here:

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Tom, the Dilbert is very funny – thanks for sharing. I know a lot of social media experts really hype facebook, but that’s not where the action is. The BIG payoff for the personal brand is the blog, and the best way to promote the blog is in Twitter. Thanks! Bret

  4. Karen Rosenzweig says:

    Fantastic post – couldn’t agree more! I’m working with Seattle restaurants to “get” Twitter and your words are gold! thx

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Karen. Twitter takes a lot of getting used to, but it is powerful. Thanks! Bret

  5. Roberta Hill says:

    Nice post Bret. I use Twitter and Facebook for two different reasons. (See my landing page.) I also follow some of the same people on FA as Twitter. So personally, I don’t like to see the same million of tweets on FB. Now I understand that you don’t Tweet indiscriminately so that’s OK. Some of my FB friends are a little to much into marketing so I have “turned” them off while remaining friends.

    I use TweetDeck and track both together and I prefer to select just some of my tweets to cross post where I think it makes sense to my FB friends. Oh and sometimes – when it fits, I do care what others are doing. Helps me “get to know them” on a more personal level. However, in principle I agree.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Roberta, I appreciate your thoughts. Can you tell me more about the different reasons you use FB and Twitter? I used both for branding so I try to be consistent in how I present myself. I’m glad you picked up my point about being conservative in how I tweet. Frankly I think some people do it way too much. Knowing my FB friends will see my tweets gives forces me to discipline my activity and also helps me budget my time. And I DO care about the people I meet on Twitter, but honestly I am not really interested in what they are doing at any particular moment – but that’s just me! Thank you so much!! Bret

    Roberta Hill Reply:

    This time I linked to my Landing Page. So I will “quote my policy” on my approach to some of the Social Networks.

    Twitter – The Cocktail Party (Maybe Speed Dating you’ll see why later)
    Facebook – The Family Picnic
    LinkedIn – The Business Meeting

    If I don’t know you personally or through a longstanding on-going online connection, I will not add you as a friend in Facebook. If you don’t have my phone number there is a good chance I won’t “friend” you. Sometimes, even if I do know you, I will not connect.
    I use Facebook to maintain connections with people that I have met and liked and might otherwise loose contact.

    First, Twitter is a learning vehicle for me and an opportunity to share resources that I have found. (And using my own FriendFeed it is a great way to have my own history of what interested me at a point in time.) Second, over time, it is a way for me to develop deeper relationships with individuals who share my personal pursuits or professional interests. I may make a personal comment (1 for every 5 real tweets) so that those who follow me know that I am a real person with a real life. But I am not that personal and if I begin a short conversation I will move it to DM.

    You can read tons more on my policy at:

    Thanks for asking this and asking to friend – we will have to go out on a date just one or two more times. But I am feeling positive about it – primarily because MJ is a good friend of mine. 🙂

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks for taking the time to share your policy, Roberta. I like your approach to Twitter. I must respectfully say in my opinion your Facebook policy might have unintended results. You just offended me with it, which I can’t figure out why you would ever want to do that. I operate a public website and have a record of operation that is transparent and open for anyone to examine. What are you afraid I might do when I get behind that virtual wall of Facebook? It is an irrational concern. Again, I strongly believe Facebook has framed the issue wrong. We can reframe how we think about these tools and use them for greater professional leverage. Thanks! Bret

    Roberta Hill Reply:

    Wow. I am sorry that you are offended by my policy. Would it be better if I just was private and ignored you? How is that transparent? I can honestly say that I know every one of the people I connect with on Facebook and how we met. I don’t know you – not on a personal level which is how I choose to use FB. If I have the opportunity to get to know you, which I hope, I will probably change my mind.

    I have my policy posted but I most certainly do not “write” back to all the people who ask to friend me and tell them why I won’t connect. I feel that is their responsibility. You asked specifically – and so I commented and thought I had made light of it. And, yes, two people who I do know and think that they are “crazies” have asked to friend me. I choose to ignore their requests and fortunately, they have not asked me why. I have also been harassed on Twitter.

    I share personal things on Facebook about myself and my family. Truth – I am not afraid, it is none of these people’s business. I am more vulnerable and open about things. Some is just private stuff. For that reason, some of my Picture Albums are available to certain people. I use FB albums for my real family who are not on FB but thousands of miles away and I can send them a link. Sure I could use Flickr but that is one more thing to deal with.

    May I ask how this policy is really that different from Tweeter – where people are much more indiscriminate? I can’t say Facebook has or has not framed it poorly. I do think that their privacy rules are terrible. As I say on my landing page, while I am not fan of Fan Pages I do think they serve a purpose – especially for branding.

    I do agree about using these tools for greater professional leverage. However, there is only so much time we can commit. While I belong to many networks, I am active on only a few. I consider LinkedIn an important professional tool and see that you use this as well but not the Discussion Groups.

    Explain to me please why you would feel offended by this policy? And to be honest, I am not sure what unintended results other than irritation there would be. Perhaps I am naive. Others care to wade in?

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Roberta, welcome back! I do very much appreciate the time and effort you took to clarify your thoughts.

    Twitter is an open architecture. Anyone that locks their tweets on Twitter just does not get it. Twitter is about sharing your value with anyone that is interested and focusing your attention on finding those with whom your value resonates.

    It is important to keep in mind that my post is about personal branding. In my professional opinion, anyone that is seriously interested in personal branding will treat Facebook as an open architecture also. I know they frame the issue differently, but I encourage people to not let Facebook tie their hands and set themselves up for situations where they might send the wrong message about themselves. Why would I ever want to even risk the possibility of offending someone by operating in Facebook as if what I am doing in there was only for those that pass my test, whatever that is? For personal branding, I’m sorry but it is just silly.

    Treat Facebook and every other social networking site as a local chamber of commerce meeting. You don’t know everyone in the room, and there is no reason you would not want to extend your hand to anyone in the room. If someone extends a hand to you and you turn your back, they are not going to respond well and your behavior, not theirs, is responsible. It was NOT a random thing that brought us all to this chamber meeting. There is some shared interest there and the fact that you showed up gives others the valid assumption that it is legitimate for them to approach you and extend their hand.

    If my knock on your Facebook door had been totally random, then I think your policy has merit. But there was nothing random about it. You operate on Twitter to promote your professional brand. That sends the signal to others that you understand social media and are using it to brand yourself and are interested in connecting with other professionals that do the same. It is a mixed message to say I operate one way here and you can talk to me but I operate another way over here and you can’t talk to me there. Its a mixed message and not good for a personal brand.

    Again, for the purposes of personal branding, I think we have to carefully examine all our assumptions about what we are doing online, where we are doing it, how we are doing it, and how others are doing the same.



    Roberta Hill Reply:

    My My! People use tools differently. You write: “Anyone that locks their tweets on Twitter just does not get it. ” Oh I do get it and there are at times very legitimate reasons to be private. Two of the people that I have the most respect for and who I have learned the most are both on private. I recommend you read @melaniemcbride —

    Facebook – random. With FriendFeed, email searches, friends of, . . how random is it really. Yes, you sought me out but you had to also “look me up”. I do not publicly list my FB account. It is not in my signature. I do not promote it. It is true, I do use the same photo rather than an avatar. I have a poken for example ( has hot links to my social networks. On my professional side – it is not mentioned. On my personal profile with my home address info, it is. I don’t own the vanity FB url.

    I agree that we need to examine our assumptions and while I may be wrong, I have actually spent a lot of time doing just that. I even create a policy based on that analysis. This took a great deal of time. If you knew me better, you would know I do not give a mix message on my personal brand. So much so that I am quick to “jump in” when I discover that “my name” is used as a pen name by someone else. I know exactly how many other Roberta Hill’s with an online presence exist. I have considered (as you do) using my middle initial. I used it in my early career days but gave it up when I obtained my own URL.

    And finally the Chamber Meeting. I would always be polite and you might get my business card with a smile that we must follow-up. But if there is no connection – amazing how it never happens. And in all my dealings with Twitter, you are the first to look at FB immediately. Assumptions perhaps? Usually it is LinkedIn where I connect next. Most of my FB and Twitter overlaps go from FB to Twitter not much the other way.

    By the way, enjoying this discussion. Thanks. Roberta

  6. Meqa Smith says:

    Great post. Your website is so professional and user friendly, content is useful, practical and original. I particularly like your focus on thanking people. I share your belief that it is individuals and the quality of our relationships with one another that shape our lives.

    Each interaction, whether personal or professional influences us either positively or negatively; “Thank You” is such an easy way to make someone’s day and at the same time have your blog or business remembered because hardly anyone does it these days.

    “We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace.” Peggy Tabor Millin

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Meqa, I appreciate you taking the time to leave your thoughts. I like visiting blogs where people talk back to me. My favorite bloggers – Wally Bock, Mary Jo Asmus, Art Petty – all practice this principle well. I hope you will come back and feel free to share again in the future. Thanks! Bret