Personal branding and social media seems to be all the rage in our self-indulgent, opinionated, fly-by-the-seat modern lives.

It’s the new self proclaimed SEO guru and just from my own experience searching LinkedIn, there’s been a 50% increase in users claiming social media as a skill over last year, on the business social site.

That’s just a microcosm of the wider world and doesn’t prove anything definitely, but it does give insight into how important Web 2.0 has become in the real world.

So how do you jump on the bandwagon, win friends, influence people and shape your social brand? Well, buckle up, here’s six simple ways you can do it on the micro blog site, Twitter:

  1. Post interesting content. It sounds simple, but a quick look at my own Twitter feed right now tells me a high school buddy is playing Portal 2 on his PS3, another one thinks peanut butter and chocolate is the ish, and that there is a god and he likes puppies. I’m sure God does. Then on the opposite side are the folks who never post anything that’s not about self-promotion and links to their own blog. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your site, but it’s also a quick way to loose followers. Readers want an incentive to follow you, so promo yourself, but unless you’re Ashton Kutcher, be sure to sprinkle in some “what I’m reading” social bookmarks from time to time that make me say “oh cool, glad I follow that guy.”
  2. Use the @ function to have a conversation. It’s web 2.0 dude, be social. Engage with your audience the same way you demand to engage with traditional media channels.
  3. Don’t overdue it. If you are averaging more than five tweets a day, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re list count is higher than your tweet count, you’re doing it wrong. If the last 15 tweets are all @ replies, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re entire feed is full of “free ipad’ and “low mortgage rates, wow” links, you’re doing it wrong. If you’ve ever used #winning, you’re doing it wrong.
  4. Use an analytic tools. Tools like can be used to monitor what your followers are interested in. When people are clicking on your links, which ones they like and where your links end up. Is everyone reading on Monday morning at 11 from Facebook? Did your link to news about Darfur spike traffic? Did you notice an uptick in re-tweets about your post on the local burger joint? They’re all clues into who your audience is and what they want from you.
  5. Hold a contest. There’s nothing we Americans like more than something shiny and new, so to really drive up followers, give something away to a random follower who re-tweets a given contest entry tweet. It’s the sneaky and quick way to go viral and pad those numbers.
  6. Be clever, or a d*ck. The BP oIl spill gave birth to @BPGlobalPR a fake PR account that played the nations biggest disaster for satire and charity and earned 42,000 followers in one week. Out of work comedy writer Justin Halpern created @shitmydadsays and landed a book deal and CBS TV Show by being clever. @MayorEmanuel became a sensation and allegory for American politics that left it’s creator Dan Sinker wondering what happened. And Team Coco received a huge jolt when Conan entered the Twitterspere to keep his, and his staff’s, creative juices flowing after NBC reneged on their deal. In each case it was the content of their tweets that kept followers coming back for more. I’m not encouraging anyone to go create a fake account and go nuts, but if you follow the models here, you can try to be interesting and clever in your own right.

Most of all though, the Internet is good at recognizing bullshiznit, so just be yourself and have fun. The cream will rise.

BONUS: Don’t forget to include your Twitter handle with your public profile.


@SDulai originally wrote this article for The Houston Press.