Use Twitter lists to build your personal news brand

November 16th, 2009

NOTE: I originally posted a version of this on the Personal Branding Blog.

For reporters on the social web, the strength of their personal brand can gain them readers or, more importantly, sources. Twitter lists are just one way you can introduce people to your work and get that one source you need to follow you on Twitter. (Of course, you can always pick up the phone and call them, but that’s besides the point.)

Here are some easy things you can do to brand yourself through your Twitter lists:

  • Thank every person who lists you. While it may take only a second to add someone to a Twitter list, it also takes a second to notice that you’re on someone else’s list. If someone thinks you — and your content — add enough value to warrant addition to their contacts, thank the person who adds you. If you’re not following the person who added you, give them a follow and then, once they follow you back, DM them a quick thank-you note. That note will get you noticed, and it’s yet another opportunity to talk to people in your network, as well as a new reader and a potential source.
  • Follow lists compiled by people you’re looking to interview. One way you can get noticed is by following someone else’s list. Many lists have no followers, and if you can distinguish yourself by being the first follower of someone else’s list, not only does it distinguish you, but it gives you and that person something to talk about.In addition, if you follow someone else’s list, it gives you a frame of reference in which you can formulate questions that will garner better responses.
  • Create lists of people you meet offline. Some folks have thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers, most of whom they’ve never met before. As you meet people at conferences, events and talk to sources, you may want to add them to a list devoted to people you’ve met.  An easier way to do this could be to create a new list for each conference and event you attend. This way, your Twitter contacts will be organized for quick recall. (Don’t forget that you can always add people to multiple lists!)
  • Create lists to show how well-rounded you are. Some folks live, breathe and evangelize social media all day, every day, and quite often, their Twitter streams are filled with all sorts of social media-related blog posts, re-tweets and general observations.While this is great, it will cause their stream to be one-dimensional and, therefore, useless to most people who actually use Twitter. For metro reporters, create list of useful people to follow in your city or town. If you’re a business reporter, create a list of local businesses on Twitter. If you’re a sports reporter, find the local athletes in your town on Twitter, and add them. For restaurant reporters, create a list of local chefs and restaurateurs on Twitter.If you’re looking to connect with your audience on a more personal level, create a separate list about your interests. Create lists around your musical and/or artistic tastes. Show your readers that you’re a well-rounded person, and they’ll be more likely to follow you on Twitter.
  • Showcase your sources. When a story gets published, create a Twitter list of the sources you used, so that the story does not just end there. Link to the list after the story on the article web page. If you can, print the URL for the Twitter list in the paper. Enable your readers to follow the story after it’s completed.
  • Showcase your happy clients. For successful freelancers, whether their business grows depends in part on positive word of mouth. If you connect potential leads with your happy customers, you’ll find that there’s a good chance your business will grow.At the end of your projects, don’t just ask for a LinkedIn recommendation. If you do consistent, good work for a local newspaper, add your supervising editor to a Twitter list devoted to your references. Twitter is just another channel through which you can connect your clients with potential customers.

These are just some ways to grow your personal news brand through your Twitter lists. If I left anything out, please feel free to leave your suggestions as comments after this post!

- Daniel B. Honigman

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Entry Filed under: Twitter

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