Using Twitter is a great way to enhance your personal brand as well as your firm brand. It can be hard to find time to write long-form, but tweets are short and you have control over them yourself, making it easy to create and share content on the platform. Importantly, it is also easy to engage with leaders in your practice area or industry, to raise your profile.

Getting Started With Twitter

Here are must-knows to help you start on the right foot.

  • Use your actual name as your Twitter handle or username rather than come up with something “cute.” It’s better to be simple and professional here for branding purposes and, well, because you are a professional. Also, use your logo as your profile photo for your company Twitter account and use a professional headshot for your profile page.
  • Always add value. Remember, this is about building your brand. Every post you create should add value. Your tweets and retweets should be helpful and interesting to your specific audience.
  • Get to the point. One benefit of the limited number of characters allowed in a post (280 characters to be exact) is that you learn to write succinctly and to get to the point quickly.
  • Take the time to develop a content strategy. You’ll want to develop a plan for a steady stream of quick, timely and evergreen content ideas throughout the year so that you can attract and build followers and then stay top of mind with them.
  • Use an editorial calendar. This will help you track your posts and, of course, reuse and repurpose your content throughout the year.
  • Build your followers. Identify influencers and engage with them (see below) — you will gain more followers if you effectively engage with your audience.

Things to Do Once You’re Up and Running

Now that you have the foundation for your Twitter strategy (followers and content), the next step is to become more active on the platform and achieve your goal — whether enhancing your brand or bringing in new clients. Here are some ideas on how to do both.

  • Become part of conference conversations. Tweet before, during and after important industry conferences using the official conference hashtags. (You can easily find them in conference materials and online.) Use the tweets to inspire your future content ideas (sort by the hashtag for inspiration) and retweet content from key influencers to build relationships.
  • Become a content aggregator, but be careful. A word to the wise: Always click on all articles and read them before retweeting and sharing in case the author’s viewpoints don’t completely align with yours. Set up Google alerts as well, and follow news sources so you have a steady stream of content to share.
  • Do more than share article and alert headlines. When you post links to an article or other content, offer an insight or two by retweeting with a comment on why the article is important. This way your followers will come to rely on you as their own personal industry news aggregator.
  • Incorporate hashtags directly in tweet copy instead of adding them to the end, if possible. This creates a cleaner look and ensures the hashtags are visible.
  • Share white papers and studies from organizations and companies you admire for thought leadership. I often look to the Big Four accounting firms and other financial services companies for inspiration. In addition, industry reports are great content and are often released by PR firms and other consulting firms within the legal industry. Spend time identifying the key players in your practice niche or industry and follow them on social media so that you have a steady stream of content possibilities to share.

Pro Twitter Tips

  • Use Twitter lists. Use tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to manage your followers and contacts and to easily follow their tweets. In addition to monitoring Twitter feeds, these tools are helpful for scheduling your posts and you can use them to your advantage for efficiency.
  • Tweet often — at least once or twice per day. As long as you have something of value to say, don’t worry about oversaturation. People are busy; they aren’t constantly following your feed. Consistency is the key to success when building your brand on Twitter.
  • When used correctly, hashtags can be an effective way to grow your reach, promote engagement and get discovered on Twitter. Always use hashtags, but only use two per post. Tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those with three or more.
  • Maximize hashtag marketing with tools such as Hashtagify or RiteTag. These tools help you identify the most relevant hashtags so that your content is more visible and more easily found based on real-time hashtag engagement.
  • Research what your competitors are doing, and do it better. This is one of my favorite tips for pretty much any area of marketing — because there’s nothing that invigorates lawyers as much as showing them what their peers are up to. Follow the Twitter accounts of your top 10 competitors and take screenshots of their best and worst tweets, along with any visuals. Keep a running file and use these posts as inspiration to push your own creativity.

This article originally appeared in Attorney at Work.