Promoting Yourself on Social Media
Many people who are aspiring to become a public speaker ask me how to conduct themselves on social media or promote a talk once they have been accepted to speak somewhere. Having been a professional musician for a long time before I worked in InfoSec, I am used to trying to promote my events and set myself and my art apart from others. With this in mind, I humbly offer the following suggestions to help you gain social media followers or attract people to your events or work.
- Tweet about your events and your work! Share on LinkedIn! Talk about what you are doing and what you want to bring attention to. Send a tweet to your followers to tell them what’s new in your work, research you’ve released, or an article you have written. If you are doing things you are proud of in your professional life, you should tell people about them.
- Send a tweet to other speakers at the same conference that you are speaking at, congratulating them or telling them you are looking forward to their talk (note, only do this if it’s true). I know I love it when people congratulate me, so why not do that for others?
- General rule: never tweet or say or act in a way that is not genuine to who you really are. Don’t fake it; people can tell, and it’s a huge turn off. I know that I’m a giant nerd who is overly enthusiastic, obsessed with security and sometimes awkward. I own who I am, and people tend to think it’s adorable. If they don’t like it, they were never going to like me anyway; those aren’t the followers/connections/friends that I’m looking for. If you make your personal brand the real you, it’s much easier to ensure that you never step out from your brand and alienate the people who follow you.
- Always do major announcements (conference appearance, project release, etc.) on ALL of your social media. Don’t just announce it on one platform, use at least two. Do it on ALL social media that you have available to you. (PS you should use at least two forms of social media.)
- Don’t be as chatty on LinkedIn as on Twitter, it’s not the platform for that. :)
- Don’t use Twitter and LinkedIn the same way you use Facebook. Facebook is for personal connections, and some professional things. LinkedIn is professional only. Twitter can be a mix. Don’t post 100 photos per day of your family, your lunch or your dog on your Twitter or LinkedIn account and then wonder why you have no professional followers. If you work in InfoSec, and you are trying to get people interested in the research or other work that you are doing, why are you tweeting photos of your French fries that you just ordered? Rare personal tweets are okay, but you have to remember that’s not what people are following you for….
- Don’t comment on women’s appearance, attractiveness or bodies in a professional setting or social media. If I post a photo of myself giving a talk and someone comments how attractive I am it embarrasses me and makes me uncomfortable. It makes me wonder if how I look is more important than my research to some people, and I know many other women feel this way as well. If you want to compliment a woman, I highly suggest you compliment her on her work, achievements or something else professional. “Great talk!”, “Awesome article”, “You were so powerful on stage!”, “Highly informative”, “Great ideas!” etc. are all something anyone would be happy to see as a comment online.
- If possible, involve other people in your events. For instance, do a workshop with a friend, or write an article with someone who works in the same field as you. Organize a meetup with multiple speakers. It will bring more attention to the whole thing. It’s also usually more fun, and if there are technical issues you have backup. Plus, you have someone else to help you create the content or run the event, it’s win-win. It is also a good way to give a platform to someone else who has less followers, but who you want to see succeed.
- Ask to be on podcasts that relate to your area of interest. Tell them the topic that you want to talk about, make it easy for them by having a story ready. Announce it on social media. Always announce everything on social media.
- Reach out to the newspapers or blogs and see if they want to write an article about you/the conference. Try to have a story or interesting angle ready for them, so that the story writes itself. They are more likely to say yes if you have a good idea for a story.
- Plan other local events in conjunction with a large event (such as speaking at a conference) and give a different talk than the one you are doing at the conference (never do the same talk, in the same city, the same week). If you are doing a DevOps related talk, there’s almost always a DevOps meetup, same for OWASP (appSec), .Net users’ group, Cloud and so on. The bigger the city, the more options you will have. If you can get two different groups to co-host it (for instance the DevOps and OWASP meetups hosting a DevSecOps talk) that’s even better. Don’t forget to announce it on social media.
- Add something personal to your talk, if you feel comfortable. “War stories” are always well received. For instance, if you are giving advice that people should always encrypt their hard drives, share a story about when an unencrypted hard drive was stolen that illustrates the reason why you are offering this advice. People like knowing the secrets of what goes on behind the scenes, and that you are a real person. But don’t get too personal though, no over-sharing, that can have the opposite effect.
- When at an event where you are presenting, ask someone to take photos of you. Share one of the images online after and thank the conference for having you. Saying thank you is never a bad thing. Save good photos to help promote future events.
- Live tweet other people’s talks (again, only if you actually like it). Give compliments (publicly and/or privately) when people deserve them. If a talk looks cool, comment that the talk looks cool. If you feel someone’s project or research is impressive, tweet at them to tell them that it’s impressive. It’s not only a nice thing to do, it adds visibility to what you do and boosts your image of being positive and nice to work with. Again, win-win!
- Never tweet/share on social bad things about other professionals in your field. Talk to them directly if you have a problem. I try to treat others how I would want to be treated, and I would much rather handle things like that privately.
- Don’t respond to trolls unless you have something incredibly good ready and you have thought about what the response will be. Always proceed with caution with interacting with someone who’s willing to act like that online. Staying away is usually best.
- People love images, post related images if possible, with the conference/event/project/article/video tagged. Always tag the thing you are trying to promote. Feel free to tag people who will be involved as well.
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- If you see a news article that relates to your talk share it, with comments that you will cover this topic in more depth at your talk/presentation.
- If people tweet at you or reach out to you on social media, unless it’s negative, “like” their comment and respond positively whenever you have time. People like to be acknowledged, I know I do.
- Whenever possible, show kindness, patience and respect to others, both publicly and privately. This is a general tip, but it really makes life much better no matter what you do or who you are. :)
I hope this helps! Please reach out with questions or any suggestions of your own. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Other relevant articles & videos by yours truly!
- More Tips for Social Media and Presenting
- Presentation Tips for Technical Talks
- Practice Makes Perfect: Comments on Public Speaking
- Presentation and Social Media tips with SheHacksPurple