I love twitter. I’m on it all the time.
So much that to be really productive I need to turn it off for a while and check back later. Funnily enough though I’m actually a late adopter of twitter. I’ve only been active for 1.5 years or so. Around about the same time I started at Tractor.
A few months in I begun to notice the benefits and I’m finally putting finger to keyboard to share my experiences.
Here are a few reasons why I use twitter, how it helps me become more knowledgeable of the [graphic design] industry, and some reasons why you probably should too.
1. Learn about industry relevant news and events
Following key brands and organisations on twitter gives you access to news about the industry. Quick, really quick. As someone who posts industry news, I know that if I have something to say that people want to hear that twitter will pick it up and run with it. If you hear about an exciting event or important news you can bet the people on twitter have known about it for a while.
2. Connect with industry organisations
Here is one of the most important parts of using twitter – to connect with the industry. The design industry was an early adopter of twitter and as the lines between graphic design, web design and digital design continue to gaussian blur (sorry), popularity is increasing.
In the world of design most companies are tech savvy and if they’re not – they are getting that way. By following active organisations you’ll hear about industry news faster, see when new articles are posted and hear about events quickly.
Lets use an example. @desktopmagazine today has over 9,000 followers. So they need to keep these followers interested, and keep feeding them useful bits of information that resinates with their audience. They do this by posting content that people want to read, tweeting links to events and other industry related news. Think of them as an example of an organisation who’s social media goals are to get the news to you first. They’re not always going to be first but chances are if it’s important news or a great local event, their twitter feed will cover it.
They are worth a follow.
Here’s a list of more Australian twitter accounts I follow that you should follow too.
Full disclaimer, I manage both the Tractor and the CreativeMornings/Sydney twitter accounts.
Follow these feeds and you’ll notice quality content being posted that’s pertinent to the industry. There are more out there but this should get you started.
3. Connecting with other professionals
Not every studio and designer is on twitter, but so many are. Most people that use twitter do it to connect with other likeminded people who have similar interests. Or as Seth Godin might say, people in their tribe. This is super useful because you don’t have to follow your friends like how facebook is set up. You follow people you’re interested in connecting with and no one else. I like to think of it as curating your own news.
If you’re just starting out you might want to start by following anyone you study or work with in the industry, if you’re close friends you can ask them to tweet to their followers that you just joined and suggest that they should follow you to. Other people are much more likely to follow you if:
a. they know you exist
b. are refered to follow you by someone they already follow.
Think of it as ‘word of mouth’ marketing for your online self. It also helps if you have a profile image (of your face, a description that is descriptive and a link if they want to find out more info about you).
This works both ways, you can click on your friends profiles and see who they are following. If they interest you, follow them but don’t go nuts. You don’t want to be following 100 people and only have a few followers. Why? Because this discourages other twitter followers to follow you back. It’s not that you’re not a nice person (you’re probably awesome) but there is no online evidence of that. You should try to have a good ratio of who you follow and who follows you.
Get involved in your industry!
I rarely design anymore. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just spend all my time on other projects and over time I’ve drifted away from firing up photoshop every morning to sketching out ideas and strategies, talking through problems and sending a bucketload of emails and EDM’s. If you’re a designer and if you have a half decent folio you should get onto twitter and share your work with people who care. You’ll find a benchmark incredibly useful by comparing your own range of work with others at a similar level.
By following some of the more active people who also happen to be good designers like @chris_j_doyle, @mrjamesnoble or @tbuesing over time you’ll be gaining insights into how their minds work, what websites they look at, and what design captures their attention.
In the past you’d need to be cleaning the bathrooms at an agency just to get close enough to eavesdrop on meetings and conversations and figure it all out. Now it’s all there at your fingertips. Well, some of it.
6. Online Presence
Here’s something I think more people should pay closer attention to, and not just people in the design industry. Your online presence is really very important if you want a career in any form of design, media, advertising, marketing and so on obviously and indefinitely.
It’s more important than ever to have a positive online presence because depending on your industry, there is a chance that your prospective employer will ‘google’ you.
not just as dirty as it sounds.
We need to assume that they will go through everything that comes up on that first page of google. This could make or break their impression of you. During this process employers are looking for reasons not to hire you. Don’t give them any.
This is where twitter comes in handy, it’s an easy way for people to scroll down your timeline and read your tweets. Getting a sense of what you’re into and who you are as a person. Helping them decide if you’ll fit in with their studio culture. If you’ve been discussing the finer points of typography with other designers on twitter you’re going to score some points. If they discover facebook images of you doing a beer bong you might not get a call back. There is a time and a place.
I guarantee that if you’re genuinely passionate about design, interacting with the design industry on twitter will help your career.
If you’d like, you can follow me too @flyntracy
By Flyn Tracy