Finding your voice on Twitter

On April 4, 2013 Roger Ebert died after a long battle with cancer.  In addition to being one of the most influential film critics and journalists of our time, he was significant in another way: he was an early adopter of Twitter.  Roger Ebert's Twitter Feed

After losing his ability to speak due to the cancer, this Pulitzer Prize-winning author needed a way to connect to his readers. Although he continued to write books and blogs, he embraced Twitter. This page, created in October of 2009, would more or less replace his lively television appearances and weekly “At the Movies” programs. On this page he could easily share links and musings, in short 140 character bursts.

Ebert’s feed was an example of how to create (and maintain) a brand for yourself.  Ebert already had a brand when he joined Twitter.  He was well-known for his honest film reviews and witty banter. But this twitter feed brought him to the next level. He was able to interact with his fans and friends. He could share news about himself.  He could share interesting links (including his own movie reviews, the reviews of others and commentary on current events). He could have a voice without having a voice.

When starting your own twitter feed, it is important to have a voice, while balancing publicity with interesting (and independent) content.  Yes, you may want to use the feed to link to that interview with Material Views.  Yes, you may want to post a link to your new research paper. And you can do these things. But first, make sure to draw potential followers in and keep engaging with them.  Follow them back and retweet.  Respond and start conversations.  Commit to a voice and tone.  If you enchant readers, much like Ebert did, they will stick around.

Check out this previous how-to post on Twitter for authors.

For further reading about Roger Ebert’s Twitter influence, check out this article by Doug Gross of CNN.

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