Establishing Your Twitter Presence: An Interview with Julie

Interviewer’s Note:  Julie Kay of JK Leadership Development has done a fantastic job in establishing herself as an authority in her field, and built a Twitter following of over 120,000 people.  I interviewed her recently to learn about her strategies for building her personal brand and learning about the role Twitter played in the work.

Hello Julie, welcome to the Pluggio Blog!  How do you describe your business?

JK Leadership Development is a leadership and management development consultancy working with small to medium sized businesses to select, develop and retain the right people, in the right roles, with the right skills.  My colleagues are experts in Organisation Design and Human Resource Strategy while I specialise in Learning and Leadership.

What do you do for your clients?

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, having highly motivated and engaged staff who are willing to take ownership and responsibility, use their initiative, and contribute their best thinking, will be a key differentiator of successful businesses. This requires effective leadership at all levels. Everyone can and must be an effective leader in order to achieve the best outcomes. Command and control leadership is out and collaborative, engaging leadership is most definitely in.

How do you go about doing that?

I work with managers and executives to improve individual and team performance by overcoming the five barriers to outstanding performance. The result is maximum impact on behavior and results with minimal disruption to core operations.

The work is all about finding and developing leaders and managers who are able to build strong trusting relationships with those around them; to communicate the vision and goals of the organisation and engage people in making that vision a reality. That’s a challenge especially in the current climate when they are more likely to have de-motivated and cynical staff, time-pressed managers and squeezed resources.

What role does Twitter play in your business?

I approach online marketing in the same way as any other marketing strategy. I am discerning about which media I use and clear about what I want to achieve. Some businesses appear to just start using it because others say they should, but have no clear strategy or goals in mind.  For my particular market and my own personal style of marketing, Twitter has become my main online platform.

You say you have a clear strategy in mind- can you describe that a bit?  

I use it to raise my profile; build my expert reputation and find and maintain collaborative relationships with people in related fields. I don’t sell, ever, on-line. I give relevant and valuable things away for free. I also don’t expect to get to decision makers through online marketing. In my business, new work still largely comes through personal recommendation or by hearing me speak at business events. They may then check me out online but I don’t find they source new suppliers via online marketing.

What impact or change have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?

The immediacy of Twitter is fantastic. The ability to interact and keep up to date with clients, colleagues, and leaders and managers directly takes relationship building to a whole new level.  I tweeted a friend the other day and mentioned that my Dyson cleaner was broken. Within two minutes I had a tweet from Helen at Dyson suggesting I ring their customer service and providing the number. We can all find ways to use similar opportunities in our own businesses.

Are there any of your accomplishments with social marketing that you are particularly proud of?

I don’t get excited about the 120,000+ followers I have on Twitter because I made a decision to go wide with my followers and not try and be too targeted. What I do get excited about are the 100 or so Twitter followers a month that opt-in to my mailing list. They are the ones who are actively interested and want to find out more.

How do Twitter/social media help you achieve your goals?

In much the same way as my free newsletter and blog. It’s a great keep in touch strategy. Sometimes I pop up in front of people at a time they are grappling with an issue that they need help with. It keeps me front of mind when they are ready to buy. I also hope that all the managers on Twitter who lap up my free resources think of me when they or their company needs more in depth work, but only time will tell on that one.

You have quite a massive following- How did you build it??  What kinds of people/businesses are they?

I follow the people that follow leadership and management. They usually reciprocate and follow me back. Then I use lists to build relationships with people who interest me. The vast majority of my followers are either employed managers or other people working in the same or related fields as me.

If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?

I would have been less fearful of showing my personality and tweeting about my personal life as well as tweeting my professional tips and articles.. I think people want to know who you are as a person as well as a leadership specialist. I held back on that for ages as I saw that most of my counterparts, only tweeted in relation to work. I now use both. If followers don’t like it there are plenty of people to follow who only tweet about leadership and management, but I like building personal relationships and I often get more re-tweets and replies to personal messages.

What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?

Twitter enables me to easily ask questions, give tips, make comments, and get an instant response. It keeps my finger on the pulse of day to day management challenges in the real world.

What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?

Be clear on your goals and strategy and set realistic expectations. Find ways to maintain your presence as easily and effortlessly as possible.

Follow Julie on Twitter here.

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