Lessons for Sustainability Consultants Using Twitter

Twitter is one of the fastest growing mediums for sustainability consulting communication, and for good reason. It's fun, it's quick, and it's effective.

Or at least, it can be all of those things.

It can also be a huge waste of time and a way to alienate people if you're not careful. Here are some of the lesson's we've picked up from our time in the Twittersphere.

Lesson #1: Don't be a narcissist.

As Paul Smith, founder of GreenSmith Consulting, so eloquently stated in his Triple Pundit article in August:

“Brands that only talk about themselves are at risk of being seen as a self focused, chest thumping, attention starved annoyance. But don’t consumers, especially in the sustainable business realm, want to know your story? Absolutely. And as with any story, it’s got to have some degree of relevance to the audience. It’s got to leave people wanting to know more. Anything else is gratuitous ego stroking.”

At Strategic Sustainability Consulting, Jennifer makes sure to keep her Tweets balanced. It generally works out to 3 parts of "sharing other news" to 1 part "referring back to SSC information."

Lesson #2: Use your time wisely.

As Marc Gunther recently wrote:

“Twitter is a super-fast way of keeping up with the news. More important, it's the best way I know of to stay abreast of the news that I need to know -- about business, sustainability, energy, climate, and corporate social responsibility. That's because I've found people I trust on Twitter who share what they are reading and thinking about. By spending 15 to 30 minutes a day on Twitter (not counting the time reading links), I can stay on top of news and commentary that matters to me.”

Twitter is like the ocean—it is vast and can pull you under and drown you if you're not paying attention. Learn to ride Twitter like a wave—dipping in and out. Ruthlessly curate your follower list—or learn to use Twitter lists like a pro.

Lesson #3: Find your people.

If you're just starting out on Twitter, it can be daunting to build your follower list. Start by checking out these lists of sustainability-related Twitter accounts:

Want more information about how to use Twitter to grow your sustainability practice? You're in luck! Check out our 8-week, self-guided, online course called Social Media for Sustainability Professionals. It includes an entire section devoted to Twitter (with additional sections focused on websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, Google+, and more!)—including Twitter etiquette, managing your time on Twitter, and building an engaged audience.