At The Arland Group, we think and talk a lot about how social media can help companies engage with people, generate interest in their business and inspire fandom. We generally focus on using social media to bring meaning and engagement to a business, but the connectivity of social media benefits individuals, too.
As a St. Louis transplant, I used social media to discover a welcoming and vibrant community. I moved to St. Louis knowing next to no one and decided to get a Twitter account around the same time. Creating an account ended up being one of the best decisions I made. Through Twitter, I discovered and participated in conversations that helped me get to know the people and culture of St. Louis. Here are ways you can get to know a new community or city through Twitter:
Showcase your personality and interests: People see social media as a great way to promote their personal brand, but your personal brand is so much more than just your career. Find people in your city that share your interests and reach out to them. Ask for their opinion on the best wine bar in the city. Let them know if you enjoyed an article they wrote. Twitter can feel like a big, empty space with a lot of information, so take the time to turn those tweets into interactions.
Search for clubs and organizations in your industry: If you discover a professional organization in your area you’re interested in joining, find them on Twitter. By following them you can express interest in their organization while you determine if their culture aligns with your personality and professional goals.
Follow local hashtags: By following #STL, I’ve gotten access to early bird soccer tickets, information about free concerts and learned where to eat the best Reuben in St. Louis. By discovering the popular, local hashtags and following them, you create a real-time connection to what’s happening in your city and industry.
Help people out when they need it: Twitter gives you a community at your fingertips. Don’t simply tweet to spread your own message—remember to give back to and engage with your community. People always are looking for advice and answers, so if you notice a question you can help with, then offer a response. Don’t let helpful information stop with you; share tweets about open jobs, social gatherings or just any information that you would appreciate receiving. The little interactions are what matter the most.
Move the conversation offline: Meeting Twitter friends IRL (Twitter speak for “in real life”) is awkward, but that awkwardness is expected. After all, even communications professionals struggle with actually being social in real life. Once you get past the whole “we met online” stigma you’ll get to enjoy learning from and hanging out with people who share your interests, either personally or professionally.