Oooh. That’s an interesting question.
So, I joined Twitter 6, 7 years ago when I was still a student. Back then, I was very aware that I wanted my social media to be a professional space, especially because I was joining with no resume and only a handful of friends on there. So I very much limited my non-brand-related personal chatter and never talked politics.
Becoming politically aware, and then politically active on social media (even about rep issues) was something I actually wasn’t comfortable with at all until a couple years ago. Even now, I try to be very careful. If I haven’t done reading on an issue, I won’t speak on it, and I might RT some articles I’ve read. And there are a handful of issues I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole in any sense, because I’m not comfortable getting involved in a conversation where I’m not sure my voice is helpful.
Social media, especially Twitter, is now in a place where if you aren’t politically engaged, your silence will be noted, so you need to be comfortable to a degree in talking about these things, and pay attention to the community. But if you step in shit, the blowback can be bad, so you have to balance what will hurt you more: not speaking on a topic that you’re not totally up on, or speaking out of ignorance and potentially making an ass of yourself. Which means sometimes you have to do the work of keeping caught up, if only so you can participate in these conversations in a healthy, helpful way. (Of course worth noting here is that, oftentimes, keeping caught up on this stuff also makes you a better writer - and a better person - so it’s worth the work.) Also, listening to folks when you piss them off and learning the art of the genuine apology are key.
Back when I was getting traction, there were a couple things that really helped:
- RTing interesting links and/or voices involved in my professional sphere. [Note: when you’re smaller and your followers are less likely to know your POV, it’s more likely to be assumed that RTs = endorsements] Find a few sources that you think are interesting, figure out ‘what types’ of things you want to read and share, so that people know when they follow you they’ll get x and they probably won’t have to suffer through y.
(Your strategy can evolve over time. For example: I used to RT pretty much all casting announcements in TV; now, I’ll usually RT series regular castings, but almost never recurring ones. It would eat up my whole feed, and less of my base is looking for me for pure industry news dissemination.)
- Livetweeting. My first real burst of momentum was when I would livetweet guest lectures in whole-year mass classes at Ryerson, which had the double purpose of helping out my friends (as my feed would essentially take lecture notes for them) and disseminating the lecturer’s points more publicly. (Note: Nowadays, with livetweets more common, you wanna keep an eye on whether other people are doing it and whether the event is livetweet-friendly. Some are intentionally non-public, to encourage a lecturer’s honesty.) My second was livetweeting panels at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, which had the same effect for my screenwriting peers - even those who were more established than me. That helped me connect with some legit Canadian TV writers, which was a huge little networking coup for me as a uni student.
I’d say, the more of a following you get, the more leeway you have to be ‘boring’/personal because the more people will be interested in you, rather than you as a resource for things they’re more interested in. But alternately, the more following you have, the more responsibility you have: to share accurate information, to be politically active, to be respectful of your followers’ feeds by not clogging them up, etc. Now that I have a decent following, I’ve loosened up my rules about talking about personal things (though I still keep it vague because it’s still public), and I even joke sometimes - but I’m also careful not to be an asshole, where I can help it, because my voice is louder now. I expect, if my following continues to grow, I’ll have to keep evolving - especially because, as I’ve seen for celebrities, the rules of the game are very different and kind of scary.