Kevin M. Kruse @KevinMKruse Historian. Author/editor of White Flight; The New Suburban History; Spaces of the Modern City; Fog of War; One Nation Under God; Fault Lines. Nov. 04, 2018 3 min read

I've gotten a couple requests to do this, so ... sure. Why not.

First of all, I really have to stress that I had absolutely no plan going into this, and I barely have any coherent approach to it now.

Last year, someone asked me what my "Twitter strategy" was and I just burst into laughter for a full minute or two. I've got nothing.

But I guess I've learned a few things along the way, so for what it's worth, here goes.

The first thing I realized was that you can't use Twitter as your own personal promotional device.

Sure, that's why many scholars get on here -- my publisher basically forced me to join up -- but if that's all you do, no one will care. Your feed can't just be press releases.

The second thing I learned, and this took me a while, was that it can't be antiseptic.

My first year here was basically a lot of "On this day in history..." posts that pretty much read like a blog at the History Channel.

It was ... fine? But why would anyone care?

The turning point for me came during the debates over Confederate memorials and "Southern heritage" during the summer of 2015. I took that nonsense personally, as a Southern historian and a Southerner too.

And so my tweets started to reflect that. They started to reflect me.

That's key, I think. You really have to blend your own professional expertise with your own personality.

As you may have come to understand here, I've got a dry sense of humor and a real penchant for sarcasm. Once I started tweeting in my own voice, that finally came through.

More than that, you have to remember that Twitter is basically a conversation. A key part of "social media" is being social.

And that means your replies and engagement on *other* people's tweets is probably as important than anything you tweet yourself, if not more so.

I can't tell you how many times I've been stunned to discover someone I knew in real life was on Twitter and I didn't know about it, and it has always been because they were off on their own feed barely engaging with others.

Get into the mentions and engage people.

And one group who's vital here on Twitter are journalists.

They're looking to meet people who are experts on subjects they're addressing, especially if it's a new topic for them. They're smart, eager to hear from you, to learn about your work when it's relevant, etc.

Thanks to this place, I now know a *lot* of brilliant journalists whose work I long admired. Some of them already knew my books, but most of them didn't.

But I butted into enough of their feeds to get to know them, and so they could get to know me too. And others through them.

It's one thing to get people's attention, and another to hold it.

As @KevinLevin noted, a key part of this is variety -- you need some serious scholarly work, but also some contemporary commentary and, yes, something that shows you're a human being.

Whatever you do, you've got to be on here fairly regularly. Every day at least, ideally a few times.

I've heard from many people who followed my list of historians only to complain that a lot of them don't tweet much, or at all. You can't just have the mic, you have to use it.

Again, that's not for everybody. Especially not scholars as a lot of us have tons of demands on our time.

I get that! But if you want a following here, well, you've got to give folks a reason to follow!

Now, my last bit of advice is probably the most important.

Dunk on Dinesh D'Souza. I mean, people really do NOT like that guy.

I went from 80K to 160K in two weeks just from a few threads on his nonsense.

Seriously, though, people really do want experts to use their expertise to help them navigate all the nonsense on the internet.

Whatever you can do -- fact-checking idiots, providing context for the news, throwing the oddities from your research into the universe -- do it!

All right, now get out there, champ.

You can follow @KevinMKruse.


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