Shonda Rhimes knows how to write long-running television dramas. But she's also a master of the short, snappy Tweet.
Rhimes, the powerful TV producer behind Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, on Monday was nominated for a 2015 Shorty Award, which recognizes social media content across platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube.
It's the latest laurel for Rhimes, one of the most successful and entrepreneurial people in Hollywood. The TV shows she writes and runs through her production company, Shondaland, are critically acclaimed, popular, and fun--not to mention groundbreaking in their diversity. Her shows have won Emmys, Golden Globes, and a Peabody Award, and Rhimes herself is a three-time recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series, among several other honors.
On top of all these accomplishments, Rhimes knows how to work her social media accounts: She has more than 865,000 followers on Twitter alone. Here's what you can learn from her Shorty-nominated social media success:
1. Don't be afraid to have an opinion.
Although social media strategist Libby Turner, a senior director at digital marketing agency Room 214, recently told Inc. that it's best to "shy away from criticism" online, she also noted the importance of being true to yourself and to your brand.
That's true of Rhimes, who can be vocal about what she thinks society is getting wrong--even at the risk of alienating some people. During the Oscars, for instance, Rhimes chimed in on the #AskHerMore Twitter campaign, demanding that reporters ask better questions of female celebrities on the red carpet beyond their outfits: "Stop asking women questions about what they wear to cover the containers they carry their brains around in," Rhimes posted ahead of the ceremony. She also tweeted a critical reaction to Lady Gaga's "Sound of Music" Oscars performance, writing:
Rhimes received some criticism for the Tweet, and later acknowledged, "I probably did miss the point." But fear of others' reactions didn't keep her from voicing her opinions. As Turner says, it's important to be "fearless" when it comes to social media. Are you taking enough risks to support your brand identity?
2. Don't stop (re)tweeting.
Rhimes posts frequently, keeping her followers up to date about her daily life, career, and projects. She links to teasers for upcoming episodes, such as in the below tweet from the associated Grey's Anatomy account:
Turner notes that it's important to post a "mix of personal and professional content" on Twitter, and Rhimes does more than post about herself and her projects; she links to news articles she's reading, acknowledges her fans, and remembers to give thanks to her fellow celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey.
Rhimes also doesn't take her Twitter self too seriously: "I make stuff up for a living," her Twitter bio reads. "Remember it's not real, okay? Don't tweet me your craziness."
Keeping a similar sense of humor about social media, and using it for more than simple self-promotion, can help improve your Twitter account--even if you're not an established celebrity.
3. Join the greater conversation, whether or not it seems relevant to you.
Rhimes doesn't just tweet about film and television; she posts about what's going on in the social and political world, too. She urged her followers to register for Obamacare ahead of the deadline, for example, and recently retweeted a message from the Human Rights Campaign in support of marriage equality.
She even offered her 2 cents on the #Dressgate phenomenon (though you may be disappointed to find that she didn't mention what color she thought it was):
The winners of the Shorty Awards will be announced on April 20th. So stay tuned, and tweet on.