Your online reputation is your reputation. And it better be good.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
The way you describe yourself on Twitter has everything to do with how people perceive you online. So how the heck do you do it right?
But before we get into that, let’s first discuss the challenges of creating a Twitter bio.
Seven challenges to creating a Twitter bio
It’s a little bit challenging when it comes to a Twitter description. Here’s why.
1. You only get 160 characters.
Not a period more. That’s not a lot of room to tell the world how awesome you are, and that you also love bacon. And coffee.
Shoot. That’s already like 63 characters.
2. If you’re on Twitter, your bio will appear in the search results when people search for your name.
In other words, your Twitter profile will be one of the most visible descriptions of you on the Internet.
No pressure or anything.
3. You are destined to be predictable, not outstanding.
If you read a dozen Twitter bios, you’ve read them all. They tend to be pretty predictable. Everyone loves coffee and is an entrepreneur and an “aficionado” of something. What does “aficionado” even mean?
If you want to go the easy route, you can try “The Twitter Bio Generator.” Simply click “Generate Bio,” and voila—out comes your canned description. Here’s what I got:
It goes to show you that Twitter is a place where even a bit of originality can get you maximum notice.
4. People might think you’re a fraud.
Sorry about this, but if you fall into the seething masses of ordinary Twitter users, people might just think you’re a fake. Especially if you still have an egg as your profile pic.
Pretty sure this person is unreal. Thanks for the follow, anyway.
5. Even if you try to be funny, you might not be.
Some people have some really hilarious Twitter bios.
Some of us aren’t quite as gifted.
6. Being creative is tough.
There’s a pervasive belief that you must have a really creative Twitter bio. After my comment about the millions of wannabe “aficionados” on Twitter, you may be thinking depressive thoughts about your not-so-creative streak.
It’s true. Being creative is hard to do.
7. Being self-promoting is tougher.
Another hard thing is trying “sell” yourself on Twitter. It feels kind of selfish or arrogant, or narcissistic, or whatever it is that people aren’t supposed to be.
I get that. Self-promotion isn’t comfortable, but it’s not an entirely negative thing. After all, you’re writing a bio. That’s what’s supposed to go there — stuff about you.
The world is full of a bunch of people who may not like you, regardless of how cute your bio is, and a lot of people who will like you even if your bio is crap, and a lot of people who won’t care one way or the other.
So, whether you’re facing your critics, reveling in the stardom, or snubbing the apathetic, you need a really good Twitter profile.
Challenges, be gone. Here are the ingredients for success.
The 7 ingredients of a compelling Twitter bio
Now that I’ve finished setting the table with all the challenges, I’m going to sketch for you what an awesome description looks like.
1. It’s accurate. Tell what you really do or are.
You want to pitch your true identity on Twitter. While it’s true that you may have a zombie obsession or a Star Wars hobby, you don’t need to call yourself “Jedi” or something. It could be funny to some people, but it’s better to actually tell people what you really are.
Accuracy is the key here. People are interested in following you because of what you actually do, not what you think is going to be clever.
2. It’s exciting. Make it sound cool. Because it is.
Twitter is a place to generate excitement and buzz. If you consider yourself boring, Twitter is not the place to show it. Add some pizzazz to your bio with an upbeat tone and optimistic verbiage.
3. It’s targeted. Attract people like yourself.
Twitter is a place to interact with people who are in your niche. In order to be considered part of this niche, you have to use words that this niche uses.
The people who follow you will do so because they see those targeted words, and know that you share some commonalities. It doesn’t matter that she’s in Dubai and you’re in Dorset, you are both “bloggers.” Use specific words that describe someone in your role or occupation.
4. It’s flattering. Tell about your accomplishments.
Here we get into the idea of self promotion. I like to think of a Twitter profile as a sort of modern day resume. You don’t have to go right out and say “I am very awesome,” but you should communicate the value that you can provide.
The goal of a resume is to get hired. The goal of a Twitter bio is to get followed. But both resumes and Twitter bios should communicate a degree of accomplishment. What have you done?
- If you’re a parent, that’s a pretty cool accomplishment. “Dad” or “Mom,” depending on your specialty, will do just nicely.
- If you started a company, welcome to the ranks of the “entrepreneur.”
- If you helped a company, you are a “problem solver.”
- If you run sometimes, maybe you can be a “fitness guru.”
- If you give to charity, perhaps you’re a “philanthropist.”
The idea is, you’re doing something of value, contributing in some way. You’re not on Twitter as just a taker. You’re there as an active participant. You have value.
5. It’s humanizing. Prove that you’re legit.
Remember those millions of fake Twitter profiles? Don’t be them.
Along with a legitimate headshot as your profile picture, you should have an element of the “real you” in your bio. This is where you get to talk about coffee, craft beer, and whatever other connoisseur-ness you possess.
Jamie Crager evidently loves chips and salsa, which is great. I’m very inclined to believe that he is a human being.
The real you is the you that people want to follow. Authenticity will make you stand out. And you’ll stand out in a good way.
6. It’s intriguing. Invite people to follow you.
“Oh. Another one of those.” Is that what people think when they read your profile?
If so, then maybe you can add some intrigue. Here’s how Julia Rosien did it.
Right off the bat, she tells us that she’s a “globetrotter.” Assuming you’re interested in traveling (lots of people are), then this is intriguing.
Where is Julia now? Where is she going? Where has she been? Has she visited Singapore like I have? That single word “globetrotter,” not to mention the airplane image, are intriguing.
7. It’s connected. Use hashtags, @s, or links.
Twitter bios can help people branch out into various facets of your identity.
- Hashtags: If you are an “SEO” for example, you can add “#SEO” to connect your bio to mentions of #SEO on twitter.
- @’s. If you work at a company, have started business, or are otherwise connected to some other Twitter accounts, link to them.
- Links. You can add outbound links to your Twitter profile, too. I recommend this with caution, because it can take up valuable character space and make your bio look a little tacky. But it does work.
This is what I do in my bio:
If you’re incredibly creative or outstandingly hilarious, then you can dispense with the “exciting” part. And if you’re unbelievably famous, then you can dispense with the “accurate” ingredient. And if you’re not a human, don’t worry about the “humanizing” element.
But for the rest of us, this is what we need — a bio that accurately conveys our ability, excites the user, attracts our niche, asserts or non-botness, and invites people to follow us.
Recipe for an amazing Twitter Bio
So far, I’ve given you a description of a description. You have seven ingredients. That’s only marginally helpful. Now, I’m going to give you not just the “ingredients” but the recipe.
How do you mix these ingredients together into the secret sauce of an awesome Twitter bio?
- It’s accurate. One professional description.
- It’s exciting. One word that is not boring.
- It’s targeted. One niche descriptor.
- It’s flattering. One accomplishment.
- It’s humanizing. One hobby.
- It’s intriguing. One interesting fact or feature about yourself.
- It’s connected. Your company or another social profile.
You don’t have to have seven sections. In other words, your exciting word can be the same as your flattering word. Your humanizing section can be the same as your intriguing appeal.
Let me give you some a few fictional examples:
- Blogging about Biometric Devices | Founder of @biometricblogs | Companion of 5 Cats
- Social Media Manager for @UptownPro. I love building massive Twitter followings. I drink only Merlot, and live in a castle with @JohnEyeAm
See how those descriptions use all the ingredients? And all within 160 characters.
Here are some real ones:
Ready to unleash some a powerful Twitter bio? Keep a few things in mind:
- You don’t have to fill all 160 characters.
- You don’t have to feel bad talking about yourself. That’s sort of the idea of a bio.
- You don’t have to follow conventions.
- You don’t have to use descriptors. You can use sentences.
It may take a few tries before you feel like you’ve nailed it. That’s okay. You’re allowed to change your Twitter description as often as you like. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to do so. With every change, hopefully you’ll get closer to perfection.
What are some of your ideas to create a powerful Twitter bio? Let’s talk about them in the comments.