How to Write Your #Twitter Bio aka What YOUR Twitter Bio Reveals

Category: Weekly Columns

How do you use the short space allowed to describe yourself in your Twitter bio? I believe a Twitter bio reveals a lot. Mine is below and let’s analyze it first, before I break apart others.

What is the first thing you see? I would think it’s the image – the caricature of me so wonderfully done by @VoogDesigns, who also is the incredible illustrator for my Because I Said So comic strip.

What’s next? “Dad, writer, radio host, founder of #DadChat.” I explicitly chose to put “Dad” first because that is what I want YOU to know first about me. I am a dad and I treasure that job. The rest is gravy.

What else? You see my name. Yes, MY NAME. Not some cute alter ego. My name. I believe our names are our identity and I believe it is important to try and secure a twitter handle that has some form of your name within it. Yes, Dave Smith is probably gone, but you can be clever.

The other two things that are present and important to me are links to my website and Facebook Page. I also mention my book, though frankly, that is old news and I will likely update my Twitter profile to emphasize more current activities of mine.

When I began this column, I expected to take apart twitter bios that I find weak or stupid. The ones that are offensive, with bad language and inappropriate images are a waste of time and I don’t care about them one way or another. But, for those that are simply “weak or stupid,” I could offer some suggestions.

Since I’ve come to learn that Social Media = Social Good and that being a troll or lurker is cowardly, I will NOT point out any specific twitter bios that I think are “weak or stupid.”

Instead, I’ll just offer my two cents of what should and should not be included in a Twitter bio. Of course, if you’re a porn site, put up the raciest photo and language you can. If you’re a business, make sure your business is front and center. If it’s all for fun, maybe it doesn’t matter. If it’s your kids, you should care and pay attention and maybe, just maybe, intervene if they’re presenting themselves in a poor light. That is your job as parent after all!

So, herewith, in no particular order are some suggestions for your Twitter bio, many of which I’ve described already earlier in this column. I’ve chosen not to give guidelines for a business Twitter bio as those would be quite different and merit a separate column:

~~ Use your name if you can. If not, use some part of your name.
~~ Choose a photo or image (like my caricature) that reveals something about YOU.
~~ Lead with your strength and what you believe is most important that people know about you.
~~ Include the most important link or two that invites people to know more about you.
~~ Tell us where you are! I find it so pompous to read something like “citizen of the world.”
~~ This may be a shocker, but tell the truth!
~~ Get feedback on your image, on your bio from people you respect and adjust accordingly.
~~ Send me your twitter bio and I’ll review it for you. Condition: you come to #DadChat.
~~ Put #DadChat in your twitter bio…just kidding.
~~ Write something! Who wants to follow someone who puts NOTHING in his or her bio?

What do you think is important to include or exclude from a Twitter bio? Please share your comments and ideas below.

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  • http://stay-at-homedadblunders.tumblr.com/ dadblunders

    I never really gave it much thought about my twitter bio before.  I need to give that some serious consideration now. I had my name in my handle at one time but didn’t think it said enough about who I was…

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      See, DB – I can’t find your name on your website…will see if it’s there on Twitter…nope not there either! So, I can’t address you by your name, which I’d like to do!

      • http://stay-at-homedadblunders.tumblr.com/ dadblunders

         Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to this.  I updated my website and I added a link to my facebook fan page on twitter (I just added the fanpage actually I never had one before)

        I have a degree in social work and used to child abuse investigations so I have been reluctant to put my full name on the website.  I have my first name on there now and  want to show authenticity in everything. 

        Being a social worker and having done child abuse investigations before hand makes me a little nervous about giving to much because I have a 3 year old son.  I have seen far more than average person has ever seen.  What are your thoughts on this?

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          I think you are being SAFE rather than sorry and you can’t go wrong with that thinking! Stick with your instincts!

          • http://stay-at-homedadblunders.tumblr.com/ dadblunders

            Thanks Bruce I appreciate that!  I really enjoy blogging and getting to share things about my life and things I have learned with other people. I am still learning a lot about the blogging world. I had a tumblr first (still do) and thought I would try my own URL to have a little more control.  I just want to be able to continue to help people and  to do what i do best “be a dad.” 
            Aaron

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            Owning your own URL is also a KEY thing to do. Seems like you are completely on the right track, Aaron (my 2nd son’s name, btw!)…

          • http://stay-at-homedadblunders.tumblr.com/ dadblunders

             Last question on this thread Bruce…Any suggestions on getting started that would help a someone trying to make it in the blogging world? I have been reading as much as possible and responding to posts and trying to be part of the community. I even joined triberr (dadblunders) and I have been looking for a good dad tribe to join (no luck so far but I am trying.) I also am looking forward to #dadchat on Thursdays!! I appreciate your insight and have enjoyed following you on twitter and reading your blog! (Aaron is a awesome name for a child, maybe I am little biased though)

            Aaron

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            Aaron, you should have a DM invite to the #DadChat tribe – THAT will get you connected right away with great people. Just be sure to tweet out our stream and not overload it with posts.

            Coming to #DadChat will HELP a great deal. Go to #BlogChat on Sundays. And, as I always say: comment, Comment, COMMENT!

  • http://cirquedumot.com/new-readers/ Susan Silver

    I disagree about location data. For a business, heck yeah, that field will give you some local search engine love. For me, I don’t need potential stalkers. I try to keep my personal stuff of the radar as much as possible. That is why I hesitate to use a service like Foursquare. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You may be right, Susan! TY for weighing in!

  • http://twitter.com/indydadblogger Pete G

    Good points.  I like being able to see where people are located because I write for Cincy and Indy magazines. I’m trying to follow and be followed by local people. Thanks Bruce. It seems easier to get followers on Twitter than likes on FB? What are your thoughts on this?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Susan’s point about location is a good one – for women especially. Not that saying “Los Angeles” will really pinpoint where you are! I think the key is building a good number of either/or follower and likes. I’ve worked very hard on the latter, “working” my A Dad’s Point-of-View Facebook Page hard. It now have over 4,500 “likes” but I don’t know how much that means. As for Twitter followers, my new “team” has simply put my name on some lists and that has increased my followers substantially though I will NOT buy followers under any circumstance and I ONLY follow back people that I actually LOOK at!

      • http://cirquedumot.com/new-readers/ Susan Silver

        If I was in Los Angeles, I would probably add it to my bio. I am in a very small town and too easy to identify. When I come back to a big city then I will probably change things again. It really depends on someone’s comfort level. Some need more privacy than others. 

        What a great thread Bruce!

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          I completely agree, Susan!

  • Jetts31

    For something that doesn’t seem so difficult, I agonized over mine and I think I had already hit most of your points. Do you think it’s smart to change up the bio every once in a while for the sake of changing it or amend the information when the situation calls for it?  Also, do you think its better to keep the same avatar or change that once in a while?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Yes. …. Sorry, I couldn’t resist, Jimmy.

      I absolutely think changing the bio “when the situation calls for it” is a VERY good thing. As for the Avatar, I think mixing it up until you have the RIGHT one may also be a good thing. I experimented and really valued the feedback I got earlier – especially the backlash when I put up a non-photo/non-caricature. Was NOT liked. Now, I think I’ve got a permanent one with the great caricature by @VoogDesigns:twitter 

  • http://twitter.com/MimiBakerMN MimiBakerMN

    I’ve changed my bio over the last couple of years. The first part always stays…about who I am. Dabney convinced me that my original handle had nothing to do with who I was socially and blog wise so that’s why it became what it is now. I love reading creative, fun bios!!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Mimi, we so agree. YOU have changed your photo – each one more pretty than the previous!

  • http://twitter.com/TinyChunks TinyChunks

    Bruce, good post and I agree that it’s important to spend some time thinking of a good bio. Tell us more about these “lists” you were placed on. You were at just over 9,000 followers on Twitter at the end of April and in only 30 days, just a month later you doubled your followers to more than 20,000. Forget the Bio, I think we’d like to know how one has an account for almost 3 years and then in just one month gets 10,000 followers. Thanks for the info, you’ve always been very helpful and gracious!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I will have to get back to you on that, TC…still trying to find out the details (seriously)! And, I’ve been on Twitter since November 18, 2009. I want to know how some of my friends aka NORMAL peeps not celebs have gotten well over 100,000 followers – some 250K and more! I understand Lady Gaga getting millions of followers or a BIG SoMe celebrity like Guy Kawasaki, but some others I don’t get – very happy for them, but truly envious as it brings a lot to things we do in SoMe if we have that many followers!

    • http://twitter.com/dt4m DT Linda Gross

      what tiny said!  “in 30 days…got 10,000 followers”.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Well TinyChunks, I hired a SM “manager” and she has yet to explain to me the lists that she put me on. In a couple of weeks, I got those additional followers – we DID NOT BUY them, which I know is possible. She said we will “do it again” later in the summer. When I finally get a “how does it work” from her, I’d be happy to share!

  • Brianhgill

    Good points all around. (I’m not signing in, it’s a security protocol
    thing) About using my real name, I often use “Aluwir,” since it’s unique
    – while there are many folks named “Brian H. Gill.” As for the rest:
    ‘keep it simple, tell the truth, and say who you are’ all make good
    sense.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Brian. As for the trutth… Over-rated…lol.

  • Mindy

    OK, Bruce, you’re on. I reworked my Twitter bio, and would much appreciate you giving it a look-see. And, I’ll see you at #DadChat I have been contemplating changing my handle since I am not just a baker, but really a dessert maker these days. But, I think people already know that handle and think it would confuse them if I changed it now. Whaddya think? Thank you!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Mindy, given how you signed in, I don’t know who you are? Tweet me and I’ll let you know what I think!

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    By the time I joined Twitter I had established a certain amount of brand equity so I made a point to use a photo that many knew me by.

    I expect that at some point in the future I will change it. Real pictures are good.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I understand that feeling of not changing your established brand, but sometimes a refresh is a good thing, JB!

  • http://twitter.com/SteveCassady Steve Cassady

    Solid Advice.  Knowing a persons’ real name, really helps with the engagement and expanding the relationship on other social media platforms.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx much, Steve!

  • Michael Alexander Couwenberg

    Tomorow I’ll check my bio.

  • Michael Alexander Couwenberg

    This is what I looked 40 decades back. It’s a shame that all that is waisted away and I dare not show what is recently happening to my mask. And could you tell from my profiler picture who I am? If you analyse it correctly you’re my man/woman and I will allways love you for it.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Michael, since you didn’t sign in via your Twitter account, I can’t see your Twitter bio!?

  • SocialHats

    “I believe our names are our identity” – are they ? really? Isn’t a name just a represenantion of some sort, which we did not even agree to “wear” ?!? (don’t tell me your parents asked for your permission if they should call you Bruce … or maybe Brandon !?)
    Isn’t rather the personal ego, the need some people feel to show off and get that feeling of being a little “celebrity” themselves, which determines all this “use your name” kind of support? Or, the fact they have built a business around their name, which justifies them wanting to use that particular name? (I very much doubt this would be more than a boring twitter account though …)

    I want to be free to write what I really feel and think, and not always have to worry if my neighbour or my employer do like that or if they would use the 1st opportunity to shoot back at me.

    Using your own name means autoimposing a censorship on all thar you write, so what we read it’s not what you really feel, think and would love to share, but what you think would please some audience or will serve your immediate business needs.
     
    Look at those who tweet in their “own name” – you’ll mostly find boring tweets and self promotion.
    I do only follow INTERESTING users, do not care at all about their nickname. If they have something interesting, fresh, innovative or even controversial to share, I am ready to listen.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      So we agree?

    • http://twitter.com/dt4m DT Linda Gross

      “I do only follow INTERESTING users, do not care at all about their nickname.”

      i fully agree.  for example, i followed Rihanna, only because she’s a twitter master with 15MM users.  i wanted to find out what she does that is captivating.  guess what?  i quit her in 3 days because she is too raunchy.  i love her music.  thought she was a great actrress in Battleship…BUT, i really dont think she needs all the street, gutter talk.  i quit her.  so?  her name, her standing doesn’t hold up (for me).  i decide to ‘follow back’ based on if the content is interesting…not because of someone’s name or handle.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Exactly, Linda!

  • http://www.inclinedesign.info CASUDI

    I like to change my written profile from time to time and see what happens. One of the last times I did this (wish I could remember the details to put them here) but the “new” profile actively lost me followers.

    I also changed my avatar for 24 hours not long ago (after all 3 years the same red hat, isn’t that boring?) however due to popular demand I reverted back fast:-) In fact people were quite outspoken about the change. Obviously if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, even for research.

    How many times have you changed your avatar & profile to get where you are today? As always Bruce, I enjoy your posts.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Caroline, I have 3 Twitter profiles. My first and main one, @BruceSallan:twitter I’ve played around with a few times as far as the bio. I’m like you – SETTLED – with my avatar after getting the marvelous caricature from @VoogDesigns:twitter. As far as content, I have edited it as things have changed. My 2 back up profiles – for when I’m in Twitter jail – @aDadsPov:twitter   and @SuperSallan:twitter have remained pretty much the same, but I think changing ’em up now and then is just wise.  

  • http://twitter.com/SbuxMel Melody

    Great suggestions. But not everybody has such a handsome mug and perfect bio like Bruce! I do cringe though when I look at barely filled out bios and I KNOW the person and know it could be an incredible bio. I’m sure that has happened to others.

    I’ve tweaked with my own bio now and then. I think it sounds pretty good – I give people fair warning that I’ll flood them with tweets about Starbucks.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      By golly Melody, you MADE my day!

  • Wahlev

    Bruce, great article, thanks! Could you give my bio a look-over? @aviationexprt

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Evan, yours is SPOT ON! The only thing I might suggest – BUT you would know better who your profile “serves” – is to add a photo with you wearing a cap with your USMC insignia. You are obviously proud of that – since you mentioned it – and it might give you a little whimsy! Truly, though, your bio is just fine. Like your twitter handle and then your name when we look! 

      • Evan

        Thanks for the look and advice. I appreciate it.

  • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

    I think I’ve done a decent job with the bio. I get my priorities across – hit the highlights on where I work, and what we do…and of course get in a plug for 12 Most because I love the contributions from all the writers there (and the camaraderie). I manage to have a URL for our social media monitoring solution as well as my personal blog.

    Where I probably vary from the ideal – I have a picture of me with my wife. However, that again establishes my priorities, so I’m OK with it. My Gravatar has a picture of me with sunglasses (so that is what shows up next to this comment). Again, that probably does a decent job of reflecting my personality without being offensive – unless you do not like Oakley sunglasses or the Texas Longhorns ;).

    Great suggestions, Bruce.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I think it’s GREAT to have a photo of you and your wife. YOUR relationship shines and it is THAT important to you and about you. I’m NO expert on this – just giving out my thoughts. The experts might disagree with me on some of these “tips!”

  • Marsybillinger

    I could use some help with my bio! Right now it says “Professional job search coach and career advisor.” – which is true and professional but boring. I was thinking of something like “Job search coach, career advisor, proud mum, animal lover, and vegetarian”  Is that too unprofessional for a professional??

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I don’t think it’s unprofessional at all, Marsy…however, you may want to have two Twitter profiles – one that is strictly business and the other personal.

      • Marsybillinger

        Thanks, Bruce! Looking forward to your tweets.

  • http://twitter.com/sunkat sunkat (Kat S)

    Who knew twitter would be so influential! I have reworked my bio several times. I am sure my current bio can use a Summer dust off too. With such diverse interest, I am coming to the realization that I am going to need a second handle for those who could care less that a rats foot about my strong opinions. As for my avatar I took votes on my FB for feedback before rolling it out to Twitter. It was a big leap to change it.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You’ve been smart all along Kat! Well done!

      • http://twitter.com/sunkat sunkat (Kat S)

         Thanks Bruce!

  • http://www.daddysbroke.com/ Craig

    That’s a great post Bruce! I’m thinking that I need to work on my twitter profile a little. I can complain sometimes. It’s only about night shift usually. Haha! Thanks for this!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx Craig…changing our profiles now and then is just like Spring Cleaning!

  • http://twitter.com/ReetaLuthra Reeta Luthra

    When I first got online, it was during the days of usenet, dodgy web forums and anonymity. Anyone using their real name was considered “get-him-off-the-streets-for-his-own-good” material. 

    I kind of agree with “SocialHats” comment that we censor our posts when we post in our real name because we don’t think or behave in black and white. An extreme example, say you were anti-capital punishment but some mega-criminal got executed and you were secretly happy about it. It’d be tough to admit to that online if your entire online persona had been crafted around being against capital punishment. 

    Regarding the bad twitter profiles with the language and images, they probably live their lives for immediate gratification…. wow deep psychological insight from a bio! 🙂

    I change my twitter bio from time to time. I always hope it’ll represent me fully but in truth it only represents the part of me I want to have displayed.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks so much for your thoughts and feedback, Reeta – interesting!

  • http://www.leanonus.co/ Sonya

    Great post… I better go check mine now 🙂

  • Mariegilb

    Great advice.Now I have to check and see if my bio works:)

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Don’t be afraid to change it!

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  • David Weber

    This reminds me of the concept and practice of designing and delivering an elevator speech.  In one of the courses I teach, one of the topics is how to do that.  My students develop 30-sec. “product pitches” intended to encapsulate who they are and what they have to offer.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      It’s EXACTLY that, Professor Weber!

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