Evil Internet nerd. Travel lover. Extreme organizer. Professional pop culture junkie.
If you spend a lot of time on Twitter, you’ll quickly recognize these few clever words as someone’s Twitter bio. In this case, they don’t belong to an actual real person but are instead randomly chosen from the Twitter Bio Generator: an online tool that pokes fun at how we describe ourselves on the world’s most popular micro-blogging site.
Let’s face it, we tweeters spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how to craft the perfect tweet. And why not? In Lydia Dishman’s recent post, she shares how Twitter can help anyone land their dream job with these simple steps: Don’t be a pain in the ass, be creative and funny, tidy up that stream, and understand how companies recruit using social media.
However, few of us think much about the 160-character impression (the bio) gives new Twitter followers.
While quality tweets are important, those critical words that describe what we do can propel someone to click, to follow, or to click away. A couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton set a new biographic standard. Her impressive Twitter bio reads as follows:
Wife, mom, lawyer, women & advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US, Senator, SecState, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…
In these 159 characters, Clinton proudly showcases her past, present, and future. She shares a bit of personal and a bit of professional experience, and she tops it off with humor and a timely tease (TBD).
Actor Tom Hanks’ playful approach has helped push his follower count beyond six million.
I’m that actor in some of the movies you liked and some you didn’t. Sometimes I’m in pretty good shape, other times I’m not. Hey, you gotta live, you know?
His bio couldn’t be more on brand. As one of the world’s most beloved actors, he expresses honesty and humility.
Brands are also well known for bio creativity. Check out this quirky description:
My favorite thing to do in the world is to bring out the kid in everyone. Not in the sense of getting loads of people pregnant – but I enjoy making others happy.
Definitely a good fit for the edgy clothing company.
These are all great examples of Twitter bios done well. To avoid the other side of the coin, here are a few things not to do when crafting your 160 characters.
1. Don’t Use the Word Ninja.
It was a cute descriptor when Twitter launched, but six years later it’s now one of those buzzwords that’s overused and belongs in the social media gutter. In case you still can’t figure out why you shouldn’t use the word ninja, check out the actual meaning here. By all means, if you’re a member of a feudal Japanese society of mercenary agents, keep it in.
2. Don’t Forget to Link.
Assuming you’re professional with your tweets, and businesses you work with are okay with it, consider including their handles in your bio (this is especially important if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to promote your own company on your personal account). For example, I am a regular Fast Company contributor, so I include @fastcompany in my bio. Simple and effective brand building.
3. Don’t Leave Your Bio Blank.
Unless you’re the Dalai Lama, you’re not well known enough to bypass your bio altogether (and, incidentally, @DalaiLama does in fact include a welcome message for his followers). In other words, you might think it looks cool to be bio-less but in most cases you just look, ahem, lazy.
4. Don’t Depend on Disclaimers.
Noting that “Opinions are my own” isn’t always as clear as you’d like it to be. “It won’t protect you from getting fired for trashing your coworkers or company, but that’s not why people should put it there,” Denise Howell, Host of This Week in Law. “People should put it there to help readers distinguish between corporate and individual statements.” However, before you write anything, check with your company’s social media policy.
5. Don’t Use a Quote.
Unless it’s your own, quotes from someone else aren’t necessarily helping you build your brand. There is a lot more you can do with your 160 characters than simply regurgitate another person’s thoughts. After all, it is your bio, so write about you and what you think.
[Image: Flickr user Angelo González]