Saturday, February 28, 2009

Your Twitter bio. Your brand in 160 characters.

Believe it or not, a 160-character bio can say a lot about you and your personal brand. Not only that, but it can either encourage or discourage people to follow you in a split second, which may mean that someone you want to follow you won't. And second chances don't come easily.

There are thousands of aspects of Twitter that I could write about but it seems people are not aware of how much impact this little bio can have. So I thought I'd share a few "Do's" and "Don't's" based on what I've observed.

How to create a great bio:

  • Do take the time to draft your bio and not rush when filling out your profile. Suggest you write it in Word and use the word count (all characters) to make it fit. I believe it was T.S Eliot who said "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." It takes some time to write pithy. Be pithy.
  • Do share with people what you do and/or what you like. Let them know who you are. People want to follow those for whom they share an affinity or find interesting. And you want people to follow you for a reason, not just because you happen to be on Twitter.
  • Do be sure that you use the space. You can use all 160 characters although you don't have to. Keep in mind that if all you say is "I like turtles" then many people won't follow. Substance is always important, whether in the copy for your bio or tweets.
  • Do take the time to edit, ensuring there are no typos and that no words are cut off at the end. I've had trouble with the length measurement when I thought the copy fit originally but later found the last word was cut off. So please check the copy a day or so later just to give it a good review with fresh eyes.

And here are some things to watch out for:

  • Don't leave the bio space blank. People will often not follow the person who hasn't taken the time to write a few words about their own personal brand. Decisions about following get made very quickly and people often don't even go to your Twitter page to make their choice -- they just look at your photo and bio and either click "follow" or pass you by.
  • Don't use the space to put in another URL; comes across too promotional. There's a separate field for the URL of either your main web site or blog and people will click there if they want to get to know you better or read your material.
  • Don't use the space to write a "thank you for following me" message; that's what Replies or Direct Messages (DMs) are for.
  • Don't try to sell within your bio. One basic rule of direct marketing is to sell the next step. The next step here is the initial step and there's a lot of relationship building that has to happen before you can start promoting your wares. It's way too early to sell in your bio. It's a turn off and all you're trying to achieve in your bio is establish a follower connection by quickly communicating your brand.

If you have any questions about how best to create your brand on the social networks, please add a comment here on this blog or tweet me at

Your Twitter bio. Your brand in 160 characters.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Brian Siegel said...

Great perspectives, info, and insights! Connecting your message and brand to consumers better by providing a 'bio' is a great idea. I utilize a 'bio' during presentations, meetings, and also while seeking opportunities. It's a different way to connect creatively.

I also urge people and organizations to have a 'Code of Values' associated with their company or personal 'Brand'!

Great connecting with you, and look forward to learning from more of your innovative insights! Let me know how I can be of value & service to your initiatives!

Brian Siegel

"We're as great as we help others become!"

Joseph Rueter said...

Solid ideas about the bio. I've been thinking about that link section lately. Why don't we have a link for all your other links there?

Meeting people on twitter often lacks context. We can add context with that bio section but we can with a strategic link too.

I created a service called in part for this reason. Let's start to make better introductions of ourselves online in the space exploding with interaction we call social media.

Maybe can help bring your context to people interested in meeting you. Maybe not. Cheers.

EV said...

Sally I don't really understand Twitter. What is a Twitter bio?

Michael Pokocky said...

Great post about how to use the 160 characters efficiently and to get across the authentic you.
[@ joseph Rueter]He commented on how to get more of our links into our bio which is impossible right now in the space provide because of the way this post describes how best to use it.
So I point you to where on one page you can create a dynamic web presence with mullti-media, all your links you would ever want to give out, and its free.