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How To Write a Spectacularly Bad Twitter Bio (Plus a Template for a Great One)

1. Be super vague and generic.

What's the point of putting something up it it's not really going to tell me anything about you? Your social media is your business card, so there's no reason to be coy.  The point of the bio is to help me figure out really quickly whether I want to follow you or not, so if you don't give me anything more than "I do what I want. Love cats!" you'll get put in my mental spam folder really quickly.

2. Tell me too much about you that doesn't matter to me.

People often get confused with Twitter bios, because they know that they're supposed to be casual, so they get really personal stuff because they don't want to sound too formal...but by doing this they end up putting up a lot of irrelevant stuff that's only interesting to them.

Your Twitter bio is part of your business face. Think about if someone came up to you at a business conference and said:

"Hi! I'm Jim, a proud daddy of my bunny-boo, golfing enthusiast, and microbrew lover. Go Raiders!" Even if you were super casual, you would still be confused because none of that matters to you in the context.

This doesn't mean it has to be super-formal -- you really need to include personality. But remember, it's your Twitter bio, not your eHarmony profile. Whatever you tell people needs to be in line with your business identity. For instance, I could have written "I like Southern Gothic literature" in my Twitter bio. That's something that is totally true about me, but it doesn't matter to you in my role on Twitter as a copywriter and editor, and it's also not a big part of my business personality. If I was going to include something more casual, I would say something like "Loves whiskey!" Also true, and more appropriate because it fits with my business personality.

The corollary to this is...

3. Be an emotional panhandler.

If you have a disease or a condition or something that is really bad in your life, then you genuinely have my sympathy. But unless you want that to be the primary facet of your identity, then you shouldn't highlight it in your Twitter bio. It comes across like you're trying to guilt people into following you and say nice things about you. And it also doesn't tell me something about you in a way that matters to me. Think about Jon Morrow . His Twitter bio doesn't say "I am a man who was born with spinal muscular atrophy. I am now a blogger who has overcome great challenges!" Not because that's not true, but because it's not the most important thing about him in this context.

4. Demand something up front.

This includes anything along the lines of "Please retweet!", "Please follow back!", or "Please share!" This comes across as pushy, like that one Mom who badgers everyone in the office into buying her daughter's Girl Scout cookies, or as naive, like you don't know the culture of Twitter. People come to Twitter to catch up with other people and events -- not to be bugged into sharing something.

If you want people to retweet your stuff, don't beg. Retweet theirs and make yours so damn good that they can't wait to share it.

5. Have typos.

It's 140 characters, for God's sake. If you can't manage to get that right, then you're either incredibly incompetent or really damn lazy, and either way, a primarily text-based medium is not for you.

So now that you know what not to do...here's the formula for a great Twitter bio:

1. Tell me the most important things about you in this context in one sentence or phrase.

In my case, I'm a writer and editor, so that's the first thing that I tell people.

2. Expand on this slightly and tell me a little more about it, or a little more about another relevant aspect of you.

The second most important aspect of me on Twitter is that I'm a digital nomad, so I say that next. Here's where you can get into the more personal bits if you want to, so I could say something like "Loves whiskey" -- but instead I chose to show my personality through the way I described myself.

So instead of writing "Writer and editor who loves wordplay! Digital nomad," I instead showed my personality and how into wordplay I am by saying "Word wrangler. Grammar janitor. Timecard apostate. Online writing obsessive." There are two reasons for doing this: it shows my personality without taking up extra space and it also acts as a very tiny portfolio. Showing that I can come up with a clever way to write my Twitter bio is so much more convincing than just telling people that I'm creative.

3. Include a call to action.

I'm new to this part, but Laura Husson is all over it. "The call to action in your bio is the essential ingredient to striking up connections of real value on Twitter," she says. "Without it you're just another face in a sea of noise. When you prompt a new follower into interacting with you, they take notice."

You can get all kinds of in-depth with this by getting her free training at http://laurahusson.com/

Feeling like you need to revise your Twitter bio? Or are you already all over this? Tell me below in the comments!

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