Whether you’re a casual Twitter user, a digital networking powerhouse, or a small business looking to use Twitter for marketing, chances are you’re not opposed to gaining more Twitter followers. However aggressive (or not) your desire for followers may be, I think we can all agree that in general, we hope that those we choose to follow will at least consider returning the favor.
When I personally hit that “follow” button, it’s for one or more of a few reasons. Either I a) like what you’ve got to say, b) believe we have something or someone in common that warrants connecting, or c) would just plain like to get to know you better.
So yes, when I push that button, that’s me saying that ”I think it’d be worthwhile for us to be on each other’s radars”… and the implied second part of that is “and I hope you feel the same way.” In order to make sure the people on the receiving end of your request find you worthy, let’s audit the different areas of your profile and make sure it’s up to par.
How to Determine If Your Twitter Profile is Follow-Worthy
When someone follows me on Twitter, I first look at the email notification for any immediate red flags. (Do they follow 900 people and only have 50 followers? Is their picture an egg? Do they have zero status updates?)
If they pass those tests and move on to Part 2 of Consideration, I’ll click through and open up their profile to see what they’re all about.
Now, I’m not claiming you need to have a customized background, or even a particularly witty bio. But there are some basics you need to have in place to be taken seriously. Like:
1. Your Username
Does it contain the word “guru”, “SEOninja”, or “foxxxxxxy”? How about eighty-seven random numbers, or the phrase “4U”? God forbid, does it have more than one underscore? (Although truth be told, I can’t stand underscores at all – but I think that’s a personal quirk of mine. It’s also often unavoidable, given the popularity of Twitter-squatters on excellent username real estate.)
2. Your Photo
Pretty much the only thing that matters here (other than just having one – no eggs, please!) – is it a REAL picture? And yes, I’m sorry, but it’s points off if your profile pic is not actually you, but a cartoon avatar or a picture of something like scenery. Look, that Mexican beach is beautiful and all, but it doesn’t help me decide if I want to follow you on Twitter. (Points gained back if it’s a cat, or cat-related*.)
OK NOT OK
If you’re worried about anonymity, a partial shot or one that’s not up close and personal is fine. But it just seems so much more legitimate when there’s the promise of an actual human behind the account, even if all I can see is your left eye and a nostril.
(Obviously this is different for brands, but it should still be a professional, high-res logo consistent with your branding that insinuates that you are who you say you are.)
3. Your Location
This doesn’t necessarily make-or-break, but it can certainly help (or hurt). If you’re in an area of interest to me personally, like DC (where I live), I’m more likely to follow you – even if other areas of your profile are lacking. Likewise, if you don’t put a location on there (or put something vague like “USA” or something stupid like “Right behind you!” – points off. Leave the cheese for Facebook; that don’t play on Twitter.
4. Your Account Privacy
Yes, there are a FEW exceptions to this rule… but in general, if you have a protected account, you’re Doing Twitter Wrong. And unless I know you in real life, there’s pretty much zero chance I’m going to “request” to follow you.
5, And This Is the Big One: YOUR BIO
This is the cornerstone of your identity on Twitter. Painting “the picture of you” in those precious 140 characters is difficult, but goshdarnit, spend a half hour on it. I can only glean so much information from that twinkle in your avatar’s eye.
Here are the guidelines that are official in my brain because I just made them up:
- None of this one sentence stuff. Unless it’s so funny it makes me snarf my coffee, you need to open up a little bit. Tell me your hopes, your dreams… or at least what gets your juices flowing.
- Don’t go on and on about what an expert you are or how many books you’ve written or how many puppies you’ve saved. Leave the smarm and the horn-tooting for LinkedIn, buddy.
- A joke or two never hurts. Unless it’s a dumb one. But hey, brownie points for trying.
- Please do not construct your entire bio out of as many generic hashtags as you can cram in there, like “#SEO #marketing #internet #business #blogging #socialmedia #tech #noonecares. Not only is this difficult to decipher, it’s entirely uncreative. USE YOUR WORDS.
- Don’t write it in third person, unless you’re famous. And I don’t mean internet-famous, I mean people-want-you-to-kiss-their-babies famous. (And even they look douchey doing it, but they’re allowed.)
- It’s nice to give me some idea about what to expect from your tweets. What kind of subjects will you talk about? Will your focus be your industry, glitter unicorns, or some combination of the two?
- Do not, under any circumstances, have any rendition of “FOLLOW BACK” in your bio. This screams of a) desperation and b) Twitter-slut-ism. If you’ll follow anyone or anything, you’ve already told me our relationship won’t be special. I thought we were trying to build something real, and here you’re just using me for stats!
- Saying you are “passionate” without specifying an actual passion. About what? Breathing? Proving Nessie’s existence? Dubstep? Help a girl out.
- Listing obvious things that don’t differentiate you from anyone else on the planet. You love to laugh! Or perhaps you enjoy eating food. Or wait – I bet you’re a big fan of sunshine! Well, whoop-de-freaking-doo. Tell me something unique, or stop wasting my precious brain space. (Kisses.)
If you embrace these recommendations and avoid the pitfalls mentioned, I think it’s safe to say you’ll end up with a Twitter bio you can be proud of. Or at least, one that won’t make you look like a big, fat, porny spambot. You’re welcome!
*Look, I don’t make up the Internet rules; this is just a fact of e-life. Deal with it, cat haters.
About the Author: Rachael King graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in Spring 2006. She is currently a Social Media Account Executive at iostudio, a full-service ad agency with offices in DC and Nashville. Currently Rachael is traveling the country, speaking to and teaching the 54 states and territories of the National Guard how to use social media as a marketing/recruitment tool. She is also President of Social Media Club – DC, Events Manager for 20SB, and a co-organizer of the annual meet up Bloggers in Sin City. Follow Rachael on Twitter.