In case you haven’t heard, the Twitter bio is now something of apostmodern literary art. Haiku-like in form and proclamatory in function, those scant 160 characters broadcast our best and briefest selves like millions of tiny billboards along the internet highway.
And as with any art, there are some basic tips for perfecting it. For starters, a Twitter bio should give followers an idea of what you might tweet about. It should answer the question, “What is this person an expert in?” And when possible, it should provide links to other sources of information about who you are, what you do, and why people should follow you.
To help demonstrate these principles, seven Pivoteers are here (in Twitter spirit) to illustrate seven techniques for perfecting (or ignoring) the fine art of the Twitter bio. Which of these techniques is most like yours?
1. The Functioning Pop Culture Critic
With more than 32,000 tweets, Ashley is a shiny, minor star in the Twitter galaxy. Ashley gets to the point with her bio: You know she’ll be tweeting about her writing projects and what she’s reading, with a little bit of Miley-esque critics-be-damned irreverence. Need more reasons to follow her? Easy. There’s her personal website right there.
The Takeaway: Clearly outline your roles.
2. The Multifarious Talent
Since Twitter is fertile ground for networking, a bio like Christopher’s makes it easy for fellow writers, photographers, or other-ers to identify and connect with him. His roles and talents are many, so you’re not exactly sure what to expect from his Twitter on a daily basis, but he owns up to that with a clever “Etc’er.” Points for the Tumblr link, except that it doesn’t work. And where’s the background image? Christopher should take this opportunity to showcase one of his visual arts.
The Takeaway: Showcase your work in more ways than one.
3. The Everyman 2.0
Don’t let the fancy first name fool you—Union puts his Banana Republic chinos on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. Here, Union crafts a series of images that (1) are interesting and relatable, (2) convey his interests and personality, and (3) share a keen sense of self-deprecating humor. He also avoids the one-dimensional, descriptive-as-gravel details that plague many other bios (e.g., “Coffee drinker. Inspiration junkie. Difference maker. Frequent breath-taker,” etc.)
The Takeaway: Share your personality through image-rich language.
4. The Hermetic Lone Ranger
Here’s an example of a very accomplished individual who does not want you to know about it. To promote cross-referencing amongst potential followers and to show his support of the organizations he is active in, Joshua should link to the @PivotMarketing and @AIGAIndy accounts. And as an Art Director, he should also link to his work somewhere. C’mon, Joshua. What are you doing with your time?
The Takeaway: Build your identity by linking to other accounts.
5. The Masked Interpersonal Insurrectionist
What this bio tells us is that Ryan is not liable for anything you may encounter as a follower of his Twitter. Anything you read here can and will be used against you. A solid “No, thank you” to the conventions of personal introductions and over-sharing, this Twitter bio does not need your Twittership. Now go away.
The Takeaway: Include a link to your work, because even Ryan does.
6. The Time Machine
While seemingly practical and thorough, Jenn’s bio has a shocking secret: It hasn’t been updated in a long time, and some of the details are no longer true (Jenn doesn’t tweet for @GivingSum)! However, this bio does a great job of using hashtags to outline her interests so that potential followers who search for them will find her easily. She also uses them frugally, sparing us the visual chaos of #toomanyhashtags.
The Takeaway: Use hashtags, and update regularly.
7. The Well-Rounded Professional
Melissa wins today’s prize for Most Complete Twitter Bio. She outlines her roles, cross-links to other accounts she supports, provides a link to her work, and even adds some personality and humor to it all. As a designer, she should also put some thought into the background image, but since all of our designers seem to forgo this visual real estate, I have to assume that blank backgrounds are the new black.
The Takeaway: Be more like Melissa.