If you're using Twitter to network for your career or business, it's important to ensure your own social profile stands out and appeals to your target audience.
That doesn't just mean taking a closer look at what your bio and avatar say about you. It's also about social media optimisation, i.e. taking steps to make sure you're easily found by potential clients, associates or helpful contacts via the micro-blogging site.
There are of course lots of examples of where people go completely wrong and examples of where people get it right. I'll try to mix things up a little and offer you the following 'dos and don'ts' on how to make the most of your own Twitter profile...
Do include a bio
Research suggests that people who have a written bio are eight times more likely to attract followers than people who don't. Why? Because the web is all about building trust. If you want people to follow you, you need to have a Twitter profile that looks trustworthy. Not including a bio will raise people's suspicions as they don't know who or what you are. Spam accounts tend to have no bios, so that plays another major factor in distrust. Bottom line? Write a bio!
When writing your bio, try to keep things short, sweet and to the point. Pipes ( | ) are a good tool for separating keywords and will keep your profile looking clean, slick and professional. Too much waffle could potentially put people off as they go through reams and reams of Twitter profiles. You want your bio to capture people's attention, not send them running for the hills.
Do write an appealing bio
Your bio is the perfect opportunity to describe yourself and what you're about. It's also the most important aspect of your profile, so spend some time getting it right. People can make a lot of judgment on those 160 characters, so use your bio wisely. Avoid using words like 'guru', 'strategist' and 'expert' – it will only make you look egotistical and self-important. And avoid cliches like 'My opinions are my own'. Try instead to be original and come up with something that doesn't immediately put people off.
Show the human side and add your personality wherever you can. Include your interests and field of work. Just make sure you stand out and give a great first impression. Need a good example? I love @DavidCousens' Twitter profile. It's short and sweet, engaging with a touch of humour, allowing his warm personality to shine through.
Don't forget social media optimisation
Your bio isn't just a chance to tell the world about yourself. It's an opportunity to optimise your Twitter profile and attract people looking for people or brands just like you. So make sure you place some keywords in your bio that describe what you do. Just don't go overboard and only write keywords – it will just make your bio look like spam and less personal.
A great tip is to add your most important keyword at the very beginning of your bio. Furthermore, when initially setting up your Twitter account, it does no harm to add keywords to your Twitter name. And if you want to include some local optimisation, don't forget to add your location as well.
Do use a head shot rather than a logo
Social media is just people, all talking to one another online. People don't want to talk to brands and logos. They want to talk to real people. If at all possible, add a photo of yourself for your avatar rather than your logo and make sure it's friendly and appealing. Head shots of people looking too serious or moody tend to be off-putting, in my personal opinion. I tend to lean towards people who look happy and fun rather than corporate and boring.
Don't be too sexy in your avatar photo
An avatar that has a photo of you looking too... well... 'sexy'... is not going to do you any favours, trust me. For one, it will make your Twitter account look like spam and encourage distrust amongst potential followers. And two, it won't present a very professional image of yourself.
Do use your real name
Again, successful social media profiles gain immediate trust. To build trust, it's wise to use your real name. Like I've said before, people don't want to follow brands and companies on Twitter – they want to follow real people. Even @BTCare, BT's own customer care Twitter account, mentions the names of the people that manage its Twitter account in its bio. Make sure you build trust by adding your real name too. If you can't do this in the 'name' section, make sure you add something to your bio, following BT's example.
Don't forget to add your web link
When creating your profile, Twitter gives you the chance to share one main web link. Make sure you make the most of this but don't forget you can add additional links to your bio if you want to. This could be a great chance to direct people to another Twitter account, your Facebook page or a separate blog. Just don't forget to use a URL shortening tool like TinyURL.com.
Main Image: GongTo / Shutterstock.com