Someone asked me recently to go back to some easy basics about Twitter. I thought that would be too easy until someone on Facebook asked me what an avatar was, or how to choose a file for their bio. Because I don’t want this to be too easy, I’ll throw in advanced tips to help you optimize your bio.
WHAT’S A BIO, ANYWAY?
No doubt you’ve opened enough accounts at this point in your life to know what a bio is. A Twitter bio is no different, and completely different. Let’s deconstruct.
PROFILE PAGE (to get here, click on the gear button on the top right, then on Settings, then on Profile):
— Photo (aka, avatar): When you first set up your account, Twitter will suggest you upload a photo. If you’re an individual, not a business, I always suggest you choose a photo of yourself. It doesn’t have to be professional or fancy — in fact, I suggest something that looks most like how you typically appear in daily life. I’d avoid wedding or holiday shots — these often have other people in them and make it harder to see you clearly.
Tip: Some people feel strongly that you upload a picture and then never, ever change it. I disagree. As long as it’s not too much of a departure, there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit.
— Header: Last year, Twitter added a header option, which allows us to upload a file, i.e., a book cover or a picture of some sort. You don’t have to add a header, but it is a nice way to get in a bit of passive promotion. Mine looks like this >>>>>>>
— Name: Seems obvious, but use you REAL name where it says ‘name.’ Even if your Twitter profile doesn’t match your real name, that’s okay.
My Twitter handle for my author account is @RachelintheOC, because Rachel Thompson was already taken, so I created something catchy and easy to remember. Now that I’ve moved from the OC (Orange County, CA) after seventeen years there, it no longer applies, but oh well. It’s how people know me (you can change your handle and you won’t lose your followers, though I don’t recommend doing that unless you’ve just started on Twitter).
Exception: If for some reason you want to keep your identity private, I suggest using a pen name and a related picture (i.e., for an erotica writer).
Tip: Make your handle easy to remember. A combo of letters and numbers may have clever meaning to you, but it means jack to your followers and they’ll never remember it. Make yourself easy to find. Don’t be your own worst enemy here .
— Location: Some people are very specific about where they live, others like myself, aren’t (stalkers, etc. Long, boring story.). So, I realized I could use the space to add more detail to my bio (‘#MondayBlogs every Monday’ is my location now). Regardless, there’s no law that says you have to put your location.
Tip: It’s a good idea if you’re a local business and hope to attract more business.
— Website: Obvious.
Tip: Purchase your domain, i.e., I own RachelintheOC.com. If I didn’t, it would be much longer, with wordpress at the end (or blogger or Tumblr or Weebly, etc). You are limited by space in every aspect of Twitter (it’s not called ‘micro-blogging’ for nothing) so shorten it up.
— Bio: You have 160 characters (that includes spaces). Clever is good here. Show, don’t tell. If you’re funny, say something funny. Don’t say, ‘I’m funny.’ #snore
Use hashtags, no more than three. This makes you searchable. For example, #author, #bookblogger, #socialmedia, whatever.
Tip: Twitter now allows you to add a second hyperlinked website in the bio section itself. Shorten it using bitly.com, which allows you to make the most of the limited space, customize it (i.e., with your book title), and track clicks (i.e., clicks from Twitter to Amazon — this is a great trick since Amazon gives us NO information about sales).
Once you’re done here, click on DESIGN.
WHAT IS DESIGN?
DESIGN is all about your background. Your options here are fairly straightforward: Pick a pre-made theme, click on Themeleon (thousands of patterns and choices), or customize your own background.
Tip: Just as in your header, you can customize your background. I recommend keeping the header and background similar (though not identical). Mine looks like this:
Every opportunity you have to provide information to people, do it.
Many of us look at your header, bio, avatar and background before we follow you. Some of us even check out your tweets. I feel like a broken record, but if all you do is spam links to your own work, you will not sell books or gain followers.
Providing this type of info looks professional and allows you the advantage of selling without, well, selling. Got questions? Ask below!
I’m thrilled to announce that my latest release, Broken Pieces, made the finals of the eFestival of Words Awards. If you’d like to vote, here’s the link (note: you do have to create an account with an email and password only, then click on Awards Hall for Nonfiction). Thank you!
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.