Welcome to my Twitter How-To series! This is a series of blog posts that I originally put together for my authors as a publicist to help them with their platforms, and now, I’m sharing them with you.
Twitter seems to be one of those platforms that you either love it, hate it, or dump your links and otherwise avoid it. Some say Twitter is constantly on fire. Honestly, yes, kind of. But, if you’re willing to look, you really can find some of your people there.
First, let’s talk about demographics. About 75% of Twitter users are under 50 years old, with about 24% between 18-24, 28% between 25-34, and 22% between 35-49.
What is the point of this? Twitter users are by and large usually millennials or younger Gen X. The great thing about millennials is that we do like books and we’re constantly on social media. The bad thing? We’re constantly on social media. Millennials are quick to judge accounts that they deem “fake,” “attention-seeking,” or outdated.
So then, why bother?
Twitter users tend to be very active and engaged. They build Twitter friendships. Unlike Facebook, where you’re unlikely to become friends with someone unless you already know them, on Twitter, anyone can follow and interact with anyone. Twitter is where you will find new fans and friends.
If you’re looking to grow your audience, Twitter is a great place to do it–if you do it right. But a lot of people don’t. For this series on Twitter do’s and don’ts, we’ll start at the beginning: your bio.
Twitter “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Creating Your Bio
Your bio is the short blurb that tells potential followers who you are. You don’t have much space to convince others you’re worth connecting with. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t make good use of their bio.
Do: Use a Professional Headshot
No pictures of your dog or a random tree. We want a quality (not a selfie) picture of you that looks friendly and professional.
Do: Have a Header Image
Even if it’s just a nature picture, make sure you have a header image. It looks way more appealing and professional. For those with books, it’s even better if you can create a classy graphic including your book cover(s).
Do: Check Out Bios of People Similar to You
What do other authors’ bios look like? What are they saying? What do their follower counts look like? Which ones make you want to follow?
Do: Tell People Who You Are
Let people know in your bio that you’re an author. Let them know what sort of person you are, what sort of things you’ll be tweeting about.
Don’t: Be Weird or Post Quotes
Your bio is about you. A quote doesn’t tell me who you are.
Also, this is not the place to call yourself “a turkey trapped in a human’s body” or “a connoisseur of smelly socks.” That’s weird. Most people don’t want to follow weirdos.
Do: Be Interesting
I said don’t be weird, but you can be quirky. That little personal touch of calling yourself “corgi mom” or “teacup collector” is endearing. Give a little sense of your personality so people feel like they know you.
Don’t: Make Your Bio All Promo
Absolutely mention your books in your bio. But also say other things. Screaming “BUY MY BOOKS NOW” is not how we make friends.
Do: Stay on Brand
If you’re a sci-fi author, a bio all about romance and tea might be confusing. If you’re a romance author, “Star Wars and Star Trek forever” might be a weird bio. It’s fine if you’re a sci-fi author who loves romance or a romance lover who is a Trekkie, but pick out parts of yourself that are on brand to highlight in your bio.
Twitter Bio Examples
These are all samples from real people on Twitter. For the sake of those whose bios I don’t highly recommend, instead of showing pictures, I’ve captured the text only.
Twitter Bios That Need Work:
“A Dream-Inspired Writer preparing to publish my debut novel”
That’s nice. A novel about what? What does “dream-inspired” mean? Too vague.
[not real name]: “Nothing without God; He is my strength, standing on His Word; my heart rests on God alone – Anamchara – Jesus”
90% sure this person is a writer, but I would never know that from this quote. This tells me nothing about her except that she is a Christian. Christians have a lot of different interests. What does she post about?
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? I’m not bothering to cross out our pal Mr. Tee’s handle, because he knows exactly the chaos he’s causing.
“‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?’ Rabbi Hillel – For me this sums it all it!”
This vague inspirational quote tells us nothing about who you are. Also, that typo in the last phrase is indeed there in the original.
“sci-fi, mobile, ai, aliens…”
What about sci-fi? What is mobile supposed to mean? I think this is a sci-fi writer, but could just as easily be a conspiracy theorist or something. And yes, that ellipsis is in the original.
[entire phrase instead of name]: “Innovation, Idea & Ivory all begin with “i”! Find what begins with YOU! Living life 4 pages at a time. Writer & Entrepreneur.”
I’m sure these are this person’s taglines to whatever they wrote, but they make zero sense to me. Also, I’m pretty sure their “name” is not this person’s name. This is not Tumblr. We use our names here.
Sarah*: “I dabble in writing. check da link below” [highly questionable shortlink]
Ah, yes, thank you, Sarah, I shall click “da” nondescript link below to read whatever it is that you write, hopefully something that will not make me want to bleach my eyeballs and pray for 24 hours. *not real name
Good Twitter Bios:
I’m not saying I have the best Twitter bio ever, but I thought I’d let you see what mine looks like. I change it every once in a while. (In fact, it’s changed since I took this pic.) But it clearly states what I do, has a little blurb about my books, and has a slight bit of humor in that my “location” is editing, reading, or writing.
Amanda is not a writer, but her bio is succinct. It tells who she is (social worker), what she’s interested in (child welfare advocacy), and what she believes in (serving Christ).
This bio is cute. Jordan seems like someone you want to be friends with. However, from “Let’s bleed our souls onto the keyboard,” we know she’s a writer. We also see her books (in the hashtags) with an Amazon link, and you will also see her covers in her header image. Endearing and informative.
We know who Gina is and what she does. We also know that she wants to talk about books. Her bio makes us think she is a pleasant person, because she loves her team.
We know Hannah is a writer, reader, and blogger. We get a little insight into her personal life from “Lyme fighter.” And then we smile at her last two lines. We’re hooked now.
I wanted to compare this to “Sarah”’s above. Instead of telling us to click “da” mysterious link, Becca tells us exactly what she writes (middle grade, Christian content) and tells us what we’ll find at her website (a free short story), with a clear link to her site that doesn’t look like a potential virus.
I wanted to share Tim’s because he seemingly breaks all the rules, but does it well. Tim is a humor writer, and true to style, his Twitter bio is a joke about Twitter bios. However, one sentence, “And humor writing,” makes us aware that not only is this a joke, but if we follow, we will find more jokes. You can break the rules once you know the rules, and Tim displays that perfectly.
And there you have it! My first installment in my short guide to Twitter Etiquette and Strategy. I’m not a Twitter expert, but I did study social media strategy in college, and I currently work as a publicity manager, so these are just my best recommendations. Tune in two weeks from now for the do’s and don’ts of following!