Twitter-Who? 10 Steps to Creating a Better Professional Online Profile

Heather Yaxley

By Heather Yaxley, Contributor, PR Coversations, Green Banana

How long did you spend considering the 160-characters you chose for your Twitter profile? When was the last time you reviewed—or more important, researched—what this “Twitter-who” statement says about you?

The bio statement is a way of introducing yourself to potential followers and fans—whether they decide to engage is likely to depend on the few seconds spent reading what you’re about. Here are 10 suggestions to consider to help you improve the appeal—and impact—of your Twitter bio:

1. Pick a clear objective. The starting point, as with any other form of professional communication, is the objective. What are you trying to achieve by establishing a Twitter presence? If you are not clear about why you are using Twitter—then take a few minutes to consider what types of comments you write, who you engage with and so on. A quick content analysis should help you review whether the account has a clear purpose. If not, then it’s time to clearly identify what you would like this to be. Twitter (and other social media profiles) represent your shop window and as such, need to present clearly the wares you are offering. For example, are you a provider and sharer of information on particular topics? Do you engage with others around certain interest areas? If so, focus on that as a key objective you’d like to communicate.

2. Practice consistent branding. Ensure that the visual presentation and other aspects of your Twitter homepage reflect the same message. This should include the photograph you have chosen, the colour and other graphical design of the page, as well as the name that you use. I know of someone aiming to break into a professional field who uses a term that you would have to explain to your mother (but would be embarrassed to do so). This might be funny in some circumstances, but it won’t impress those potential employers, customers or followers. Likewise, indicating that you are JoeBloggs96 hardly differentiates you from the crowd. Much better is to create a brand name for yourself online, which is easy to remember and conveys a message.

3. Be a stickler with keywords. If you work in PR or marketing, your personal account should reflect a professional first impression. It should go without saying that this means avoiding typos, but also be careful about the use of slang or text-speak, if its use wouldn’t be appropriate to your chosen online community. The focus here should be on explaining who you are as a potential contact, employee or consultant. Identify the keywords that relate to your professional persona and incorporate these into your bio. Think about your own unique perspective and ensure you reflect this rather than a bland description.

4. Demonstrate personality. Remember that the point is to make others want to know more about you and engage with what you have to say. It is important to demonstrate your personality and convey clearly what someone could expect if they connect with your Twitter feed. Think about a possible tagline that you could use to summarise yourself in an amusing and human way. You may wish to be mysterious with a line that teases—but be careful as this could serve as a barrier to entry rather than an intriguingly open door.

5. Recognize that comedy is subjective. Attempts at humour need to be considered in relation to cultural context. Irony is a particular trapdoor as some may take your tongue-in-cheek reference to being a world-renowned guru as arrogance. Adding in “self-proclaimed,” for example, would soften the statement. Likewise, poking fun of others could cause offense. That’s not to say that you should be dull, but be aware of any sensitivities of people you may wish to attract.

6. Don’t get too personal. Similarly, be aware of the impression that you convey by including too much personal information in your bio. Details of your family or personal interests should not dominate the professional impression you wish to convey. Think about the primary message of your bio—and write this first using everyday language. Any love you wish to express for kids, dogs, spouses, places, brands or weirdly wonderful hobbies can be included as a brief mention at the end of your bio.

7. Be upfront with promotion. If you are using Twitter as a shop window for your talents or a business, then be clear about this. If the account is going to be used for personal promotion, with little engagement, then be upfront. Blatant plugs aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but if the account offers services that may appeal, then make this clear. For example, someone looking for a job would appreciate knowing that your feed promotes potential opportunities in the field. Or, if you are an expert in a particular field, then state outright that you will talk about your business area. Writing this in engaging language rather than random keywords separated by dashes or hyphens will be more likely to show your communication abilities.

8. Address work connections directly. Many organizations require employees to clearly state that their opinions are their own within their bio. This may affect your decision to indicate any connection with your work—but remember that it is not difficult to track down what you do online (your tweets may give clues, in any case). Either way, be clear about any existing policies and also consider the interface between any work and personal accounts. For example, state clearly that you write about work in another account, if that is the case, so that a potential follower knows which feed is most appropriate for them to use.

9. Link to your other accounts. Be sure to connect your Twitter account to your wider online presence as different people prefer to engage and connect in different media. This also enables you to build more rounded relationships with contacts as other places may be more suitable for holding certain conversations, developing discussions or presenting opinions.

10. Evaluate regularly. Your bio will be responsible for attracting followers, so if you realize you’re not drawing the intended types of people, then re-evaluate how you are presenting yourself. Frequently freshen up your profile, as it shows existing and new followers that you are committed to maintaining your online brand. Similarly, regularly review your objectives and strategy for using Twitter to ensure that you are using this valuable tool wisely. Taking an active approach to managing this vital online presence demonstrates that this really is your professional place of business.


Heather Yaxley is a British hybrid academic-educator-consultant-practitioner—a 21st century portfolio worker with a range of commitments across public relations and professional development. A published author, she is earning a PhD in career strategies in public relations. She is active online, writing at www.prconversations and Heather can also be found on Twitter (@greenbanana and via @prconversations), in LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook.  


Published: November 15, 2011 By: commproadmin