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Bio update @twitter

I’ve had “update Don Holloway on all social media” on my to-do list for months.  It’s been in the perpetual task list noise floor.  Too important to delete, not urgent enough to actually do.   I’ve realized that I needed to break that down into tasks that I can actually do.  <duh>


Twitter is an odd beast, but one worth paying attention to.  When I first encountered it, I saw it as a channel, more like plumbing.  It has a 160 character limit, which matches the SMS standard.  It has also become widely recognized as a news source.  It’s real time, unfilteredness, and ubiquity make it an excellent early source of information. 

Writing a twitter bio is a bit of a haiku challenge.  You only have 160 characters to tell your story.  From a personal marketing perspective, it is the ultimate elevator pitch. 

Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to make a mind maps, word clouds, or done something to document both how you want to be perceived and how you actually are being represented.  I can promise you that an unfocused message will become part of the noise.  And there is plenty of noise on twitter already.

@neilpatel wrote a great article on crafting your twitter bio. His checklist includes making it accurate by including your professional identify, exciting by including one word that is not boring, an accomplishment, and a hobby.  I tend to divide my identity into work, community, creative, family, and personal personas.  Whatever approach you use, the point is to create a genuine and focused portrait of yourself. 

There are a couple of components to your twitter bio.  Some of them may or may not be seen depending on the device, client, or logged in user that you’re accessing twitter from.  The twitter developer api page lists details about all of the fields, many of which are system fields.  Right now, we’re focusing on the user definable fields:

Name:  – Your name obviously, but can also hold a title, role, or anything really 
Screen name: – This is your @twitterhandle, I hope that you got a good one.
Location: – This is a field to provide a location
Description: Here is your 160 character placeholder
Time Zone:   What time zone are you in
URL:  You can list a URL
Profile pic:  It’s a 400 x 400 px image, anything is better than nothing,
Cover photo: 1500 x 500 px:  Relatively new, tell your story here
Link and text colors:  Yes, you can change these, and it does send a message 

Some of the system generated profile fields are worth noting.  Most of them are activity driven, but are part of the presence that you’re putting across.

Followers you know:  You are being judged by the company you keep
Joined Date:  Prominently displayed, my current mission is to remove it.
Photos and videos:  There is a display of these, if you haven’t uploaded pics, do.
Stats:  # of tweets, # following, #followers, #favorites, #lists

I went through some of the people that I follow and here are some profiles that caught my eye.

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Handle @MaryManners1 
Name Mary Manners, author
Description Award-winning author of more than 30 contemporary inspirational romances with Pelican Book Group.  I love coffee, long runs, and Smoky Mountain sunsets.
My comments I get what she’s about, extra style points for including “author” in the name. Her links and text are in an attractive color. No location listed which causes “Joined December 2011” to be emphasized.  I can’t figure out why twitter join date is shown for some and not for others.
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Handle @lisakentzell 
Name Lisa Kentzell
Description TWiT CEO, 49er Fan, Thrill Seeker and Michael’s Mom.
My comments Profile and Banner pics reinforce and expand upon her description.  Style points for brevity.  Her profile does not show “Joined XXX”, so I know that it can be done.  I don’t think the joined Twitter date is that useful for anyone other than twitter.

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Handle @tsehjhh
Name James H. Holloway
Description Technology Support Trainer – Father – Blogger – Husband
My comments His location is shown as Brussels, Belgium, a link to his photo site is included, as is the twitter joined date, smashing my hopes that having two user defined fields would make it go away.  His cover picture shows him with his children.  This paints a good picture of a tech guy that family is at the center of his life.  As I’m family, that works for me.  I happen to know that he’s got a lot more going on.

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Handle @ladygaga 
Name Lady Gaga
Description The lady herself is not just a chameleon in person, but a chameleon in music.
My comments Her profile picture is a wonderful one of her done 50’s black and white style.  You may recognize Tony Bennett in the background behind the shades.  Her background image is of her and Tony Bennett on the left with text on the right saying “Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Cheek to Cheek – The #1 Album available now”.   She has a tweeted pinned to the top where you can buy the record album. Style points for text colors and buttons matching the overall theme.  I suspect that she counts success in little monsters and sales, not in “style points” though.  And she sells.

Handle @billydelia 
Name Billy Delia
Description drums + other things in @grizfolk insta: billy_delia
My comments His profile picture is a picture of him playing drums.  Location is Los Angeles.  URL is for the band.  Extra style points for putting the band’s twitter handle and IG in your profile. I know for a fact that the band just played to a sold out crowd at Radio City Music Hall, has a song featured in the Mr. Peabody DVD now in stores.  There is currently no cover pic, so this is an easy fix. 

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Handle @beinglizbreen   
Name Liz Breen
Description Associate Producer @WordGirl_PBS.  MFA in Writing Candidate @VCFA.  @BU_Tweets Alum.  Opinions are that of my evil twin. #Ham #Binders
My comments Her profile picture shows her sense of humor.  Her background images shows WordGirl, the show that she produces.  Bonus points for conveying a both the personal and professional holistically. It would be really nit-picking to deduct points for not having Captain Huggy Face featured more prominently, but I am capable of being petty.  Might also benefit from some Gaga style show plugging text
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Handle @donholloway 
Name Don Holloway
Description Focused on mobile technology and mobile applications
My comments My profile picture is me in my office from a webcam from like 6 years ago.  The background image is fairly recent showing me and family on top of Arthur’s seat.  My location is listed as “Bucks County, Pennsylvania, along with a link to my website.  It shows “Joined May 2008” which I am now taking personally.  It isn’t direct enough about my current work, nor actually very interesting.  My old background (which is what I see) was of cell towers.  I had to log in as a different Twitter user to see what my profile looks like to others. Nothing says music, nothing says Gooner.

 Hopefully, you’ve gotten a sense of what all your twitter profile should be.  First, you need to decide what aspects of yourself that you want to include.  I lean towards a full view of both professional and personal.  Once you know what you want to say, you need to look at the elements (name, description, location, URL, and images to see if that story is being told.   

As always, I love the conversation, so please comment and share your thoughts and experience.  I will weed obvious spam, but am always willing to give someone a chance to share.


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