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Last time we talked about how social media can help you with your career and what could be done to open the door for new opportunities. Today I’d like to share more about how you can go about building your Twitter profile in order to make sure you could become a known thought-leader in your particular niche or field.

This matter is not rocket science, so if you feel that one particular part isn’t relevant for you, feel free to skip it and read on. If you have any other feedback, feel invited to share it below in the comments.

Planning the plan

First things first. Think about what you want to achieve and why you want that. Are you interested in social media? Is that an enjoyable pastime for you? If not, you’ll need to make sure that you use Twitter only as a professional tool. If you like this kind of activity and exchange of thoughts with other people, it might be easier but make sure you don’t mix it up with your personal life too much if you’re striving for a professional profile.

On the other hand, authenticity is key to building a community. Check out this article “How to Be Real and Authentic in Public” for more info from Silvia Spiva. You’ll need to manage a balance between both worlds.

Old forsaken profiles

Twitter isn’t exactly a new social media platform. Even if you never got around using it, there’s a good chance that many of you created an account years ago just to drop those few first tweets, didn’t enjoy the ride and then abandoned it all together.

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If that’s the case for you, it’s a good idea to make use of these old profiles. They hold a “joined in” date stamp in your profile and for many people it means that if you’ve been around for many years, you have something better to share. People are more inclined to follow seniors rather than people who just joined recently.

So get back to your old profile, use the password recovery if you forget your access details, replace that random profile picture with a photo of yourself, change the user handle to your actual name, add a profile banner picture that’s suitable and most importantly, change your bio.

What should be in a Twitter bio?

We did a Twitter poll on this part of your Twitter profile a little while ago and what people want to read in your bio is primarily information about you professionally, a little glimpse into your hobbies and if possible wrap it up in a refreshingly witty way.

Information about your family and reproduction achievements lost the poll. Of course you can tell the world that you’re a proud dad, mom to 3, or that you’re a wife/daughter/mother/sister/something but if you’re using Twitter to build your professional brand, people don’t care about that. For accounts that you plan to run for a professional use, I also recommend you to leave out political and religious aspects.

You should also refrain from referring to yourself as “bacon loving social media guru”, “marketing ninja” or something along those lines. That’s outdated and people will probably think that you’re a bot. #SorryNotSorry.

Twitter Bio examples

Here’s an example of how the bio of your Twitter profile could look like, just in case you have no idea about how to start. Don’t forget that you have only about 160 characters on Twitter to introduce yourself to everyone and get them interested in what you do enough to click that follow button.

Software Engineer at @CompanyYouLove – Solving problems in style is my passion – Want to talk about #DevOps or #Movies? I’m your man.

Another could be…

QA gal with @AwesomeStartup / I break your app so you can fix it before the users break it / Might also tweet about gaming stuff <3

Use these or change them as needed. A popular structure is to introduce snippets about you with some kind of separator in between. You can use hashtags in your bio but it has no advantages beyond the pop culture aspect of using hashtags. If someone is searching for “Project Manager” they will find you just as good as if you used hashtags. You can test out what works for you but make sure that people who search for “someone like you” can find you relatively easily even if they only use the search function of Twitter and not a sophisticated third party analytics tool to spot the best influencers for your field.

Please remember also that the bio does not have to stay this way forever. The world changes, trends come and go. You as well, might not have the same stance on everything forever due to the effect of the flexible opinions. If you don’t like your bio anymore, feel free to update it. No problem with that at all.

Your user handle

This one is a little difficult. There are good reasons to use your real name as well in your @userhandle but it might already be in use or too long for people to type in. I got @ChristopherIsak and I guess @ChrisIsak would have done just as well or even better. However, by now I’d rather not change this anymore to avoid old links leading to an invalid destination and old tweet conversations getting broken up.

Some people prefer to have handles that don’t relate to their actual names. If you’re doing this as part of your personal brand management, that can also work out. While something like @TheDesigner could work out well, I wouldn’t guarantee you the success of @XxPokemonGurl1999xX. No offense, Pokemon Gurl, this handle was merely made up just then. 😉

That username that’s not the handle

How’s that other kind of username called again? Well, we are talking about the display name here which is indicated mostly on top of your tweet or profile. It could relate to your @userhandle or not. It does not need to be the same. Personally, I’d be much more inclined to follow a user with a full name being displayed. John Smith could build a better brand and following than just John. Build your name in the branch and extend your reach and being the go-to-guy or go-to-gal for the subject that you are the expert for.

Making changes to your Twitter profile

Your Twitter profile is pretty open to changes. You can change your @userhandle, display name, user photo and profile banner all the time and whenever you like. Just a few things here to be informed about in order to avoid issues later on. While you can change your pictures and display name a hundred times each day without an issue, you should be more careful about changing your @userhandle. This is how people mention you and this is also how they linked you in any written articles. If you change that, your profile URL address will also change. Don’t change this one often.

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Also be careful about full re-branding runs. If the people who already follow you, cannot recognize that this newly tweeted message in their timeline comes from the users they know, they might instantly unfollow you out of sheer confusion. If John Smith (@ThatJohnSmith) suddenly replaces his photo with a brand logo and is now known as IT Geek / @ITyoulove, that might happen.

Tweets

Oops! We forgot something. Of course, we need to talk about what you should tweet. This article doesn’t have a focus on your content strategy and how your tweets should look like but I’d recommend you to share a fair balance of links to articles, links to news, personal updates about yourself and other curious matters. A selfie here and there helps the carry your authenticity but don’t turn the channel into a vanity thrill. Find out what your followers like and give them more of that. If you’re unsure, ask them or check the analytics.

Yet, don’t be too number-driven. Find a good balance for everything. Analytics and counting all the incoming likes and retweets gives you a good feeling but you shouldn’t focus on that aspect too much. Do your thing and don’t get caught in building a strategy around posting quote images and funny cat photos (only allowed on #Caturday). 😉

Who to follow?

I can give you some pointers on finding interesting people to follow for a kickstart, but I won’t tell you how many people you should follow. You can find that out yourself as you go along. I just suggest you not to follow too many people at once. You might feel like your timeline would be filled with content volume you can’t handle or subjects that you don’t care about. You’ll figure that one out yourself. Feel invited to share your personal practices with us below in the comments. If you’re still unsure, read more about good Twitter following practices here.

Who am I to give you a lecture about Twitter?

This isn’t a lecture really. I hope that anyone interested in social media and Twitter in particular could benefit from this article. Every reader is also more than welcome to share their practices and ideas on handling social media below the article in the comment section.

I am using Twitter for many years now and I have seen the platform transition through many shapes and phases. I also don’t think going around and advertising with a follower count should be a goal here. Just make sure you find great people to talk with and people who inspire you. Have a good time and gather a great crowd, that’s what social media is about. Of course companies need to think of a commercial aspect but not everything can be directly measured and calculated against an investment. Stay social in social media and you’ll do just fine.

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Photo credit: Twitter / Stefan Schubert / Derk Stenvers
Editorial notice: Examples and names in here have been made up and hopefully don’t offend anyone.

Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I’m Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say ‘hi’ sometime. 😉