Friday, March 23, 2012

"...International Tweeter of Mystery"

So you've set up your twitter account, posted a few times and followed a bunch of people. And what's happened?

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

With the exception of Barack Obama, a handful of pneumatic blondes with oddly similar profiles and your Mum, the twitterverse has ignored you.

Maybe it's because your profile looks like this:

Hear those crickets? See that tumbleweed? This profile screams "I GAVE IN AND SIGNED UP, OK? DON'T ASK FOR MORE THAN THAT!!!"

Let's dissect this:

User name

From an individual professional standpoint, your name is your brand online so it helps if all your social media identities reflect your real name in some way. Of course if your name is John Smith then I'm afraid you've pretty much missed the boat. However JnSmith or Jn_Smith might still be available. 

I'll admit this is a case of "Do as I say not do as I do" since my own twitter name is nothing like my real name - like many old Internet lags, it's a hangover from the halcyon days of message boards in the mid-90s when no one dared use their real name. I'd grab mine now though if I got the chance.

Profile photo

Lose the egg - nothing says "Ignore me" more than the default Twitter egg avatar. Ideally post a photo of yourself; if possible one that wouldn't make your mother wince. You want people to talk to you, they want to know you're a real person, this helps them to know who's at the other end of the line. For this reason don't be tempted to use those photos of hot blondes - you'll get rumbled eventually and by default everyone assumes that model photos aren't real.  

Failing that, pick something eye catching, something that will let people spot your tweets quickly without having to read your name as well.  One of my former colleagues used a striking photo of some branches against a brilliant blue sky.  I came to associate the photo with her and it was easy to pick her posts out in my twitter feed. Of course the drawback came when she decided to change it - it took me forever to adjust. Similarly you may find that your followers complain when you switch avatars - so chose wisely young Jedi.


A blank bio says "I'm probably a spammer who could not be bothered to fill this out".  There are 300 million people using Twitter. Your bio is the first thing many potential followers will see. Given the choice between "British Actor, Writer, Lord of Dance, Prince of Swimwear & Blogger" and "                               " which do you think would be more interesting?

However, you only have 160 characters for this so you need to get clever. If you can pull off humour then go for it, but remember that one man's comedian is another's smartarse so don't get too cocky. You need to give people a good idea of who you are, what you're about, what interests you AND persuade them you're worth their time and attention. No pressure.

Some tweeters - especially those who have a list of interests - get sneaky and add hashtags to key words so that their profile is more likely to pop up in searches for those topics.

If you're happy to say where you work, it's a good idea to include a mention of your employers' official Twitter account. Besides, it'll probably take up less space than the full company name. However if you do that, make sure that you include a disclaimer that all opinions are your own; you are not an official channel for your company.


Don't waste any chance to give potential followers access to more information about you if they want it.  If you're using Twitter professionally, a link to your own web site or LinkedIn profile would be perfect here. 

Number of Tweets/Followers/Following

There's only so much you can do here. As far as the number of tweets is concerned just work on it and accept that you won't pick up too many followers while the numbers are still low unless you're a celebrity or a brilliant tweeter.  Regarding following/followers, ideally you should have something close to equal numbers here. Don't obsess about it but the classic sign of a spammer is someone following about 1,000 people of whom only a handful have followed back.

Of course there may be a dozen other reasons why you're not getting followers but at least with a decent profile you can rest assured it's not because they think you're a spammer/not real/a sociopath

...unless of course you are.

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