Someone asked me recently to go back to some easy basics about Twitter. I thought that would be too easy until someone on Facebook asked me what an avatar was, or how to choose a file for their bio. Because I don’t want this to be too easy, I’ll throw in advanced tips to help you optimize your bio.

WHAT’S A BIO, ANYWAY?

No doubt you’ve opened enough accounts at this point in your life to know what a bio is. A Twitter bio is no different, and completely different. Let’s deconstruct.

PROFILE PAGE (to get here, click on the gear button on the top right, then on Settings, then on Profile):

– Photo (aka, avatar): When you first set up your account, Twitter will suggest you upload a photo. If you’re an individual, not a business, I always suggest you choose a photo of yourself. It doesn’t have to be professional or fancy — in fact, I suggest something that looks most like how you typically appear in daily life. I’d avoid wedding or holiday shots — these often have other people in them and make it harder to see you clearly.

Tip: Some people feel strongly that you upload a picture and then never, ever change it. I disagree. As long as it’s not too much of a departure, there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit.

– Header: Last year, Twitter added a header option, which allows us to upload a file, i.e., a book cover or a picture of some sort. You don’t have to add a header, but it is a nice way to get in a bit of passive promotion. Mine looks like this >>>>>>>

header_image_1100x250 (2)Tip: I asked my graphic designer to create something for me, so if you have someone you use, have them do the same. If you have the skillz, do it yourself. :)

Name: Seems obvious, but use you REAL name where it says ‘name.’ Even if your Twitter profile doesn’t match your real name, that’s okay.

My Twitter handle for my author account is @RachelintheOC, because Rachel Thompson was already taken, so I created something catchy and easy to remember. Now that I’ve moved from the OC (Orange County, CA) after seventeen years there, it no longer applies, but oh well. It’s how people know me (you can change your handle and you won’t lose your followers, though I don’t recommend doing that unless you’ve just started on Twitter).

Exception: If for some reason you want to keep your identity private, I suggest using a pen name and a related picture (i.e., for an erotica writer).

Tip: Make your handle easy to remember. A combo of letters and numbers may have clever meaning to you, but it means jack to your followers and they’ll never remember it. Make yourself easy to find. Don’t be your own worst enemy here .

Location: Some people are very specific about where they live, others like myself, aren’t (stalkers, etc. Long, boring story.). So, I realized I could use the space to add more detail to my bio (‘#MondayBlogs every Monday’ is my location now). Regardless, there’s no law that says you have to put your location.

Tip: It’s a good idea if you’re a local business and hope to attract more business.

Website: Obvious.

Tip: Purchase your domain, i.e., I own RachelintheOC.com. If I didn’t, it would be much longer, with wordpress at the end (or blogger or Tumblr or Weebly, etc). You are limited by space in every aspect of Twitter (it’s not called ‘micro-blogging’ for nothing) so shorten it up.

– Bio: You have 160 characters (that includes spaces). Clever is good here. Show, don’t tell. If you’re funny, say something funny. Don’t say, ‘I’m funny.’ #snore

Use hashtags, no more than three. This makes your searchable. For example, #author, #bookblogger, #socialmedia, whatever.

Tip: Twitter now allows you to add a second hyperlinked website in the bio section itself. Shorten it using bitly.com, which allows you to make the most of the limited space, customize it (i.e., with your book title), and track clicks (i.e., clicks from Twitter to Amazon — this is a great trick since Amazon gives us NO information about sales).

Once you’re done here, click on DESIGN.

WHAT IS DESIGN?

DESIGN is all about your background. Your options here are fairly straightforward: Pick a pre-made theme, click on Themeleon (thousands of patterns and choices), or customize your own background.

Tip: Just as in your header, you can customize your background. I recommend keeping the header and background similar (though not identical). Mine looks like this:

twitterbg2

Every opportunity you have to provide information to people, do it.

Many of us look at your header, bio, avatar and background before we follow you. Some of us even check out your tweets. I feel like a broken record, but if all you do is spam links to your own work, you will not sell books or gain followers.

Providing this type of info looks professional and allows you the advantage of selling without, well, selling. Got questions? Ask below!