Olivier Blanchard's latest Twitter bio says "Pray that I never become your competitor's secret weapon." When I read that, I tell you what I do do – I click on his link and find out more.
How many times have you seen a Twitter bio that says "Husband. Father. Thinker. Runner. Twitterer. Love design and the web." or words to that effect?
As I get more followers, deciding who to follow back is an important decision for me. I don't want to have a full tweet stream and I also don't use applications like TweetDeck or Seesmic to keep lists, so having a good list of people that I follow is important. And my criteria for who I follow is quite simple: will you add value to me?
I don't know if many of us have ever thought deeply about why we follow certain people and don't follow others, but my criteria goes something like this:
- Are you unique from everyone else out there just talking?
- Are you well versed in your area and therefore able to bring me new insights?
- Are you similar to me or I do relate to you?
- Is your location, company or job of immediate interest to me?
- Do you talk back to people?
Whilst I don't expect everyone to be all those to me, I seem to weigh up a general feel from someone based on these thoughts that flick across my mind, and if I feel the response is generally positive, I follow.
And where do I look to make this decision? I'd say 70% of my focus is on the bio.
Is your bio unique?
Recently my friend Robin Dickinson wrote a very good post, which had a very good discussion, on putting your link within your Twitter bio as well as in the link field. His point was that you don't get much time in front of eyeballs these days and any opportunity you have to up your chance of getting followed or getting clicked must be considered.
In my comment on this post I brought up the very point that I started with: when I read a bio that is generic and the same as everyone else's – "Father. Husband. Dog Lover. Pasta Eater", etc – I lose interest. Nothing stands out to me. In a word, it is not unique.
It is as if I am being told by the person "I'm just like everyone else, in the middle of the road, and an alright kinda guy." And whilst indeed I do appreciate alright kinda people, and we should strive to be good willed on Twitter, it's exceptional people that I'm looking for on Twitter.
My suggestion is that we need to rethink our bio and make it unique. And what do I mean by unique? I mean that it demands either a click on your link, or a follow – a second look, if you will.
The biggest element in being unique in your Twitter bio is to create mystery. Make a statement that makes people want to know more. Make it the trailer for the movie – the 160 character snippet of the full blown experience that is you. Ask a question, make a bold statement, point to something you're proud of, say something different about yourself… as long as it's something that makes people look twice (and doesn't make them close the window right away!)
Our Twitter bios are a 160 character chance to demonstrate our USP (unique selling point), so let's reclaim them from the realms of mediocrity and really express our uniqueness and our value in a way that demands a second look.