May 15, 2018

Using Your Twitter Profile to Connect With Others

Gender Neutral Bathroom Sign - Gas Station in Playa del Rey, CA - December 2017.jpg
By Peter Greenberg - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
I have a quick and easy suggestion for those of you who use Twitter and would like to connect with people who are likely to be interested in whatever sort of content you tweet. It has to do with the contents of your Twitter bio. You do have a bio, don't you? When was the last time you reviewed it?

If it has been a while since you looked at your bio, it is time to take a look. Log in to Twitter's web interface, click your profile photo in the upper right-hand corner of the page, and select "Profile." On the left sidebar, you'll see your bio.

Here's my suggestion: write your bio in such a way that it tells others something about what they'll see from you on Twitter. I know this may seem obvious, but I have been surprised by how few people seem to do it. Use your bio to tell others what you usually tweet about, and you will likely end up with more engaged followers.

If most people don't do this, what do they do instead? Based on the last several Twitter bios I've looked at, many people do little more than list as many identity labels as they can fit in their bio. I'm not saying you shouldn't have any identity labels, but I am suggesting that you might want to limit yourself to those that accurately reflect what you tweet about. When you write "feminist" in your bio and someone follows you because they think you are interested in feminism, they are going to be disappointed if you rarely tweet anything about feminism.

There's something else about the identity labels that has never sat right with me. Do you really want people to follow you because of what you are (e.g., bisexual, father, humanist, retired teacher) rather than what you have to say? I don't. If I had a particular identity label that was relevant to what I tweeted, I'd consider including it. But I'd be careful to make sure that it was relevant to my content. 

Since I use Twitter primarily to promote Atheist Revolution, I include the blog's tagline in my Twitter bio (i.e., "Breaking free from irrational belief and opposing Christian extremism"). This gives people an idea of what the blog is about and maps on well to what I tweet about. Using something like "Author of Atheist Revolution" in its place would accomplish neither. I follow the tagline with something that both reflects my usual content and communicates an important statement of principle: "Embrace #freethought; reject tribalism." I conclude with two hashtags that reflect my typical content: "#atheism" and "#secular."

I almost always look at someone's Twitter bio before I follow them. I am far more likely to follow people who give me a good sense of what they tweet about vs. those who give me nothing more than a bunch of identity labels.