I don’t believe any other (non-professional) social networking platform lays as much emphasis on a user’s profile as does Twitter.
Think about it.
The average Twitter user has spent at least a few minutes deciding what to write in their bio. And the (hyper)active Twitter user changes their bio frequently to reflect a change in status, a new opinion, new news or just their latest favourite quote.
Apart from the content, of course, is the way it’s written. People go to great lengths to be witty, or to understate the coolness of who they are or what they do.
And, of course, there’s the whole Verified Account thing.
Personally, I’ve spent a decent amount of time crafting and re-crafting my bio, more times than I can count.
Typically, my bio tells followers — and prospective followers — a bunch of things:
- It acts as a quick professional introduction. (Digital Creative Director).
- It’ll tell people where I work (most of the time, at least).
- It also tells people how I perceive myself. (Reader, writer, geek).
- A shameless plug for my wife’s burgeoning small business (CXO @PoppadumArt — the longstanding joke is that the value of X varies daily based on whether she needs a packer or a social media manager).
- Occasionally, it tells people about my latest piece of work (Creator @BioStories).
- I specialise in puns and “Aaww Dad” kind of humour, so my bio has a hat tip to that too (Purveyor of fine PJs).
- I might round it off with a note on something that’s on my mind right now; as it turns out, this week’s topic is Indian politics (Itinerant Twitter activist).
- All of this, of course, is written with an undercurrent of humour that makes me (in my eyes, at least) seem more follow-worthy.
- A dissection of a sample of Twitter bios will probably yield similar results.
Of course, the whole purpose of sweating over my bio is to attract more followers, and reduce unfollows.
Naturally, once I’ve made a statement about myself, I need to make sure my tweets live up to it. Take a look at my timeline, and you’ll realise they do.
It sounds rather simplistic, right? But what I’m getting at is this:
Your bio is the first step in building a personal brand identity on Twitter.
It’s the headline of the ad, or the baseline of the company. And everything you do on Twitter simply follows from there. Many people get on Twitter for a purpose, and the bio helps them establish that purpose.
Which is why it surprises me that Twitter pays little heed to the bio. To the extent that, unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, it doesn’t tell your followers when you’ve updated your bio.
A gaping hole in the feature set of a platform that revolves around strong personal branding.
A couple of weeks ago, the team at Hansa Cequity, the digital-driven marketing agency where I work, rolled out a tool to fix that hole. It’s called BioStories.
At a basic level, BioStories sets up a user’s Twitter handle to auto-tweet every time you update your bio, thus giving the user’s new status the visibility it deserves.
The tweet carries with it a link to the user’s public BioStories page, which aggregates all the user’s bios since they signed up.
In a very real sense, BioStories lets your followers — and prospective followers — learn more about you and your life based on your Twitter identity.
BioStories is free to use and in open beta at www.biostories.net. As you read this, we’re working on improving the app, and will soon be churning out a whole host of bug fixes and new features.
We didn’t build this with monetisation in mind. But we do hope to gather data and learn more about Twitter users in the process. Our biggest validation, of course, would be if Twitter picked it up and built the feature into its own system.
Do sign up and give it a shot. Feedback — tweet to @BioStories — would always be welcome.
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