Talking about yourself is hard. Doing it in 160 characters or less is even harder.
That’s probably why so many of us end up stressed about crafting the perfect professional bio for Twitter – or LinkedIn, Facebook or other social networks.
It has to set you apart, but still reflect approachability. Make you look accomplished, but not braggy. Appear professional, with just a touch of the personal. Bonus points for a bit of humor thrown in, because hey, social media is fun!
In this post, we’ll go over the universal principles to write a great social media bio – regardless of the network. We’ll also take a look at the big social media networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ – and discover how to make the most of the bio space provided by each.
Six rules to write a foolproof bio
“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” – Henry David Thoreau
1. Show, don’t tell: “What have I done” > “Who I am”
Lots of us are fans, enthusiasts, thinkers and gurus on our social media profiles. But might it be more powerful if we talked instead about harnessing ideas, wrangling revenue, obsessing over culture and shepherding our teams?
The “show, don’t tell” principle of writing means focusing on what you do, not who you are – and that means action verbs.
LinkedIn senior manager for corporate communications Krista Canfield says the more details, the better to add some show to your tell.
“Don’t just say you’re creative. Make sure you reference specific projects you worked on that demonstrate your creativity,” she says.
2. Tailor your keywords specifically to your audience
“Your Twitter bio should position you as an expert in your field who serves a specific audience,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself.
Skip the generalist route and focus on what you’re an expert at. Those areas of focus are your keywords, and they should be front and center in any professional bio. All social media profiles are searchable to some degree, so being specific positions you to be able to be found easily for what you’re best at.
3. Keep language fresh and avoid buzzwords (you can Google Top buzzwords to have a clearer picture of over-used buzzwords)
It happens – a once loved and useful word stops being so useful when it’s overtaxed. In your professional bio, think over the language and make sure it feels fresh, not overused.
4. Answer one question for the reader: “What’s in it for me?”
No matter what feats you’ve accomplished, potential followers mostly want to know one thing about you: What’s in it for me? In marketing, that’s known as a value proposition – the promise of value to be delivered. What can followers expect from you? What value do you bring?
5. Get personal and Use a bit of humor in your Bio
That last little tidbit of the bio – usually where a funny quip or a more personal fact goes – often trips us up the most. Being funny is tough – that’s why social media agency owner Gary Vaynerchuk often hires stand-up comedians to write social media posts. And it’s tough to pick one element of a fully rounded personality to focus on.
The key again, is specificity. Lots of us love social media, coffee and bacon. But if you love llamas, jelly donuts and spelunking, you just might stand out and connect with some interesting new people. Tell a one-of-a-kind story. What hobbies and passions are uniquely yours?
6. Revisit often
As your skills, areas of interest and expertise evolve, so should your bio. Check it every quarter or so to make sure it still reflects you the best it can.
“The very best practitioners of short writing on blogs, on social networks, are people who are working over their prose.
How to max out your bio on each social network
Now that we’ve got an idea of what makes a great social media bio, let’s look at each social network specifically. Here’s a quick cheat sheet from Unbounce to get started.
What you get: A 160-character bio, plus space for a link and your location.
How to: When logged in to Twitter, click Me, then “Edit Profile.”
Stellar Twitter bios
Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Why it works: In a word, humor. Hillary doesn’t need to drum up awareness – we know who she is. But modifiers like “pantsuit aficionado” help us see her in a new light.
Maria Popova, Brainpickings.org
Why it works: A pitch-perfect value proposition. You know exactly what you’ll get if your follow.
Joel Gascoigne, Buffer founder and CEO
Why it works: OK, this may be cheating. But check out that string of excellent and specific keywords!
What you get: “About You” section, including the freeform “Write About Yourself” prompt, Work and Education, “Professional Skills” area and Favorite Quotations section
How to: From your Facebook page, click on “About,” then “Update Info.”
Here, you can edit any of your About sections.
What you get: Lots! LinkedIn is home base for all your professional accomplishments, but we’ll focus on your headline and summary.
How to: Logged into LinkedIn, click “Profile” and choose “Edit” from the drop-down menu.
Stellar LinkedIn bios
Krista Canfield, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn
Why it works: If a LinkedIn manager can’t nail her bio, what chance do the rest of us have? Luckily, Krista does. A reader gets a great sense of who she is from this passage, and the passion shines through strongly. Plus, lots of great verbs!
Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist
Why it works: If a bio is like an elevator pitch in writing, this one gets you hooked in a hurry by using the power of storytelling.
Demian Farnworth, writer at Copyblogger
What you get: Google+ offers you space for your “Story,” including a Tagline, Introduction and Bragging Rights sections. (There’s also space for work history and links.)
How to: Logged into Google+, click on Profile, then About, then the Edit button of the specific section you want to edit.
Let’s see your bios!
Want to share your own bio, or your company’s? Paste it into the comments so we can see more great examples!