Prepping your Twitter account for people

When people visit your account for the first time, they make a snap decision. Assuming they have a Twitter account already, they have to decide whether to follow you or not. They make that decision based on 10 factors:

  1. Your name
  2. Your username
  3. Your location
  4. Your bio
  5. Your profile colors
  6. Your picture
  7. Your follower count, following count, tweet count, and list count
  8. Your profile link
  9. Your reputation outside Twitter
  10. Your Twitter stream

The best option, for you, is for visitors to follow you immediately. Sometimes, they’ll read around, maybe click through to your blog, and then come back to follow you. But don’t count on that. Focus on the quick follow.

With 10 different factors in play, that quick follow gets complicated. So let’s take this one at a time, making sure each one could stand alone to get the follow.

  • Your name: Use your real name. Don’t goof around with this. If you’re trying to be¬†anonymous, don’t get on Twitter. The only exception might be if you’re parodying someone (but not if you’re tweeting for a company).
  • Your username: Again, use your real name without any underscores if you can. If you can’t, try to make it as simple as possible. Avoid numbers and special characters at all costs, unless they fits memorably into your name, something like Cre8tive. Also, try capitalizing the first letter of each word if you have separate words in your username. That way, they’ll stand out better, like MarshallJonesJr instead of marshalljonesjr. Whatever you use, make sure it’s something you can read.
  • Your location: You don’t have to enter your exact address, but it is nice to include your city (and state if you’re in the US… and country for international users). If you can interject some humor here, I always appreciate that too, as long as it’s not at the expense of an actual location. In other words, don’t just say, “Winter Wonderland.”
  • Your bio: I’m still not satisfied with mine. I don’t like the list of labels, like “father, blogger, SEO guru, food lover, avid reader,” etc. I much prefer a story of some kind. But that takes up more space, which is tight as it is. Experimenting goes a long way when you’re trying to come up with a good bio. Also, if you follow back, RT, list, or anything else a lot, you might want to include that too.
  • Your profile design: I’m tired of the whole Twitter background thing, the ones with another profile and contact into on the left side. They seem scammy to me now, like too corporate. Maybe that’s just me. I still appreciate someone who’s taken the time to edit their colors though, maybe even a background picture. It shows you’re serious and unique, not some newcomer.
  • Your picture: This is so crucial, but I just have two tips on it. Tip one, make sure it’s a picture of your face, nice and close, not some avatar or full-body shot. The picture’s too small to see you from a distance, and I’m much more interested in people than logos or puppies or flowers or cartoons. Tip two, keep the same picture as long as possible. On Twitter where people with lots of followers only see each other once in a while, you become your picture. Make it recognizable by keeping it consistent. It’s your brand.
  • Your follower count, following count, tweet count, and list count: As a general rule, you want your follower count higher than your following count. That means at least some people care enough about you to follow you even if you don’t follow back. I don’t like having two big of a gap, though, because then that seems like I don’t care, that I’m not engaged. That’s part of why I follow back (except spammers). High tweet and list counts also usually mean you’re engaged. You can’t directly control your list or follower counts, but you can play off them with the other two counts you can control.
  • Your profile link: Just having one is a big deal. Secondly, you want that link to point somewhere non-sales related. Even if you’re on Twitter just to sell stuff, don’t do it from that link. That link should just direct people to where they can learn more about you. If you have a site, you can even create a specific landing page for your Twitter account. If you don’t have your own site, link to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile.
  • Your reputation outside Twitter: Can’t help you there, at least not in this post.
  • Your Twitter stream: And we’ll cover this one next time.

So really that’s only eight things to focus on for now. So get on it.