Is yours saying what you really want to say?
I’m a member of several social networking services: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo Groups, etc.
All social networks have the same idea when it comes to setting up your account. You provide information about yourself in a “bio.” The maximum length of a bio can vary from site to site. Twitter, on the low end, allows only 160 characters. LinkedIn has no maximum length. Other services fit in between.
Your bio is your primary way to tell people who don’t know you what you’re all about. If they’re heard about you from someone else or stumbled upon one of your Twitter tweets or Facebook wall posts, they might be interested in learning more. They might even want to become your . . . wait for it . . . friend.
The point is, they’ll start with your bio to learn more about you, so it’s in your best interest to create a good one.
Here are some tips for creating an online bio for social networking:
- Be brief. This is required on Twitter, which allows only 160 characters. As such, you’ll need to keep the text tight and specific. Lists usually work well here. Even if the service allows longer bios, don’t get carried away. Start off with the basics — the “must-know” info about you. Then expand in additional paragraphs. Nobody is going to slog through hundreds of words just to decide whether you’re someone they want to follow or be friends with.
- Be accurate. Include the things that are important to you, keeping in mind the audience of the social networking service. The things you put on a Twitter or Facebook bio are likely to be very different from the ones you put in a LinkedIn bio, since the services are set up for different purposes. Don’t make stuff up. If you have to make up things about who you are, you really need to step away from the computer and get a life.
- Be meaningful. Sure, lots of folks think it’s cute or cool to have a one-line bio with some spiffy saying, possibly snatched from a punch line in a movie. If a movie-one liner describes you to a stranger, I’m impressed by the shallowness of your character. The folks I want to know tend to be a bit deeper.
- Be aware of turn-off words. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be friends with anyone who is a self-proclaimed guru or expert. These are words that other people should apply to you — not words you apply to yourself. Other turn-off words vary from person to person. If you are a woman and describe yourself as “sexy,” a heterosexual woman like me is not going to be impressed. But a teenaged boy or a lesbian might.
- Be aware of providing too much personal information. Do we need to know that you’re rebuilding your life after a divorce? Or that you’re a recovered alcoholic? And while you might be proud to be a “Christ follower,” when you include that in your bio, you shouldn’t expect to make many friends with people who aren’t fundamentalist Christians or not religious at all.
Think of your bio as bait on a fishing line. Who will it attract? But, at the same time, how many people will ultimately be disappointed by the mismatch between what your bio says about you and who you really are?
What do you like or hate about things people put in their social networking bios? Use the comments for this post to share your thoughts.