So you’ve decided to make the leap into the world of Twitter.
If used properly, Twitter is an invaluable platform to build your audience and expand your network.
Let’s get started!
Creating an attractive profile
When someone clicks on your name, two of the first things they look at are your profile picture and your banner image. As these two profile components can cue a visitor into deciding whether or not you are worth following, it is important to spend some time creating an attractive profile picture/banner image ensemble.
Here are some tips for creating your profile:
1) Be approachable
As you decide on your profile picture, you should consider the archetype of people you are aiming to attract. Visit popular accounts in this archetype and tailor your profile picture after theirs.
As an example, my target audience on Twitter comprises of indie hackers and entrepreneurs. Although I personally come from a hyper-professional background where professional headshots are must-haves, I noticed that very few indie hackers and entrepreneurs wore suits in their profile pictures.
As a result, I opted for a more casual profile picture, which in turn made me more approachable for my selected audience.
2) Take advantage of your banner space
If used properly, your banner space can serve an extension of your bio. While using a nice, generic background image for your banner may be unobtrusive, it wastes the precious first-impression space of your banner. Instead, use this space to show why others should follow you.
3) Create your brand
While you don’t have to exactly match your profile and banner image colors, ensure they pair together well enough to be cohesive. However, don’t be resigned to the background color of your original profile picture.
An easy (and free) way to change it is by using remove.bg to remove the background of your original picture, and then overlaying it with a color of your choice. You can also play around with your banner image to add some flair. I personally use Figma for this purpose.
Writing an effective bio
The third component of your profile is your bio. These 160 characters play a massive role in converting profile visits into followers. Here are some tips for crafting an effective bio:
1) Don’t focus on yourself
The primary question in deciding whether or not to follow someone new is, “Will following this person bring value to me, or will it instead clutter my feed?” Your bio shouldn’t focus on you; it should focus on what value you bring to your followers.
2) Describe what you tweet about
If someone decides to follow you, what will their new feed look like? What should they expect? The answer to these questions are paramount in the decision of whether or not to follow.
3) Don’t make it a mini-resume
Twitter isn’t LinkedIn. And unless you’re well-known, it’s unlikely that someone will follow you simply because of where you’ve worked in the past. Sharing your professional history does little to provide value to your followers.
4) Add in credibility
Although you want to avoid turning your bio into a resume, if there’s something about you that makes you uniquely qualified to tweet about your chosen subject matter, highlight it! Wrote a book? Founded a startup? Sold a company? These details can build your credibility.
5) Add some character
This final component of your bio tells a potential follower something about your personality. What makes you unique? What are your hobbies? What do you care about? This small addition not only helps distinguish you from the crowd, but also can be the start of new relationships forged from shared interests.
Once you’ve set up your profile, it’s time to start tweeting! When you’re just starting out (and even when you’ve been at this for a while), it can be difficult to determine what to tweet.
As a general rule, a successful Twitter presence is all about giving. If you only ask for things from your followers (Buy my eBook! Sign up for my newsletter! Check out my product!), not many people will want to follow you.
But if instead you focus on giving—on providing value for your followers—you’ll build an audience who will want to support you when it does come time for you to ask.
So you know that you should focus on giving. But how do you convince yourself you have something valuable to give? Here are some tips for confident tweeting:
1) Know that anyone can learn something from anyone else
Think about it. No matter who you are, no matter where you’re starting from, no one has been through your unique set of experiences. That’s your ammunition. Use your unique accumulation of experiences as leverage to provide value to others.
2) It’s okay if your tweet seems obvious
As obvious as something may seem to you now, remember that there was once a time where it wasn’t. There was a point where you learned or thought about it for the first time. If at least one of your followers is at that stage, you’re providing value.
3) Authenticity is your armor
Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, but it’s particularly hard on small or new accounts that have not yet built up “social proof.” The answer is to be authentic. As long as you speak your truth, you know you’re the real thing - regardless of your follower count.
4) Make use of your conversations
Look over your DMs and conversations with friends. What questions do people come to you to ask? These are hints to the topics you can tweet about to add value to your followers.
Congratulations again on beginning your Twitter journey. You’ve made the first step into building a powerful audience and network - this guide will help you get started.
Know that ultimately, even with a stellar profile, a well-crafted bio, and an impressive montage of tweets, you can’t please everyone… So find the people you can.
It’ll take some work, but find your tribe. Find the people you resonate with and engage with them. Like and reply to their tweets. DM them to learn more about what they’re building.
Focus on building a small, supportive circle before expanding your reach. With the right community supporting you, it’s easier to build your Twitter presence.
Aprilynne is a founder using Twitter to publicly build a platform connecting students with internships at startups. She's also an avid ultimate frisbee player and a retired chess nerd.