On Twitter? You’d Better Be Real.

A few days ago, my friend and social media maven Irene Koehler wrote a fantastic blog post entitled “11 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Me to Unfollow You on Twitter”.  After I laughed myself silly over #1 (you’ll see why), and smiled and nodded at all the others, my eyes lit again on #11.  Here’s what it says:

“You don’t get that authenticity is a key component of social media success. You have the default Twitter avatar or are using a photo of your dog. You haven’t completed your Twitter bio – come on, it is really, really easy to do. I don’t know your name and can’t find your blog, your LinkedIn profile or any other online presence…”

I couldn’t agree more.

I love Twitter.  I take it very seriously, whether I’m debating, offering advice,  or joking with friends.  Always, in the back of my mind, is one constant reminder to myself  –

Be real.

And I am, all the time.  My commitment to authenticity started with the page many people ignore, or scurry through, with no thought to content or context.

The Settings page.  Where you start to build your personal brand on Twitter.  Really.

I can almost hear the sound of heads snapping to attention.  It’s just a silly image and a tiny, insignificant bio, right?


If you are on Twitter to inform, engage, discuss, grow your business, join a community or support a cause, then give your brand the attention it deserves.

Think about how you want to look to the world.

I’m a strong advocate of an attractive photo or avatar that conveys something about you.  I’m not a huge fan of logos, unless you are writing exclusively for a company or product and not as yourself.  Otherwise, it’s hard to warm up to a logo in conversation.

Bios are short, but they pack a punch. And don’t forget – they are searchable, so choose your words carefully. Ask yourself a few key questions:

What do I want the world to know about me?

What is important to me right now?

What sort of people do I want to find and follow me?

Depending on how you answer, your bio may focus on your business, or the fact that you are looking for job opportunities.  Or it may be all about your hobbies, passions and talents.  Or your cats:-)

And it’s all good, because you’ve taken the time to understand what interactions you want out of Twitter.  And feel free to change the bio.  It keeps things fresh as your priorities change.

And yes, by all means add the links to your blog, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles  if they’re complementary to the brand you’re building on Twitter.

And ask for help if you need it.  Irene’s offered. So am I.  There are tons of smart, helpful people out there who would gladly offer their assistance in the name of authenticity and engagement.

We’ve had enough of names that are nothing but jibberish,  silly or offensive avatars, and NO story.  And we aren’t impressed if all you tweet about is yet another site that got you hundreds of new followers or another quick and easy way to make lots of money.

We want to talk to, learn from, share life’s moments with, and  help real people who are just as eager to do the same.

So if you are one of those people, I’d love you to follow me @CathyBrowne so I can follow you back.  For the rest of you, I have only one thing to say.

Please get real.

3 thoughts on “On Twitter? You’d Better Be Real.

  1. I understand your frustration and your emphasis on “real” so I encourage you to log off from your social media and join your local community group.

    There is a variety of activities to choose from to extend your “real” social networks; from sporting activities through to arts and crafts groups, you are bound to find something you like.

    Obviously, there will be no avatars and people will greet you with their real names and once you form a bond with some group members you can then feel good about ‘friending’ them on your favorite social medias.

    I make this point, not to detract from the intimacy you seek from online social media, but rather to help soften the harsh tone of your article.

    Please be open minded when using online social media that, unlike your local community group, people of all types are using google. Not everyone is comfortable with having their real life transparently listed in the minutes of a search result for reasons which are valid in the cyber world. These reasons do not exist to the same extent in “real” life.

    For example, consider those with unlisted phone numbers. What may be the reasoning behind this descision? Would you stop being friends with Judy because she felt that it was necessary to have a silent number? No. You would be wise to accept Judy’s judgement and continue to have the same quality phone conversations that you did with her when her number appeared in the telephone directory. Judy hasn’t changed. She has not turned into steel alloy and become a spam bot – but she may want to warm to the people who interest her before disclosing her telephone number.

    Judy will not decide, at the community social club, that because she wants YOU to call her, that she will write her phone number on a card along with her name, age, a photo of herself, her occupation, and location and pin it up on the community notice board! Infact, it would seem bizare of her to do this in real life and chances are (if you respected Judy as a friend) you would warn her about the weirdos that might get hold of her particulars to her detriment.

    Now Judy has a great deal of respect for you, but she feels more comfortable with an alias and an avatar online, and is a little hurt that people in cyberspace might not consider her worthy of friending; She is caring, shy, funny, insightful and has a lot to offer you on social media. She may even be the best friend you hav ever made if you were only willing to give her a chance! Once she’s warmed to you she may meet you for a cuppa, give you her phone number, disclose intimate details about herself with you like her date of birth, name, suburb and send family pictures to you in trust and confidence. It may begin with a progression from avatar/alias to a live vide chat with real names.

    Even if Judy had of used a photo of herself dolled up for a debuton/wedding celebration as her profile pic – chances are she looks nothing like that on, say, Skype!!!

    With all due respect, and I honestly mean that for I respect your carefully worded view on this subject, please, please be more flexible in cyberspace with regards to your definition of “real” people.

    Thankyou for hearing me out – if you got past my alias and lack of profile pic and read through to the end.

Leave a Reply