12 Most Fundamental Don’ts When Writing Your Social Media Bio
Ever browsed a social media site and become intrigued by the other users you find? Only, you begin to get tired of bios or introductions that don’t include a few elementary details. You want to know about these people (this is why, for crying out loud, you are on a social channel to begin with). How are you to choose fellow users to socialize with when so many of those users’ bios suggest they are merely lurkers there to either a.) prove to their buddies IRL (in real life) that they are socially savvy or b.) stalk various exes, celebrities or other persons they find of interest (I am going to ignore the porn stalkers here as irrelevant to the dealings of the general social media population, which I will also define as mostly normal).
In response to this irritating dilemma, I found that I began skipping over any users with certain characteristics in their bios (the users with no bios are just shot to the bottom of the barrel—that place only otherwise inhabited by the automatic follower-bots whose bios are, if it’s possible, actually worse than the no-bio bios). So, I have compiled a list of the fundamental don’ts when writing your social media bio, and I am going to give you a guided tour of bad bio writing.
1. You don’t include enough information
This point is beyond important. Even if you have no desire to develop a personal brand, online reputation, or even just a semi-credible appearance, if you wish to be identified as a cognizant human being (no bots!), please, please, include some information. A beginning point is better than no point at all.
2. You include too much information
It’s amazing how many people, who are actually interesting, think that a life vita (as in resume-style record of everything you have ever done used mainly to apply for scholarly, high-security, or government jobs) is necessary to establish their creditability. By including too much information, these former persons of interest have killed said interest because of their need to impress us with their skills.
3. You misspell, mis-capitalize, and mis-punctuate
Basic spelling must be done correctly. We all miss an apostrophe on occasion (human error), but not applying a spell check to your bio is wrong, (wrong!) especially if you are trying to establish creditability as a professional. I will spare you more obsessive lecturing.
4. You fixate on one of your less pleasing attributes
Now this is, once again, a matter of the audience you are seeking out. If you want to appear to be a professional, it is not a good idea to mention that you are a hard-partying gal or guy (or identify yourself with most things you associate with a fraternity). You probably also shouldn’t write descriptions that could be taken in more than one way (example, “I make.” Really? Really?).
5. You are self-indulgent (love talking about yourself in the third person)
This point goes hand-in-hand with points 2 and 4. You kinda’ think you are the exception to most rules and really should be elected locally as a mayor (in a Foursquare sort of sense). Well, your tone comes across. Don’t patronize us.
6. You use the standard, boring formula
“I am a XXX at YYY working in ZZZ. On the weekends I bake brownies, take long walks on the beach, and play chess.” I may be exaggerating a wee bit, but look for these bios, and you will see that they exist. You don’t have to be too creative to overcome this (I can cut you a little slack); just mix it up a bit. (Perhaps: “Executive Assistant for a company I love; brownie-lover; local hiker; amateur chess-player”)
7. You mention ALL the other people who have ever inspired you
It’s okay to mention your beautiful spouse and children and that they are the inspiration for your life (it takes all kinds to make up a social network). Just remember that we aren’t necessarily wanting information about your entire clan; rather, we were initially curious about you.
8. You stuff as many kudos and awards in as possible
Ah. The somewhat necessary, but usually self-indulgent, evil. How many awards are too many to include in said bio? Tell you what, pick the highlights—the ones that really mean something to you. There may be an essential award that really does take you or your company to a new level in which case you can post it; however, read between the lines. Is it really necessary or are you putting up an unapproachable wall between you and everyone else?
9. You are promoting a product, company, brand, to the exclusion of anything else
“But we are on this social channel to promote our company.” Yes, I know. Your company or product is why you initially signed up, but now that you have joined a social network, you need to evolve. Your brand has become, in essence, a presence. As such, you need to ask yourself if you care about your consumers or if you are just going to post endless updates about the insurance packages you offer (you can’t tell me that isn’t annoying).
10. You are too personal
Personal bios are, well, very personal. Are you comfortable having your boss at work know the info you just posted in your bio? How about a possible client? An emotional dump of information is for your diary. It’s okay to mention a life-changing experience, just keep it professional in a way; make sure it doesn’t dominate our lives as well.
11. You use too many irritating symbols
Perhaps these new, strange, meta-languagey, emoticon symbols are your language. Too bad. Grow up and post something readable by the general populace on your bio. Disclaimer: If you are under the age of 14 I give you permission to use them for awhile.
12. You are too vague and conceptual
Example: “Covering the changing world of branding.” I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t know what that means. I think you are in branding? At this point I have lost interest.
And this ends our tour of the 12 most fundamental don’ts of social media bio writing. I have to acknowledge here that rules, in this case classified as don’ts, can, on occasion, be broken. However, THIS IS NOT FOR THE LAY-BIO WRITER. Begin simply. Consider your tone. Ask yourself if your bio is actually interesting or if you are being lazy and writing in a semi-code that only you find amusing.
A good bio is insight into your persona (that image you create of yourself online). You can be yourself in your social media bio, just make it readable. Consider carefully what you might want to know about someone else and apply it to your own bio. Social media is a two-way street. We are there to find others we like but that means giving something in return.
Featured image courtesy of sure2talk licensed via Creative Commons.