Are You Making the Right First Impression on Twitter?

First impressions are important. I remember when I was younger; I met a girl on a cruise that was high class and a lot wealthier than I was. Ordinarily she wouldn’t have given me a second glance, but after I saved her from an ill-advised swim, we fell in love almost immediately, even though she was engaged.

Our class differences didn’t matter in that perfect moment, and it seemed like our love was meant to last forever. She even let me sketch her in the nude, which was basically awesome. The only reason our love never worked out was my death in 1912.

True, that’s actually the plot of the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic, but it still illustrates my point that first impressions are important. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about for Twitter Tuesday.

First Impressions on Twitter

One Twitter feature I haven’t seen much buzz around is the profile summary you see when you click on someone’s Twitter handle. It used to be that a click on someone’s handle would take you directly to their profile – now, before you can click through to someone’s complete profile, you’ll see this cute little profile summary pop up.

Ellen DeGeneres profile summary

Isn’t that lovely? Yes. Yes it is.

That profile summary is how people first meet you. It’s your short resume. Your elevator pitch.

The Elements of Your Twitter Profile Summary

So let’s take a look at what people are going to see about you when they reach this profile summary. There are some steps you can take to optimize your Twitter profile for this.

Twitter Profile Picture

Your profile picture is the only true image in your profile summary, and it even appears four times — so you know it’s the most important part.

And you know how I feel about profile pictures. Your profile picture matters most on Twitter, where people only know you by your short sentences and picture. Find a great headshot, or something that represents your Twitter personality.

Twitter Bio

Your Twitter profile summary comes up when someone clicks on your name. And why would someone click on your name? Because they want to know more about you. And more importantly – because they’re looking for a reason to follow you. Give them a reason!


Having a great Twitter bio is a great place to give that reason. There is a lot you can do with your 160 character bio to tell people who you are. My main advice is to be original. So I’ll leave that difficult task up to you, and just list some things people don’t want to see in your bio:

  • A bunch of hashtags and links. You get this when people try to jam everything into their bio and don’t consider how it looks to the rest of us. While they’re happy because they fit in #SEM, #SEO, #PPC and links to both of their websites – I’m avoiding their spammy bio like the plague (which was caused by rats carrying fleas using hashtags).
  • “Tweets are my own.” Who else’s tweets would they be? And what does this possibly “protect” you from? Professionals see this in other bios and think they’re supposed to say it too. That’s the only explanation for this stupid trend. You’ve only got 160 characters and you’re wasting them.
  • Too many buzz words. If your bio is full of clichéd, overused phrases from your industry… well, you don’t sound like a very interesting person to me.

Social Proof

Ellen DeGeneres follow numbers

And back to Ellen DeGeneres’ profile summary. Nothing like some good, old-fashioned social proof to convince people you’re worth a follow, right? In your profile summary, we’ve got:

  • Followed by: This field shows users whom they follow that follow you. This leads to conclusions like, “Oh, my friend Karen follows Ellen DeGeneres, and Karen is smart and cool. So I should follow Ellen DeGeneres.”
  • Follow numbers: This shows how wide of a net you cast, and how involved you are in the Twitter community. And no – you don’t need 12 million followers like Ellen for someone to want to follow you. It is actually the relationship between your followers and the number of people you’re following that will say the most about your profile.

Follow Numbers

What do your follow numbers say about you?

  • Followed >>> Following: You’re a top influencer. People will follow you if they like what you have to say.
  • Followed > Following: You’re a wise voice, but you don’t have celebrity status. People may just want to hear what you have to say, but they will also want to engage.
  • Followed < Following: You’re a peer. People will follow you to be followed back so you can engage.
  • Followed <<< Following: You’re a spam bot.

Your Last Three Tweets

The final main attribute of your profile summary is the section containing your last three tweets. This won’t show your retweets, but @ replies do show up.

This is the hardest section of your profile summary to optimize. Your last three tweets might perfectly represent your presence on Twitter. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to stop tweeting. It’s best not to stress about this too much – just focus on good tweeting and it won’t be an issue.

Additional Profile Summary Details

There is a little more going on in your Twitter profile summary that I haven’t mentioned yet:

  • Your name and @ handle. Use your real name if you want people to be able to find you. Not a lot to say here.
  • Location. You should definitely include your location – it helps connect with people in your area. We don’t need your address, but a city would be nice.
  • Website. Including a link to your website is excellent. If you’ve got two, put one in your bio (but don’t over-do it).
  • #of tweets. I don’t believe people pay much attention to this number. Without the context of how long you’ve been on Twitter, it doesn’t really mean anything. As long as you have more than 100 tweets, we’ll know you’re not a spam bot.

Do It to It

This post isn’t just about optimizing your profile summary – it’s about understanding the first impression you give on Twitter. Whether it’s the details you can edit or the ones beyond your control, you should know what you look like when you walk out onto the Twitter field.

How do you make a good first impression on Twitter? Let us know in the comments. Oh, and retweet me if someone you love needs to read this post.


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  1. This is some great information Jack, one of the first things I look at when deciding if I want to be friends with someone via twitter, is their twitter bio. I want to always make sure that I am following people that have the same interests as me and the profession I am in. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Thanks James.
      I honestly don’t notice too many backgrounds – only the bad ones. You have to be careful with adding text in your background because varying screen sizes lead to problems.
      I like Will’s that you linked to. Just a design of company colors and shapes. You don’t have to look at it – it just enhances the content you’re reading slightly. I don’t really dig the sideways name and website, because it’s not any information we can’t find in his bio, but it might just be that I don’t like turning my head sideways.
      Personally I just use of of the simple default backgrounds Twitter offers. Less is more, ya know.

  2. Too many hashtags and links is a huge pet peeve. It rarely conveys what the post is even about! It’s important to keep things easy to read in order to entice people to actually click on the link to learn more. If it’s just a bunch of symbols it’s meaningless.

    1. Totally, Nick. Less is more. And I don’t think we read hashtags the same as text. I find myself brushing over hashtags a lot without even paying attention – it just muddies up the message.

  3. I have to respectfully disagree with what your follower/following count says about you. I think it is a bunch of BS that you need to have a lot of followers but low following back count in order to seem like you are “doing it right.” I actually think that is doing it wrong. I respect people who have a lot of followers but actually take the time to follow others back. I think it’s a good thing to do and strengthens relationships. Sometimes I am actually hesitant to follow people with high followers/low follow back because I know they are just using that to broadcast messages. I am just a “little person” at that point. I would rather follow someone who actually wants to build a relationship with me, and vice versa. So I take a high follower/following count as a GOOD thing. I am not advocating for blindly following everyone back, but I don’t think people should stop following others back just so they can seem more “important” or cool by having a lower ratio.

    1. I get what you’re saying, Emily. Thanks for the comment.
      It’s always weird to see Followers and Following numbers side by side, because they really represent two completely different things. Followers is how many people want to hear what you say, and maybe even interact with you. Following is how many people you want to listen to, and maybe interact with.
      So yeah, people with high follower numbers that don’t interact with anyone – unless you’re a ‘celebrity,’ it’s pretty weird. That’s when I feel like a “little person,” like you said.

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