I get numerous spammy auto-bots following me on Twitter everyday. As I trawled through them yesterday something occurred to me. A person’s Twitter bio is very much like the back cover blurb of a book.

To explain, Twitter is infested by scumbags that have bots set up to auto-follow anyone that might be vaguely interested. For example, I happened to post a tweet the other day that had the words “real estate” among the 140 characters. For the next two days I was getting bombed with dozens of followers that all happened to be real estate agents. In places like Dallas. Arseholes. When I was chatting about this on Twitter with @timothywcrane we thought it could become a new Twitter sport. I said perhaps it could be a sport where you try to attract certain auto-follows and he said, “You could set it up like scavenger, collect one whore, one political intellectual, a marketer, and 2 sports buffs, etc…” Could be quite a laugh, though I have no idea how you’d make that work.

Anyway, I digress. The point is this: as so many scumbag spammers always have these auto-follow things running, I don’t just automatically follow back everyone that follows me. I try to go through and selectively follow back. Sometimes this is just too much. I might get up and see twenty new follows sitting in my inbox and I can’t be arsed. Especially before my first coffee. They often get an automatic mass-delete. However, when grumpiness allows I go through these follows and check to see if I want to follow them back.

Given how many there are I make pretty quick decisions based almost entirely on the little Bio on a person’s Twitter page. And this is where it occurred to me that it’s like the back cover blurb of a book. This is what my Twitter page looks like:

twitter-scrnsht

That little paragraph to the right of my name is the Bio section. My decision on whether or not to follow someone back is entirely based on what’s written here. Mine says:

Alan is an author living on the south coast of NSW, Australia. He writes dark fantasy and horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu.

It’s short, slightly whimsical and says that I’m a writer, what sort of thing I write, that I teach Kung Fu and that I’m a motorcyclist and animal lover. Quite a lot of info in a very small space. Hopefully there’s enough there for people decide if they want to follow me or not. It’s really not that hard to have a decent bio.

When I’m checking to see if I’m going to follow someone back I’ll make the decision based on what’s in there. If the person sounds interesting, especially if they have an interest in writing, martial arts or motorcycles, I’ll most likely follow back. They have that one short paragraph to sell themselves to me, just like the back cover of a book.

Here’s a few things that’ll guarantee that I won’t follow you back:

No bio – You’re probably a robot. Or a whore. Or a robot whore. Not interested.

Listing your religion – I’m not interested in anyone that defines themselves to others by their belief system.

Implying your religion – If your bio says something like “To God Be The Glory” then that tells me all I need to know about you. Not interested.

Selling – A bio that reads something like, “The best marketing strategy book on the market today! Click Here!” Fuck off. If you turned out to be an interesting guy I might have bought your book. But as you slap me upside the ear with it on our first encounter, you deserve a virtual door slammed in your face. This applies to all aspects of selling, be it services, products or anything else. Twitter is a social network. Chat about things, share interesting info and you might get a sale later. Put something about yourself in the bio and drop a few sales pitches in among your tweets. That’s how you does it!

No picture – I don’t know why exactly, but this just bugs me. It doesn’t even have to be a picture of you. An icon or graphic will do.

Company logo picture – Here’s where I’d prefer no picture. You’re obviously on the hard sell. Not interested.

There are lots more examples but I’m sure you get the idea. Also, making a really long post about Twitter seems somehow wrong. And this post is long enough already.

I really enjoy the interaction on Twitter. Certainly, it’s one of the ways that I build up my author platform and I use it to spread information about my books and other writing. Hopefully it helps me sell a few books. But I actually enjoy sharing interesting links with people and seeing what interesting links other people post. I have a laugh from time to time joking with people I’ve never met (and almost certainly never will) about all kinds of subjects. There’s so much to be gained from this kind of social network, so don’t blow it immediately with a poor “back cover blurb”.

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