Thoughts, on Twitter Bio’s.

Disclaimer.  If you’re here for a fast fix, a Twitter Bio-101 so to speak, then move along – that’s simply not my style.  If you want to draw up a leisurely chair, and maybe even chuckle while you gain my insights, read on.  Furthermore, I’m a complete newbie in social media, and fully intend to remain that way – so be warned, all you’ll get here is my deceptive honesty.  For a much more polite article on good behaviour in the Twitterverse, head on over to Twit Cleaner, I recommend them (for what little that means :))!

I’ve spent the last couple of days on Twitter, seeking an audience – the “hard” way.  Are there easier ways?  Personally, I doubt it.  Sure, there are a ton of people trying to sell you followers, along with multiple add-ons offering you selection and fine control.  While I have nothing against the latter, the former are highly questionable.  It might just be me (it often is, actually), however I’m tending toward opposition to human trafficking.  What’s that you say? Those followers are just spam-bots, not real people?  Well, if I’d known that before… (I might have destroyed my credibility even faster than I am on my own…)

Enough rambling, already!  This post details my thoughts, captured as I subjected myself to the cruel and unusual punishment of “finding followers”.  Call me Stupid, (my wife often does, so you’re in excellent company), but I figured out the best way to find people with whom I wish to interact (AKA, those who’ll succumb to the imminent, impending hard sell!) would be to seek them on Twitter.  My limited capacity, model ’60, imagination could come up with no better strategy than reading their Twitter Biographies.

How to begin, then?  Well, I cheated (shhhhhh!, I don’t want my wife to hear) – I selected a few interesting looking Tweeters, (avoiding the “famous” like the plague),  clicked their links, hit their home profiles, and scanned their most recent tweets.  If they were tweeting things I found interesting, I noted their names.  If they were spouting nonsense, (AKA constant advertisements hidden within compressed URLs), I moved on.  Soon enough, a few hours, no more than a day, or two, (wait, what day is this again?), and I had my “source”.

If you’re squeamish, stop reading now – for the depth of my wickedness is about to be revealed.  Yes, it’s true – it was me… I started stealing, pillaging, robbing, thieving, looting, and poaching their followers!  The thrill of this was almost more than I could bear!  Lists, that had taken them eons to build, I ransacked in seconds!  Oh, the glorious subterfuge.  Wait just one second here, I strive to be honest, (not because honesty is the best policy, which it is, but because I’ll be caught if I diverge from truth’s path), did I say “in seconds”?  If I did, which I’m not admitting… well, then consider that a slight exaggeration (slight, in political terms, means five trillion – therefore my exaggeration was slight, to the point of insignificance).  So it took me about thirty hours, anyone counting?  Certainly not me…

Let me tell you, reading twitter bio’s for thirty hours is about as much fun as having an unpeeled pineapple rubbed in your face (no wonder my eyes are burning – it’s got nothing to do with my inner demons, I swear).  I can’t recommend it strongly enough!  Do it, and find out for yourself.  Not only will you soon learn exactly what type of people you’re looking for, but you’ll learn how to stifle that gag reflex when you read the truly terrible bio’s.

And now, without further delay, here’s my list of do’s and don’ts for Twitter Biographies.  Since I’m an acknowledged Negative, the list of don’ts far exceeds the Positive (did that come out right, it hurts my mouth to form that word).  For the like-minded, don’t worry, I’ll get to the bad stuff as fast as I can.

Turn-On’s – if these factors are in your bio… Good job!

Re-Tweeters –  Very compelling, but only if my message might be what your followers are looking for.  Lets face it, if your niche is crushed pomegranate pips, well your followers really won’t be interested in my brand of snake oil, namely moral philosophy couched as fantasy.

You’ll listen –  Thank you.  However, I hope you’ll also talk, then we’ll have great conversations together.

A tantalizing hint of something I seek – and I’m hooked.  Likely, this will be something about you (no, no, no! well yes, 36-24-36, is exactly what I didn’t mean).

Something I strongly identify with – Snag!  Works every time – individual results may vary…  And precisely how do you know what I identify with?  You don’t, so be honest and speak of yourself, and you’ll attract the right kind of people for you (if you’re unlucky, I might be one of them).

A clever *original* play on words –  I’m a sucker for them, I’ll almost always flick that blasted follow button – even if I have nothing in common with @whoever. Here’s a perfect example, Marisa Michelle and yes, I am following her.

Bottom-line –  Fill up those 160 characters with real words about who you think you are or would like to be, and what you’ve seen on your journey so far.  In simple English, a tasty snippet of your soul is the soup we all crave. What could be easier?

Turn-off’s – if these are in your bio, especially if they’re at its start… well, I’m probably not following you.

In vague order from most obnoxious, to most trivial.  This is the good stuff, the bad stuff that is, for us negatives, keep your mitts off my half-full glass types…

Threats – threaten to unfollow me if I unfollow you… Who cares?  I promise it isn’t me, and I guarantee I won’t be clicking you to find out more.  To me, your bio screams something like this “Complete loser, except to people interested only in large, meaningless numbers.”  (five trillion, anyone?)

Boasts –  Any shape or form, ranging from how wonderful you think you are, down to a list of “credentials” intended to make you seem important.  I’m not interested in what you claim to have done, rewards you claim to have received, or who you claim has endorsed you.  (Notice the trendy word there?  It was claim.) This is the internet – there are no laws here, and many liars (sneaks a quick glimpse at the mirror, nope, my honest face is still on).  Simply because you say it on the Internet, doesn’t make it true.

L33t-5p3ak –  Communication should be easy.  Forcing me to mentally decode whatever clever message you’re trying to convey… well, it’s a smart way to make me skip you.  Use it in your posts if you must, but avoid it in your bio – unless you want to keep potential listeners away.

Poor Grammar –  Yes, I might be one of them – the many, many, who value the slightest hint of a fundamental understanding of rudimentary grammar.  In your Tweets you can type fast and ignore those pesky niceties.  Don’t do it in your bio – first impressions do count.  On Twitter your bio is your first impression, make the most of it.

Claiming Copyright on your Tweets –  If, indeed, you wrote them, their copyright is implicitly yours.  Better yet, your tweets are recorded and timestamped for posterity by Twitter.  Yes, people will steal them, corrupt them, and republish them as their own – there’s little we can do about that sort of scumbag.  You gain little by claiming copyright in your bio – anyone can read your Tweets without ever reading your bio, so to effectively assert copyright you’d have to preface every single Tweet with such an assertion. Good luck finding room for that in a 140 character Tweet, of course you could try using the copyright symbol ©, I think that would be pretty annoying though.  So, instead of gaining something, you alienate me from reading your Tweets.  Since I’m here to converse, I won’t waste my time engaging with someone who clearly doesn’t want to speak with me – they only want to talk at me.  Would you choose to remain in a conversation with a colleague who prefaced everything they said with, “Don’t repeat this without attributing it to me…”?  Twitter, is about choice.  I choose no.  By the way, before you copy and paste from this post, look up in the top right corner of this page, yep, that’s an assertion of copyright all right – but this is my blog, not a Twitter bio.

An animated GIF as your avatar –  Yes, you’re very clever, making those little monstrosities is time consuming, and you really, really want to show off your amazing skills.  Unfortunately, here’s the downside… I’m a primitive man, if your avatar blinks at me or moves – my first instinct is to kill it, and I do. {Update, I just unfollowed a user whose posts had a blinking avatar.  I liked their content, but the constant “look at me, look at me” demand of their avatar for attention broke this camel’s back.}

I Follow Back –  Impressive, tempting, but un-combined with some gem about you – not compelling.

Nothing but a hyperlink –  If you say nothing about yourself in your bio, why would I be tempted to click your link?  It’s not like I’m paranoid enough, now you want me unwrapping “gifts” provocatively encased in blue? (hehe, that isn’t a link, but by all means keep on clicking it…)

Superlatives in your description of self –  Blowing your own trumpet…  Classy, very classy [not].

A blank bio – I’m a skeptic by nature, this makes me think you… aren’t.  I know Twitter is full of bots, but I can’t imagine a bot smart enough to write an effective bio – steal one, sure, but within no time it’ll be on every other bot bio.  Therefore, what a blank bio tells me is that you’re a bot.  Move along, nothing to see there.

A sales pitch – Whew, and I was just starting to worry about the dearth of advertising on the internet, yours is like a breath of fresh air.  Tell me about yourself, not your product.

Outrageous claims –  Save them for your sales pitch posts, which will only come after I choose to follow you, which I won’t be doing since I’m pretty sure they will be disposable spam, which I don’t want.  Oh, and by the way, where’s the disclaimer?  Shouldn’t  advertising be honest, at least superficially?

We – I’m interested in communicating with individuals – if there’s more than one of you, then each of you should have your own account.

I am @unknown – Terrible way to introduce yourself, even in the “real world”.  I don’t want to know your name, I want to know something about you, and how you might hold an interest for me.  Names can come later, after we’ve sized each other up.

The next points, well they’re about the pointless…

Where you live –  This is the Virtual World… we’re right here, together, in your browser – lean closer and you’ll hear me, look closer and you can read me.  What does place matter, unless you’re dropping names to impress me, in which case read the article again, paying special attention to the topic entitled “Boasts“.

Unnecessary greetings –  As I zoom past your bio, I’m thinking “Who is that strange person talking to, cause it certainly isn’t me.”

Complaints, about the horrific limitations of 160 characters – With space so tight, why are you wasting so much of it complaining?  The good news is that if you manage to squeeze in at least one interesting thing, I might still follow you.

Other things I already know I don’t like…

TrueTwit validation –  I don’t think I’m a twit, so clearly you must be talking about yourself.  I won’t respond to these, ever.  In fact, I immediately delete the email heralding how some self-proclaimed twit demands my undivided attention.  In this, I’m certain I’m a lot more generous than most, who I suspect will unfollow instantly.  However, my generosity established and cast aside, your name will stick in my mind… That’s a bad thing, since I’ll be extra critical of your first tweets, with an itchy unfollow finger waiting eagerly to dispatch you to virtual oblivion.

DM’s from follow bots – Very irritating, they almost compel me to hit unfollow.  I don’t mind actual DM’s from real people composed directly to me, though I would much prefer they simply Tweeted their message.  Twitter is an open forum, say what you think out loud, don’t whisper it. (Yes, I know about private accounts, and have followed a few – but those days, hours, minutes, seconds, all five trillion of them, are rapidly coming to an end.)  Believe it or not, I received an autofollow DM trying to sell me fake watches (or “replica watches & jewelry”,  as he termed it).  Not surprised?  How about if I mentioned this garbage purveyor’s bio proudly proclaimed, “Doing Life God’s Way!”?  Which god might that be? The god of Avarice, perhaps?  Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to click “unfollow”.

DMs – yep, I’m already beginning to dislike these obnoxious little whispers, they are so overwhelmingly banal.  Did I say I don’t mind DMs?  I’ve changed my mind.  Perhaps the first Twitter add-on I’ll look for will be something to eliminate them,  then unfollow their sender.  But that’s just me being private and paranoid, in an open virtual world.

{Update on DM’s} – paranoia proven true… On 10/15/12 my paranoia saved me from two DM transmitted scumware attacks.  Links which attempted to redirect me to (1) a fake facebook site, and (2) a fake twitter site named “twivvter dot com” (please don’t succumb to curiosity and visit it). Both did a fine job of acting like my internet connection had been interupted, then attempted to trick me into revalidating – which would have given some worthless piece of human flesh control of my accounts.  Please be very careful, if it happened to me on the third or fourth day I actually started “using” Twitter, it is very likely to happen to you. An example of the actual attack attempt email appears below, names obliterated to save innocents embarassment.

Please don’t visit that compressed url, it’ll take you to this…

Looks pretty real, doesn’t it? Oh, and a further warning – my Firefox is locked down pretty tight, it blocked a script before this site popped up. My recommendation? If you ever see this nasty, nasty copyright violating website, close down all browser sessions, and scan your computer for scumware – by the time you see the picture scripts may have compromised your browser.

{A little slam here} – as Twitter’s complaint submission form requires submission of the offending tweet’s hyperlink, they give us no way to report these attacks. As far as I can find, DMs don’t have hyperlinks – which means you can’t actually report them.  (Recall my newbie status? I hope I’m wrong on this point, in which case I’ll be glad to fix this error.) It would be trival for Twitter to include a “Report Attack” button on the DM dialog, and equally trivial to scan submitted links for browser redirection attempts and immediately place a lock on the account of “offenders”.  That would protect real people, since the sender is quite likely to be unaware they’ve been “hacked” –  in the case of the DMs I received, I’m convinced of that.

And now, the things I secretly like in a Bio, though I’ll never admit them to my wife…

An interesting avatar – Sure, they’re needless eye candy.  I like candy, what, you don’t? {Don’t believe me? Look at the eye candy I created, embedded in this – but be warned, keep it away from your eyeballs {not responsible to multiple perforations}.}

A feminine name – Opposites really do attract.  Since I’m a man, my eye is drawn to feminine names much faster than it is to masculine ones.  That is the plain, unadorned truth, and no – I have no idea how it manages, but trust me, it does.  Obviously if this is real, {not the normal raving of my insane mind}, then feminine eyes should be drawn to masculine names {assuming a heterosexual preference}, I’d love to hear what you think about this.

Positive Tone – In every honest evaluation I’ve made of my own character, no matter how much I feign optimism, I’m a skeptic.  My root nature is negative, I’m an aging man, long past his prime, recently past self-deceit, and ultimately reconciled that I’m not Positive.  I’m ashamed, (well of course I am, silly, I’m a negative person).  Once again, the opposites attract rule holds true – upbeat, positive biographies attract me far more than down in the dumps self-pity.  I’m really hoping some of that positivity will rub off on me (nah, that’s an outright lie :)), though I do enjoy reading upbeat posts as much as downbeat.

A Victim – to my charms, and more importantly, the goods I’m trying to purvey.  What might those goods be?  Well, perhaps “goods” isn’t the right choice of wording – indeed some might better term them “awfuls”.  They’re my words, of course – I’m trying to gain an audience for my words… some of them are even in book form, and no I’m not going to make this easy for you – you’ll have to visit my website to learn more.  {Wait a moment, why you’re already here! Why not browse around, and laugh – at me, or with me, your choice.}

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, perhaps we can meet up on twitter and chat, or if you’d like a glimpse into the thoughts I hold most dear, in reverse chronological order, well – head on over to “[Tweets]“.  If not… well, I’m delighted to have wasted your time 🙂

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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4 Responses to Thoughts, on Twitter Bio’s.

  1. After reading what you like and dislike, I’m even more honored that you selected me as a person to follow on twitter.

    As for the scan through my list of followers, I’m sure you found it very eclectic. I’m just as sure you found some really great tweeps.

    Truetwit is not unlike Captcha…and is for those of a suspicious nature…that wish to make sure the person following them is not a spam bot.

    Location…well that is more of what comes from when people fill out their twitter profile.

    Mostly though, I agree with your assessment of twitter bios.

    Wishing you fun in discovering more twitter bios. 🙂


  2. Hi. I must admit I was a little dismayed to hear about DM updates that hijack your account. I haven’t had one so far.
    And I think you’re right about opposite sexes attracting, although I tend to tweet more with women. Sometimes we get a little silly. Amongst women it’s okay, but a man might misinterpret.
    And I’m a little shy so don’t be offended if I don’t tweet to you. I’m also lousy at small talk.
    But I’d be happy to tweet with you if we have something to talk about.
    Thank you for following.
    I hope you have a good time on twitter. Depending on your interests, there’s all kinds of experts on everything and many people who just do things as a hobby.
    The main thing, as you say, is that it’s a social media. There are so few backyard fences anymore, and even if you have one, you may not have anything in common with your neighbour.
    But twitter can bring you close to people all over the world.
    So have a good time. 🙂

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