social media bio
Image by Aurimas via Flickr CC by ND 2.0

6 Questions Your Social Media Bio Should Help Answer

Your social media bio is like a business card: a quick, pithy way to show your new audience what you’re all about. Previously, we have discussed the general rules for setting up social media bios, as well as special considerations for each of the major social networks. Now, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.

Composing your bio is one of the first steps in setting up a new social media account. It’s also something worth revisiting on many occasions, such as your brand’s pivot in positioning, a career change, or a newly acquired skill or work experience.

Whether you run a business yourself or belong to a larger team, your personal and professional brand is constantly evolving. Updating your social media bio helps inform your followers about the latest change, and properly introduce your brand to new followers.

Each bio description is unique to the user, so instead of telling you how to fill out your ‘About Me’ section, we’ve come up with six questions your social media bio should answer in order to accurately represent your brand.

6 questions your social media bio should answer

Who are you?

All your social media bios should include your most commonly used name. This may seem like Social Media 101 material, but it’s surprising how many people (and businesses!) don’t keep their brand consistent across different channels. For your personal social profiles, be especially careful if you have a preferred name that’s different from your full name (eg. “Alex” instead of “Alexandra”): in this case, use the name that would be most familiar to your online audience. If you have a common first and last name combination, make sure the rest of your bio description has a unique identifier that helps people find the right account.

social media bio - common name.jpg

For businesses, be clear in distinguishing your main engagement accounts from other official accounts you may have. For example, if your organization has several departments active on social media, or uses social media for customer service, you should create separate account names and @handles, and make sure that the different purposes for each account are reflected in the bio. We use @Hootsuite as our main engagement and content promotion channel, and @Hootsuite_Help for any customer concerns. The latter’s main goal is also reflected in the name: Hootsuite Helpers.

Finally, if you’re part of an international organization with branches in many countries, use your social media bio to help you explain where you’re located and which audiences you serve. Starbucks does this with their regional accounts:

Starbucks Canada social media bio.jpg     Starbucks UK social media bio.jpg

Where do you work?

With social media bios, the rule of thumb is aim to inform, not impress; hopefully, the latter can be accomplished with the content of your messaging.

When it comes to personal accounts, it’s considered a best practice to include the name or official handle of your employer on your public-facing profiles. This will help make your profile more discoverable for anyone who wants to reach out online, and give a sneak peek of your resume. Some users choose to include their past affiliations; but before you do this on any social network other than LinkedIn (which effectively acts as a resume) or Facebook (which asks you to fill these fields in), ask yourself if this is the best way to describe your skills and interests to your online audience. You may hold certifications from acclaimed institutions, but if they don’t provide any useful information about your current occupation, it may be best to exclude them.

For brand profiles, social media bios are a good channel to roll out your new positioning. If you’re part of a new team or starting your own business, chances are, the focus of your products and services will change in time to better accommodate the needs of your customers. Make sure your bio description reflects these changes.

HootSuite follows around 1.4 million people on Twitter, but that's still only around one quarter of our follower-base.

Social Media Profiles - Twitter Bio

Hootsuite’s Twitter bio description has evolved over time to match our current messaging.

What do you do?

You may be wondering how this is different from the question above, and you’re not the only one: many people take this as a call to include their job title in their social media bio, but this doesn’t have to be copied right out of your staff directory. If Hillary Clinton can identify herself as a “pantsuit aficionado” while running for President of the United States, surely you can think of something more descriptive to put in your profile!

Hillary Clinton social media bio.jpg

Take this as an opportunity to talk about your hobbies or passions outside of work, or any volunteer work you do and causes you support—anything to show off how multifaceted you are as an individual. For example, Arianna Huffington’s LinkedIn summary includes “sleep evangelist” as one of the titles she holds, along with editor-in-chief, mother, and flat-shoe advocate (do I spot a trend here?). This dovetails nicely with her recent Influencer posts about time affluence, and diversifies her own personal brand to include something beyond the job title.

social media bio Arianna Huffington.jpg

Brands can use their social media bios as an opportunity to highlight company values or talk about their mission. Sure, BuzzSumo may be a tool for discovering trending content and influencers, but how are they planning to make the world a better place? Their social media bio makes it clear from the get-go:

BuzzSumo social media bio.jpg

Or take Etsy, an e-commerce website that specializes in handmade goods. Their Pinterest bio makes it clear what part of Etsy’s work the company sees as most important:

etsy pinterest social media bio.jpg

In short, don’t just show where you work, show what you do—whether this occurs on the clock or in your spare time.

What topics interest you?

Let your audience have a taste of the subjects you will be discussing. This serves two purposes: it attracts like-minded individuals to check out your social channel, and it also helps you increase the potential reach of your profile by including certain keywords in your social media bio.

Showing off your interests gives you an opportunity to stand out from other people with similar job descriptions: there may be a lot of comedians on Twitter, but how many of them are self-proclaimed pasta lovers?

Hobbies may not be the deciding factor for whether or not to follow your account, but they tease the general tone of your social messaging. Which brings me to the next question…

What tone do you use in your social media messaging?

Your social media bio is the first written thing someone sees when they visit your profile. So, just as your cover photo and profile picture represent your personal or professional brand visually, your bio description can encapsulate the overall tone of your messages. Do they go straight to the point and aim to educate? Do you share a lot of cat pictures? Do you make a point of tweeting a joke or two every day? The way you structure your bio description—whether it’s written as single-word descriptions, in full sentences, or uses slang—can give your followers a taste for what to expect from your posts.

You should also keep in mind the main goal of your profile on each social network, and adjust the tone of your bio to match the content. For example, a LinkedIn profile may benefit from a more serious tone than your Instagram bio.

How can I get in touch with you, or get to know you better?

To make the most of your social media bio, include a call to action of sorts: links to external sources that can give your new connections more insight into your work. It can be an email address to reach out to you by means more personal than a direct message, or a link to your official website or official blog.

SEMRush FB social media bio.jpg

You can also tailor the calls to actions to the specific mission statements of your social network accounts. As seen above, SEMrush’s Facebook Page encourages people to visit their official website to learn more about the company, but their Twitter bio promotes a weekly chat on topics relevant to the industry.

SEMrush Twitter social media bio.jpg

Be mindful of balancing the amount of times you promote an external web resource on your social media bio. For example, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all have a special field dedicated to your website URL if you choose to include one. This means you can use the description area itself to promote something else—your blog, for example. Choose which online properties would best benefit from increased traffic, and include a CTA for those sites.

What kind of information do you include in your social media bio? Is there anything you look for that we missed? Share your opinion in the comments below!