Practical Ecommerce

Tips for an Effective Twitter Profile

Twitter can help ecommerce merchants. It provides a conduit to connect with their customers and communicate with prospects. Merchants should be careful, however, when using Twitter to market their products, and I addressed that in “4 Rules for Marketing on Twitter.”

And seemingly minor issues, such as creating a Twitter profile, can impact a merchant’s effectiveness. Here are some tips to consider when setting up your Twitter profile, addressing the following areas: Twitter bio, avatar (photo), username and background graphic.

Twitter Bio

Be sure to always include the following information in your bio:

  • Name. Your name or your company name.
  • Location. Even if your business is virtual, adding the city and state where you are physically located increases trust and builds credibility.
  • Links. Link to your website, Facebook page, blog or other web address. Remember, Twitter is the front door. Including this link increases the opportunity to further the relationship and bring traffic to your site.
  • Short description. Talk about brevity, Twitter stays true to form and only allows 160 characters worth of information. “Pithy” is the order of the day, but “cutesy” is not. Get across the essentials of who you are and what you do.

Avatar (Photo)

If you are creating a personal account, use a headshot as your avatar. You only have 60 x 60 pixels of space, so make the most of it. Your photo can and should be more casual, even candid. Reserve the posed, business attire photos for LinkedIn. If it is a company account, use your logo.

Username

When I started using Twitter in early 2007, it was still in its infancy. There was not a lot of precedent at that time for how things should be done. When setting up my account, there was a field that asked for a username. I normally use “pchaney,” and that’s what I did there, as well.

However, I didn’t understand that it is far more than a merely a username. Similar to how truckers might use their CB radios, it is your “handle” and is how other Twitter users will come to know you. As such, for personal accounts, I advise that you use your first and last name when possible. For business accounts, use the company name. Twitter allows just 15 characters, so you may have to experiment with different options.

Background Graphic

You may want to incorporate a custom background that contains a larger version of your logo, plus other relevant information, including additional ways to contact you, such as your phone number, email address and links to other social networks where you have a presence.

Here is an example of custom Twitter background from Classic Gold Pecans, a seller of pecans and pecan products. This background contains the types of information to which I refer.

The left-hand column includes a larger representation of the company’s logo, along with a phone number and the physical address. The right-hand column contains all the biographical profile information I suggested above. Classic Golden Pecans uses an attractive custom background and the company logo as the avatar.

Due to Twitter’s character constraints, one thing Classic Golden Pecans was unable to do is use the entire company name for its username. It chose “goldenpecans” as a compromise.

Twitter Profile Don’ts

I just gave you a list of items to include in your Twitter profile. Here are two things not to do.

  • Don’t protect your updates. One thing you don’t want to do is protect your updates, an option in the account information section that, essentially, makes your Twitter profile private. Taking such action defies the very reason for participating in Twitter in the first place. I’m sure those who choose this option are well intended. But I don’t see the rationale where business use is concerned. It is a sign that says “keep out,” not one that welcomes users in.

  • Don’t include numbers in your username. This may seem minor, but incorporating numbers into the username is a tool often used by Twitter spammers (not to mention that it resembles an old AOL email address), and you do not want to be perceived in that manner.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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  1. Aline Machado November 2, 2010 Reply

    Great tips! I wish Twitter would give more space for the company name, I also had to shorten my company name to BellaBellaB (for Bella Bella Boutique), I had to put the initicial B for the Boutique, I was not happy but I think it was the best I could do.
    Do you have any tips for the new Twitter profile style? Which btw I don’t like at all, it’s too busy. What are your feedback on it?

  2. Paul Chaney November 2, 2010 Reply

    I’m with your there. The example used above, Classic Golden Pecans, has to be shortened on both the handle, goldenpecans, and the company name itself, to Classic Golden Pecan (no "s"). Definitely something that should be addressed IMO.

    I’m not a big fan of the new style, but I understand that they’re trying to compete with the likes of Tweetdeck and others. However, it completely screws up custom backgrounds.

    As to how to style the new background, here is a good article on design specifications: http://www.webdesignshock.com/freebies/new-twitter-design-guidelines-and-free-psd-layouts/

    The new backgrounds will have to function more more like, well, backgrounds. Branded backgrounds that is. The room for providing a left-column focus area is all but gone.

    I’m going to write an article on the topic soon and provide some examples.

  3. Aline Machado November 2, 2010 Reply

    Thank you so much Paul!

  4. Lorraine Pierce November 2, 2010 Reply

    Great info. Just made a few changes to my profile. I’m not sure that I agree with using a logo though. I see Twitter as a way to personalize my relationship with my customers or potential ones. A company logo as the avatar seems less personal. But then I have my entire biz name as my user name, LAminerals, so a button with the name on it would be in a way repetitive.