Ian Philpot


Last week, I gave a group of artists a full introduction to Twitter along with some recommended best practices. At one point in the conversation, I pulled up my Twitter profile and explained why everything is the way it is. In that moment, I realized something: I take my profile so seriously because I judge the profiles of others.

So I’ve decided to make a list of the four things I see (or judge) when I look at your Twitter profile.

1. Pictures

Is your profile picture or cover image set to the default? If so, then how do I know you’re taking this Twitter thing seriously? If you haven’t changed them from the default, stop reading and do it now.

In the same way, is your profile picture you? Good. If it’s not, make it you. Your pet/favorite sports team is great, but they should not be the visual representation for your 140 character messages.

Tip: Make your profile picture a selfie from a day you went downtown at a big city. Make your cover image a panorama shot of your family or of nature. (Here are some awesome examples of cover photos done right.)

2. Bio

The number of people who ignore their bio is appalling. If you’re never sure what to put in those things, take 30 seconds and make a list of the nouns that describe you and the things you do because those are the two topics you’ll tweet about the most and people will get a handle on if they want to follow you based on that information.

Tip: Write your bio in third-person and start with your full name. This will help search engines return your Twitter account as a result when people google you.

3. Tweet count

I judge this number based on two things: the frequency of the last three tweets and the length of time since the Twitter account was created.

If you’ve sent 20,000 tweets and tweeted three times in the last 5 minutes, I’m going to be a little wary of following you because you may be over-sharing.

If you’ve only sent out 100 tweets over the last three years and your last tweet was sent two months ago, I’m not going to follow you because I don’t know if you’re going to leave your account dormant or just use it to enter random online contests.

Find a good rhythm for your tweets to keep from over-sharing and under-sharing.

Tip: Use Buffer to keep your content going out at a steady pace.

4. Following count

Just like tweet count, there’s a sweet spot for the number of people you’re following.

If you’re not following enough people, it may look like you’re not active. In this case, consider following your favorite authors, local politicians, or anyone sharing good content. Here are some suggestions: @DonaldMiller@Schwarzenegger@LifeHacker.

If you’re following too many people, it’s obvious that you don’t care who you follow (and you’re likely just following them to grow your follower count—not cool). Find a sweet spot in the number of people you can keep track of in your news feed—for me, it’s between 150–200 people.

Tip: Try to maintain a good Following:Follower ratio. If you’re new to Twitter, don’t worry so much about this. If you’ve been on the network for a year or two, your goal should be to get as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible. If you get to 1:2 or better, you’re doing it right.