There’s a case to be made for keeping your profile picture the same over the years, even if it means it’s not always up to date. The Founder and CEO of Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover, keeps his profile picture the same, saying, “On Twitter, your @username is secondary to your profile pic. People recognize you by your avatar. Once changed, followers need to re-associate the new photo with your person.”
While the safest bet is to use a photo of yourself, some people opt for cartoon avatars or an illustration.
This practice is more common if you’re already well known. Here are a few examples:
Kim-Mai Cutler, a Partner at Initialized Capital and a Contributor at Tech Crunch.
Hunter Walk, a Partner at Homebrew.
Brad Feld, a venture capitalist at Foundry Club.
It’s also common to use an illustrated avatar if you’re demonstrating an affiliation with a well known company.
Notion employees use avatars in the same style:
New Yorker employees also have illustrated profile pictures in matching style:
If you don’t fall into one of these two categories, and your goal is to help people get to know you, it’s probably best to use a photo of yourself.
Your Twitter bio serves to give people a reason to follow you. It’s common to mention where you currently work and where you’ve worked in the past. You can list these companies in plain text or, if the company you work for is lesser known, @mention them. In most cases, it’s a good idea to give people a sneak peek on the kind of tweets they might expect if they were to follow you.
caution Try not to be self-aggrandizing—watch out for words that make people cringe: “thought leader,” “provocateur,” “innovator,” or “contrarian.” Often a one-liner on the type of work you do and what interests you will be more effective than those cliches. Use the link section of your bio to link to your company’s website, personal website, online portfolio (i.e. Dribbble), or your newsletter subscription page.
A Twitter bio can signal which professional community you belong to or the corner of Twitter you inhabit (like “Design Twitter” (#designtwitter), “History Twitter (#twitterstorians),” or “Black Tech Twitter” (#BlackTechTwitter). Different corners of Twitter or Twitter “communities” have different Twitter bio conventions, for example: