The 10 Elements of a Successful Social Media Profile

When it comes to online personal or business branding, the creation of social media profiles is absolutely essential. Whether you are just trying to get more exposure online, connect with your fans or customers, or working to purify your online reputation, social networking profiles are the way to go as they will rank highly in search engine results when people search for your name.

I want you to think of each social media profile you create as a landing page for your brand. This landing page is possibly the first encounter that someone is going to have with your brand, and you will want that first impression to be golden and make the visitor want to know more about you.

Here are the 10 elements you need to follow to create a successful social media profile:

Element #1: Your Name

For a while, I thought that your username, or the name that usually shows up in the URL (such as http://twitter.com/kikolani) was extremely important in getting your profile to rank in search results. I found, however, that unlike usual website SEO that says that the URL counts in ranking, the real ranking for social media profiles happens with your name. So be sure to enter the name you want to be found under.

Element #2: Your Username

So where does the username come into play? Some people who can’t find your social media links may just assume it is something obvious and type it in directly. Think about what people would search you under, and make sure that is your username that is included in the URL. Be sure to think of brand dominance when it comes to this part, otherwise you’ll end up like…

Apple's Profile on Twitter

microsoft's youtube profile

Not sure if your username is taken? Use KnowEm’s free tool to check your desired username across hundreds of social platforms.

Element #3: Your Profile Pic

There is great debate when it comes to profile photos / avatars on social networks in terms of whether you should go with your brand logo or the face of a person.

My usual thought is that if you are a big enough brand or business with a well-recognized logo, definitely go with the logo. If you’re building a personal brand or you are a public figure like a blogger, politician, musician, artist, etc., go with the personal picture. People are more likely to want to engage with a person than a brand logo.

Once you have selected your default photo, be sure to stick with the same picture as your default photo from one network to the next, that way people easily recognize you across all social networks.

Another thing that helps in SEO value is naming your photo file appropriately before uploading it. Be sure you have named it yourname.jpg or yourbusiness.jpg as opposed to uploading IMG0153.jpg.

matt cutts google images

This might have some value, especially in image searches, which can be particularly important now that Google has incorporated the first few image search results in their main page of search results, as shown above. If someone searches you by name, you will want your image to come up, not someone else’s.

Element #4: Your Link

This varies from one social media network to the next, but be sure to seek out any opportunity to get your link on the main page of your social profile. For example, many people miss the fact they can add their link on their YouTube channel page, or in the box underneath their profile picture on Facebook. Make sure that your link is front and center so that people can find it quickly and click through to your website.

Another good idea for your links is to create a social network specific landing page so you can track which profiles are bringing your site the most traffic. You can use these pages to offer a special discount for people who have found you on Twitter, or share information that is specific to a network, like recent blog posts you have written about Facebook.

Also, on networks such as LinkedIn, be sure to customize your link’s anchor text by using the Other option instead of just using My Website, My Company, or My Blog.

Element #5: Your Bio

Your main social profile’s bio is usually just a sentence or two about yourself or your business. Think of it as a perfect place to put your elevator pitch and include your main keywords. I don’t mean in a salesy way, but just if someone were to ask you to tell them briefly what you or your business is about, what would you say?

Be sure to fill out your bio to its full potential. While some networks allow you to only have a limited amount of characters, others encourage more robust and lengthy bios. Take advantage of this to share only the best about yourself and your brand.

Element #6: Your Interests

Some profiles allow you to have additional extended information about yourself in the form of favorite books, television shows, movies, and so on. A lot of people skip over this, especially when it comes to business profiles, but that is a big mistake.

Look at these fields as an additional place to get some great keyword value. I doubt there is a niche out there that doesn’t have at least one or two published books. Find books, documentaries, and profiles of influential people in your industry and add those in these additional fields.

Element #7: Your Background

Although this one is limited to select networks, such as your Twitter and YouTube channel profiles, this is one to invest in for those networks that allow it. A customized background will allow you to share additional information that may not fit in the fields of your profile, as well as share additional links and icons to other networks so people know your brand can be found elsewhere.

Southwest Airlines Twitter Profile

Take a look at the following posts on how to customize backgrounds for the new Twitter design and YouTube channels.

Element #8: Your Privacy Settings

So after you have all of your profile filled out, pictures uploaded, and backgrounds designed, the next thing that you will need to take a look at are your privacy settings. These vary from network to network, but you will want to make sure that the information you would like to be public is viewable.

linkedin public profile privacy settings

I would suggest making sure your basic bio / summary, links to your main website, and default profile pic / avatar is available for everyone to see. This is especially important when you are looking to connect with others who may not necessarily recognize your name, but will recognize your photo or website affiliations.

Element #9: Your Activity

Once your profile setup is complete, your on-going mission will be to maintain a healthy level of activity on your main social networks, which for most will be Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These are three open ended yet important guidelines to follow on any network.

  • Don’t just add friends – engage with them!
  • Don’t just join groups – participate in them!
  • Don’t just post updates to update – think about what your connections want to see and share!

Element #10: Your Promotion

Finally, there is nothing like a little health promotion of your social network profiles to help more people find and connect with you, giving you more people to engage with! Be sure to add your social networking profile links to:

Also, don’t forget to interlink your profiles to each other. If you can share multiple links on a social profile, make sure some of those are to your main social profiles!

Your Essential Social Media Profile Tips

So these are just the basics – what other elements do you find essential to include in your social media profiles? Please share your tips in the comments!

About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.

  1. Nice article, Kristi.

    One thing if I will like you to explain a bit more is how to engage with friends. You said “Don’t just add friends – engage with them!”. Can you give me a practical example of that? Suppose you check your laptop and find 3 new people following on Twitter and 5 new people who ‘liked’ your page on Facebook. Are you saying that one should send them a “Hi”, or a any other welcome message? Or ask them if I can be of help, etc. ?

    Lastly, there are mainly two kinds of posting I see on social networks: i) People who don’t post comments or talk to other persons in their status or twitter updates, but only post article or news updates of their sites. ii) Other persons’ timeline is full of myriad conversations and messages with other people. One has to scan their timeline to see a useful status update about interesting link, comment, or review. Which kind do you suggest adds more value to one’s social appeal in the long run?

    • I think you have to do a mixture of sharing useful news with your followers as well as actually chatting with them.

      Looking at Twitter, depending on how many new followers you have on a daily basis, you may or may not be able to give them a little shoutout. Some people do a tweet that says “Hi to my new followers @username, @username, and @username” just as a friendly greeting.

      One thing I have been trying out is Formulists (http://formulists.com). It creates a list of your latest followers that you can follow in a Twitter management tool like HootSuite.

      I monitor several lists including that one, and what I look for is people asking questions or making updates that I can respond to in some form or fashion. You certainly can’t do that all day, but just doing it occasionally and replying to people directly really goes a long way in building a stronger relationship with your followers. And if others look at your stream and see that you have a mix of talking to people and sharing links, then they know you’re more than just a bot – you’re a real human that is interacting with others!

      I used to do mostly link sharing, minimal conversation. Now that I’m incorporating more conversation, I’m getting more retweets, responses, comments, etc. so I know that is working well.

      • You are right, perhaps a balance between posting links and conversations is the right path to follow.

      • Exactly Kristi and to piggy back of what you said, it’s really difficult to stay on top of everyone (twitter for example), so instead you should laser focus or target certain people you’d like to connect with.

      • Kristi,

        This is the most thought out and clearest explanation I have read on this topic- thank you. I literally am going step by step with each point you made and Im making the changes. To expand on Faisal’s point, how you manage and interact with your social networks can be overwhelming. I agree it should be a balancing act, but most of all it should be what you feel comfortable doing. I decided that my Facebook is private and my other networks are open. I only follow back people I think are interesting and so on…

  2. In expanding on point #3 – the social media avatar or photo can really make or break the initial introduction to a new audience.

    If you do decide to use a photo of yourself, make sure it’s a photo that best represents how you are seen by others. Your personal brand is very important and the last you want to hear from anyone is “You’re nothing like I thought you were,” when meeting people in person.

    If you don’t have a photo that fits this criteria- hiring a professional photographer is great investment.

    Excellent article – Thanks.

    • I completely agree. I have an avatar that needs to be updated myself, because when I went to the Blog World conference in Vegas, a lot of people didn’t recognize me because my hair is shorter now than it was in the picture! :)

      • It’s funny how people say things like, “oh I remember you from your avatar”, but that truly is the world we live in now.

    • Lol, that’s very true. Too often, even I have encountered instances where the people aren’t like they appeared online or whatever. You can easily go to a place and get some professional shots done for $20 or even less.

  3. But what about corporate fanpages/twitter pages ? Is #3 really helpful ?

    • I think it’s especially helpful for twitter/fan pages. You’re essentially building a brand that you want remembered and in most cases linked to you. Depending on your goals, it would definitely apply.

    • Depends on the corporation, but I’ve even seen companies have different logos from one profile to the next, or have a logo on one profile, person on the second, and a random image on a the third. The key is consistency, whether you use a logo or photo of yourself.

  4. [...] 10 Elements of a Successful Social Media Profile (tags: socialmedia brand-me howto) [...]

  5. Hi Kristi

    It is so important to get all these things right when first setting up a blog and a business. I am surprised at some of the avatars I see when bloggers tell me they are setting up a business!

    Having an up-to-date photo is also a must. I got recognised in a local cafe by another blogger! Visits my site and came had a chat. Also helped I was eating a lavender macaroon with my blog being about all things lavender lol

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • lol… it’s funny how things work that way, right? Who knows when and where you’ll meet a fan or supporter of you and your website.

  6. Great social tips Kristi!

    # Element 10: Your Promotion – email signature
    I highly recommend you to check out WiseStamp to get an easy and effective way to promote your social presence via every email you send!

    - http://www.wisestamp.com

    Josh @WiseStamp

  7. I was actually fortunate enough to meet Kristi at a conference, and she is an outstanding social media expert.

    Great post, I love these types of long posts that actually give me value, or give me something to go do after I read them.

    • She’s amazing and definitely knows her stuff right? I agree with you, posts that have content you apply right away are usually the best.

  8. Great pointers, though, would you really recommend a not-so-famous business using a personal display picture? This may get tricky if you have a bunch of guys starting out and the picture with all in it looks unprofessional.

  9. Recently I put up a business blog. I was actually searching for some tips. This helped a lot. Very Thabkful to you.

  10. Very nice articles but to be honest i have tried a lot of things and now im looking for help , can someone help me on that .I would like to have more followers on my twitter and i need some advices to attract more followers ,it is a website for positive attitude and thinking ,we are located in greece and the website is http://www.flowmagazine.gr
    the twitter username is @Flow_magazine .
    Thank you and wish to have a help pls

  11. Kisaky, I googled search a list of followers that were known to follow back. I tweaked the search until I finally got what I wanted.There was this long list and I worked on the list. Some of the followers had thosands of followers. I geuss somehow I was added to their feed and I’ve been getting lots of friend requests in my ebox since. One of the draw backs I think is that your ebox can get a bit crowded unless you frequently clean it out. Also, make sure you have a bit of time to spare to read each profile because you are searching for quality in your niche. And I would suggest friending a group at a time as to prevent a spam read. One other thing, I feel if someone follows me in my niche and after reading their profile; it’s only good networking sense to follow them back…Guys am I right or wrong here. I remember a few weeks ago just starting off I was excited to see so many gurus from my emailing list that had tons of followers but they only followed a hand full. Is that fair? People like to feel a return of appreciation and value. I even know of celebrities who will hire a staff to manage their tweet. “Just my two cents”…pardon any typos…I should be sleeping but I’m a bit addicted to the net (lol).

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