How Twitter bios can help you find your audience
Columnist Chris Kerns takes a deep dive into the profile descriptions for millions of Twitter users to bring you insight into why you need to look beyond just tweets to target your audience.
Social media is as much about sharing information as expressing a certain kind of image to the rest of the world. Being able to choose the moments we want to share (and leave out the ones we’d rather not) gives users the ability to curate a public perception — a mix of who we really are and who we want to be.
But these self-identifying labels are not just in messages; they’re also in our profile descriptions. Some people choose to list their job, others an allegiance to a favorite sports team. By looking at profile descriptions for millions of Twitter users, we can see some interesting patterns emerge about how groups of people describe themselves.
We looked at over 4 million Twitter profiles across different European countries (Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the UK) to discover patterns around language usage and labels. We analyzed all terms in their native language, with the results being translated back into English for the results you see below.
Note: This study was part of the our Smart Social Report Volume 5 (registration required). This volume looked at the data behind over 100 top brands in social media, Facebook Reactions usage, summer blockbusters, link headlines, and Twitter profiles in Europe.
Top profile terms by country
When we look at the top 10 profile terms by country, some interesting patterns from each location emerge.
Love: In every country, the words “love” and/or “lover” appear in the top 10. (In three countries, “love” takes the No. 1 spot.) But it’s not what you might think — the word is usually used to describe a user’s passion around something (music, sports team, travel, etc.) and not an amorous reference.
Location or Nationality: Twitter users mention their home cities with high frequency in every country in the study. Countries or nationalities (“German”, “French”) were in the top 10 for every country except for Spain.
Music: A love of music made the top 10 in every country, with Germany at the top.
Additional Social Channels: Links to a user’s Instagram account appeared in the top 10 for every country, while Snapchat only appeared in French Twitter profiles (but came in at the No. 1 spot).
Beyond just the top terms, we looked at collections of words and phrases in certain categories.
The UK is the top country for people sharing their profession in their profile, with more than double the mentions of the next-closest country, Spain.
Twitter users in Germany are most likely to share their love of travel, with almost 4 percent of Twitter profiles including some reference to roaming across the globe.
Spain is the top country where users share their love of playing sports or a sports team (like Real Madrid), followed closely by the UK.
Spain also sees top marks in Europe for sharing references to religion, although the country comes nowhere close to the United States in that department (where users share that information about three times as much as Spain).
When you’re targeting, know how each audience does social
Looking at profile data can give us a good view of how different cultures use social media, but more importantly, as a marketer, you need to understand local cultural patterns when you’re leveraging data to target your audience.
Make sure you’re looking beyond just what people are posting and into the details of how they see themselves. Profile data, accounts users follow, and influencers they reach out to can tell the story behind the story, and help you find new (and hopefully more responsive) crowds to engage with.