Changing your Twitter profile = creating a new identity


Yesterday I updated my Twitter profile after not having changed it for well over a year. The image and words are now:

Futurist/ Entrepreneur/ Keynote Speaker/ Author and contributor to global brain. A visual slice of my neural activity:

In my keynotes on social media and success in a connected world I tell the audience that how you are seen online IS your identity. In our social media profiles we can select just an image and a few words that many will use to form their views of you.

This means that we really should update our profiles regularly, both to express changes in who we are and how we want to be seen, and indeed to experiment with how we use a few words and an image to convey who we are.

When I launched my personal logo, which includes the image above, I wrote about how the rise of personal brands means the rise of personal logos. The profile pictures we use online tell stories, by the clothes we wear, the context the photo is taken in, whether other people are in the photo, and so on.

A personal logo tells a more structured story, though arguably is less personal. As such, I’m not convinced I should have my logo there rather than a photo, but I’ll try it out for a while.

A number of people have referred to my new Twitter profile image as an ‘avatar’. I don’t think of it as such, but the avatars that people have used online since the advent of the web are also public expressions of our identities. They too allow us to transcend the way we look to broader expressions of our personality and identity.

Since Twitter is so deeply tied to my work, my profile description of course refers primarily to my work identity, trying to reflect the scope of what I do. As we develop our careers, our self-descriptions evolve, and indeed we can work to reposition ourselves in careers to shift into aspirational personal descriptions. In this case I’ve chosen to provide a link to my visualization of my business model, as it is a far easier way to express what I do.

So: do your social media bios and photos express well who you are? Are they out of date? How can you experiment with different ways of expressing who you are, work-wise and personally, in your profile?

Because your social media profile IS your identity.

  • Read this article today on “virtual Suicide’ ( which has ruffled Facebooks feathers – but of more interest to me is the ‘Rise of the ‘virtual self’ and the implications of not having an online profile – there are lots of good reasons to have an up to date profile, but not sure I like the behavior that is needed to support it – your thoughts ?

    • Big, interesting issues here. In short, we do have a choice whether to actively engage online, but the reality is that personal success will be increasingly driven by our online presence. So is it really a choice?

      I do think employers and others will over time understand these issues and be more subtle in not necessarily looking for the ‘loudest’ voices, but that could take a while.

  • I would say that your online presence overall (including social media profiles) make up your identity.  Since people search for information online, it’s often the first impression that you give.  It’s important that it be accurate and up to date. 

  • Social media is a key component for small business success!

  • Hi Ross, you’ve seen my twitter profile, and it does describe who I am but doesn’t include work information. I can use a web link to do that.  If I am establishing a personal brand, then it must be personal and not sterile or I will not be attracting/or attracted to the kind of creative people I want to speak with; at the same time, I realize this doesn’t contain the type of catch phrasing business jargon that most put in their profile. It’s a balance, and I simply can’t see myself as the “social change agent, marketing and innovation geek’ who wants to eventually become an innovation consultant.  In my estimation there are far too many people who advertise they are good communicators (a necessity for social media/SEO/web developer/marketing people) but fail to sell the “dream” in their profile.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    • A great question Sheila!

      I don’t think there are any easy answers here – everyone needs to find a way of presenting themself that feels authentic but also represents capabilities potential clients want, and that should be different for each person.

      As you suggest, part of it is finding the creative, personal message that marries the two.

      One approach I have used is to design a series of ‘aspirational’ personal descriptions that reflect how I want to present myself, and to work hard to justify them. It should be an ongoing life-long process to uncover who you are in both work and social contexts, and present that in meaningful ways…