Social media use for business leaders has become commonplace, but some people still need occasional reminders of how best to use these platforms. On most social media networks, the bio — or brief explanation of who you are — is the most important first impression you make. Unfortunately, many people simply fill in their main information when they first sign up and rarely make any changes. The bio deserves more attention than that.

You need to convey both your professional status and your personality in just one or two sentences. With a little extra consideration, you can make sure that your social media profile puts your best forward for your followers. Here are some key points to keep in mind to craft a winning social media bio.

1. Know Your Limits

Each network has a different format and cap on the number of characters you can use for your bio. Even within a single network, you may find different requirements. For instance, Facebook has a lengthy “About” section on the detailed profile page, but only a few lines appear on the main screen of any Page.

Miscalculating those limits and having a sentence cut off midway through gives an unprofessional look, whether the bio is for an individual or a brand. One of the best ways to avoid being cut short is to have several different bio versions of different lengths ready to use in different circumstances.

2. Be Consistent Across Networks

Personal branding has become a key component of social media success and consistency of your image is an important factor for building that personal brand. When your presence branches across many networks, you’ll want to make sure that people will recognize you on all those channels. You don’t have to keep the wording of your bios exactly the same, but include enough of the same phrases and the same tone that your name will ring a bell on any network.

3. Go Easy on the Buzzwords

A recent study found that 181,000 people on Twitter refer to themselves in their bios as social media “gurus,” “mavens,” or “ninjas.” While these titles sound cool, they also sound informal and unprofessional.

If you have an official title, by all means list it in your bio. But these buzzword titles most frequently come across as vague attempts to claim expertise in the still nascent world of social media.

If you peruse the bios of social media thought leaders, you’ll find that most of them avoid these imprecise titles. They also avoid other trendy buzzwords in their bios, since they give the impression of following a fad rather than presenting hard qualifications. Also, “hashtag” may have been crowned the word of the year in 2012, but that doesn’t mean you need to include one in your bio.

4. Keep It Current

The good news about these networks is that your personal information can be fluid. So as soon as you get a promotion or a new gig, update your bios as well as your LinkedIn information.

If you win a prestigious award, make a note of it. When you come up with a great new way to explain what you’re all about, give it a spin. The great thing about social media is that your presence on these networks can be tweaked and tailored whenever you want. Take advantage of that flexibility.

5. Proofread

Remember to always proofread your bio before posting it live. It’s a common sense suggestion, but still an important one. That means double-checking your spelling and grammar, as well as checking that any links you include are accurate.

If you don’t trust your own eyes, ask a friend or coworker to read it over for you. This one extra step may spare you the embarrassment of posting a silly typo or a broken URL for your website.

6. Don’t Forget the Photo

We’ve focused on the written components of your bio, but the visual angle is equally important for telling your story. Pick a good photo for your bio, and be sure to crop it to the appropriate size so that the image isn’t blurry. As with your text, some consistency in images across all your social networks will help strengthen your personal brand.

Have any other great tips for writing a professional social media bio? Let is know in the comments.

[Image credits: Ray from LA, Thecrazyfilmgirl, Horia Varlan, Quinn Dombrowski, Martin Pettitt, Paul Heaberlin, William Warby]