Twitter is an awesome tool for connecting with like-minded people, or getting snippets of news or finding out what people are chatting about, and so much more.
Which is all well and good – but how do you actually set up an account and use it? Following is a step-by-step tutorial.
To sign up for Twitter, go to twitter.com and click on “Sign Up >”. Fill out the information and voila – you have your own Twitter account. It’s important to grab your names before someone else does, even if you don’t plan on using the account for a while. Consider setting up an account in your own name and one in your business name, if they are different.
Enter your details in the form. It is a good idea to choose a username as short as possible (I should try taking my own advice, obviously!) purely because, when people retweet anything you say you don’t want your username eating up too many of the precious 140 characters.
Twitter then makes is very simple to start following people in your area of interest. Because, what you say is important, but much of the beauty of Twitter lies in the gems you find by following other people.
You are then given an opportunity to locate any people you already communicate with by linking to your email account and searching for people’s email addresses.
The previous two screens are where you start building your network. Once you have finished the setup it is easy to continue adding people, I’ll cover this a bit further down.
You are then presented with your bare-bones Twitter account. Now it’s time to personalise it by clicking the down arrow beside your username and choosing Settings.
Now it’s time to work your way through all the settings options. They are all pretty obvious and have good tips listed with the choices to make it simple to decide how you want your account set up. Be sure to include your website and information about yourself since Twitter people actually want to know these things.
You definitely want to customise the appearance of your profile. Upload a photo of yourself or your logo as your picture/avatar. Select a background from the options available on Twitter, one of the numerous free background providers, or use one of your own images. This is a great opportunity to include some photos of your products or perhaps your contact details in your background. Never miss an opportunity to tempt people!
And here it is – my customised Twitter account. Time to start filling this up with interesting people and sharing my thoughts and discoveries!
How to Find People to Follow
- Visit the web site and blogs of people you already follow and see if they have a link to their Twitter account, then simply click the Follow button.
- Try the Twitter search engine at search.twitter.com and plug in your interests. This will then spit tons of people back out at you that you can choose to follow. Twitter will also give you some suggestions for people to follow.
- Once you are following a few people have a look at their profile to see who they follow.
“Following” someone is the same thing as adding them as a Facebook friend, except that they don’t see your updates unless they choose to follow you as well. Generally the best way to get followers is to add people based on your interests, as most people will follow you once you start following them.
Once you start following someone, their updates, or “Tweets”, will appear in your “timeline”, or your Twitter feed. If you discover that someone’s tweets aren’t of interest to you, you can easily remove them by going to their profile page on the Twitter site; you may do this by clicking on their name. Click the arrow beside “Following” just below the top of their profile page and then click “Remove”. Or go to the list of who you are following, scroll down to their name and click Unfollow.
To post your messages, or “Tweets”, go to your profile page and type your tweet into the box provided. The number beside the Tweet button tells you how many characters you have left.
Twitter was built to accommodate being updated from phones. The origin of the 140 character limit is the 160 character limit for SMS, which leaves some space for a name in addition to a 140 character message. There are a series of commands that can only be used via mobile phone. To get help with any phone-related Twitter questions, visit Twitter’s extensive FAQ on the subject.
So there it is, just the very basics. The only way to find out if Twitter is for you is to play with it. Coming in the near future I will have articles on how to get more followers, a Twitter glossary, advice on Twitter etiquette, third-party tools ..… and lots more!
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