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Getting Started on Twitter

Twitter for Business Step-By-Step Guides – Part 1: The Basics

Getting Started on Twitter

Contrary to all predictions, Twitter marketing hasn’t gone away. In fact, this year it is finally becoming the powerhouse means of marketing communication everyone except Twitter knew it had the potential to be.

And if your market is active on Twitter, you will find yourself needing to sign up right away.

This guide will help you get through the process quickly and effectively.

Step 1: Choosing Your Twitter Name

Choosing your Twitter name, or “handle”, is not something to be rushed through. Sure, you can change it if you later decide it’s not working for you – but if you’ve built up any sort of following, don’t count on them following you under your new name – or even seeing your tweet about changing your Twitter handle.

Your Twitter handle is always preceded by the “@” sign.

Using your real name is preferred, but what do you do if “@marysmith” is taken?

Twitter itself will suggest options such as “@MarySmith34089283” but adding a number to your name is not something people easily remember, even if it’s just “1” or “2”.

If you have strongly branded title, you can add that to your name (or substitute it): For example, “@MarySmithDiaperQueen” or simply “@DiaperQueen”.

The big rule to keep in mind is:

  • Make your Twitter handle easy to remember.

Numbers and unnecessary capitalization will get in the way of this. The only time you should capitalize your name? If not capitalizing might visually confuse your audience and/or alter the meaning of what they read.

For example: “@AliciaAdams” is easier to read than “@aliciaadams”. And you really don’t want to create any confusion with names that could be read as something else when the first and last name is run together.

To find out if your twitter name is already taken: Type “https://twitter.com/yourname” into your browser search bar.

If there’s a profile for that name, you’ll be asked to log in. If not, you’ll be told: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist” and you can go ahead and sign up with it.

Step 2: Setting up Your Account

When you’re ready to set up your account, go to Twitter.com and enter your full name, email address and password of choice into the “New to Twitter? Sign up” box.

Press the yellow “Sign up for Twitter” button.

Next, enter your personal information at the prompts.

You can change your username later, but if you’re not using your own first and last name it’s best to find a good one now: For one thing, you will be able to instantly see which possible usernames are available and which are not….

Notice you will see suggestions provided, based on keywords (such as your name) that you’ve entered within the profile.

Pick the best name and press: “Create My Account”.

Step 2: Setting Up Your Timeline

You will then meet “The Twitter Teacher”, who will walk you through basics such as the maximum length of a tweet.

This wizard will also frog-march you through a Twitter Timeline setup process.

  • You must select five people to follow. For the sake of a speedy setup, just pick any of the suggestions – you can always unfollow them the moment your Timeline has been set up and your Twitter profile is live.

Note, however, that Twitter likes to search any keyword you use – including what’s in the profiles and tweets of the people you follow. For a really streamlined, focus timeline, take the time to:

  • Check the Twitter handles of people or companies you want to follow on their website

  • Don’t follow them directly from the page that opens up: Instead, note their Twitter handle and go back to the Twitter Teacher wizard. Use its search box to find and follow them.

  • The Twitter Teacher wizard then prompts you to add five celebrities. Simply enter your main keyword into the search bar, and choose from the results served up.

(Remember – there are always “celebrities” within even the smallest niche!)

  • Next, you’ll be prompted to add people from your email accounts. You can go along with this or press the “Skip” anchor text.

Step 4: Setting Up Your Profile

The Twitter wizard will then ask you to upload a profile photo.

In most online business scenarios a close headshot is the way to go: However, if you intend to brand a business rather than yourself, use your logo (or a highly identifiable detail from it).

Note there are a variety of file formats you can use, as well as a maximum size of 700K.

Your photo will appear in larger format on your profile page, so take advantage of this and upload a larger photo.

If your photo doesn’t appear, check the inbox of the email address you signed up with and make sure you actually have confirmed your new Twitter account.

(If you haven’t clicked on the link within the confirmation letter, do so right away.)

You may see another prompt to upload your photo, along with a profile slug to the left. Select the “Upload now” button.

You will then see your profile page.

You should then:

  • Add your location
  • Type in your website URL
  • Upload a custom header for your profile page (size: 1252 X 626 pixels)
  • Optional: Select the “Connect to Facebook” option to automatically post tweets to your Facebook profile (personal Timeline) or Page

Making the Most of Your Header

Your header will automatically display:

  • Your profile photo and Twitter handle
  • Your bio

Take that into account when designing your header.

Note also that transparency is not supported. Gradients will not graduate to white: only to a mid-grey tone, so plan your text colors accordingly if you wish to use a gradient.

Check to see that your header uploads successfully. Then right-click on the “your profile” anchor text and select “open in a new window” (or tab) to view your new profile.

From your profile, you can:

  • Edit your profile
  • Check your direct (private) messages (the black envelope icon).
  • See who is following you, who you are following
  • Access your lists and favorites
  • Check the latest trends
  • Find friends
  • Look at suggestions of people to follow
  • View your tweets

You can also check the number count on tweets, followers, and how many people you are following.

Note that direct messages can be sent to any of your followers, and must be 140 characters or less.

More about Your Twitter Header

Twitter headers are valuable real estate, so make the most of them! Here’s what you can do – and what you need to know about them.

  • In addition to a dimension of 1252 X 626 pixels, file size must be under 5mb.
  • Your bio, username, and links will display in white text. Keep that in mind when choosing a background color.
  • Twitter users will only see your header when they check out your profile
  • There are currently no restrictive rules as to text ratio or content

This last factor allows you many options, including adding:

  • Your tag line
  • Your physical contact information
  • your telephone, mobile and FAX number
  • Your website URL
  • A promotional message
  • Graphics
  • QR codes

If your followers are big mobile users, adding a QR code is an easy, extra way to get them to check out your website, special offer or landing page.

You can create a QR code in seconds with free generators such as Deliver. You won’t be able to copy the code into your header – but you can copy the resulting graphic and insert it into your header as a graphic element, which should work just fine. (In fact, Deliver allows you to download it instantly as a graphic.)

And this is what it might look like, copy-pasted into your header…

Again, the central logo (or profile headshot) and all text in white are what automatically populate your header graphic.

The pot photo, QR code graphic, studio name, address, and URL are optional elements included and positioned by the user into the header graphic.

When you have uploaded your header and updated your profile within the Twitter wizard, be sure to Save the changes!

Now that your profile is set up, don’t waste time – start tweeting!

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