How to Create a Twitter Account
Signing up on Twitter is easy. But setting up a profile that helps you gain followers takes a little more effort.
Learn how to create a Twitter account and a profile that builds your social media presence.
Getting Signed Up on Twitter
Except for selecting a username, this is the easiest part of getting signed up.
- Go to twitter.com and click on the Sign Up for Twitter button.
- Enter your email address.
- Enter and confirm a password.
- Enter a username (read more about doing this in the next segment BEFORE you select your username).
- Enter the characters shown in the human verification box when they appear.
- Click Sign Up!
"What If I'm Tweeting for My Job?"
If you are tweeting for both your employer and for yourself, create a separate account for your personal tweeting, using your home, not work, email address for logging in. This is for your protection and your employer's.
By setting up a personal Twitter account, if you do leave the company, you'll still be able to tweet under your personal account and won't lose your followers. One other suggestion is to include a short statement in your bio that says something similar to "Tweets are my own" or "This is my personal Twitter account" which will help people understand that this is separate from your work tweeting.
Your employer should set up Twitter accounts for employees and retain control of the accounts, ideally using a social media management platform such as Hootsuite for Teams. This way they can delete users and change permissions for those who have left the company and who could potentially cause quite a bit of mischief with unauthorized tweeting.
By the way, these workplace Twitter scenarios are already creating a legal minefield. Stay safe!
Creating a Good Twitter Username
You have only 15 characters for your Twitter username or "handle." You can use your real name or as much of it as you can fit in that space. Or you can create a memorable, clever or brand building one. It's up to you. But be aware that if your Twitter handle is exceptionally tricky to remember, people may not easily recognize you in their tweet feed streams.
For example, there was a woman with a handle that was a collection of unlikely consonants, creating a secret reference that only her best friends would recognize. Eventually she changed her Twitter handle to her real name. Now everyone can easily locate her in their tweet streams. Sure, she could have continued to use the mysterious handle since Twitter's search function can also locate users by their real names. But why make it harder for your users to recognize you?
This brings up another point. Yes, you can change your username at some point in the future without having to set up a new account. This retains your followers and those you are following. However, be aware that your followers may not recognize your new username in their tweet streams and ignore your posts. They may also think that your account could have been hacked. So carefully choose your username at the beginning and change it at your own risk.
Completing Your Twitter Profile
Once you've reserved your Twitter username and signed up, you'll need to complete the rest of your profile. Go to the Gear icon near the top of the Twitter, click to see the drop down menu and select Edit Profile. (Note: Sometimes Twitter changes screen layouts. So if the Gear is not showing for you, go to wherever you can get to Edit Profile.)
This is the part where most new Twitter users fail. They don't fill in many or any of these items. So their accounts are almost completely blank. How do they expect anyone to be interested in following them?
Your Twitter profile will include:
- Photo. Your photo (avatar) is one of the most important parts of your Twitter profile. Use a good head shot of yourself so that people can identify your face. Optional: You can select a header photo that will appear behind your avatar and Twitter profile.
- Name. New Twitter users often make the mistake of filling in their username in this spot. This is for your real name.
- Location. You don't have to enter your postal address. Just a city, state or region is sufficient.
- Website. You might want to send your Twitter followers to a specific page on your website or blog. You can send them to any site you want so they can learn more about you.
- Bio. You have 160 characters to tell the world who you are. Limit it to the most important details.
5 Mistakes New Twitter Users Make...and How to Avoid Them
There are five primary mistakes that new tweeters make when they're just getting started.
- Not Using Real Name. Whether it's because they're afraid to be on Twitter or they just think it's for their username, it's a BIG mistake to not enter your real name in the Full Name spot of your profile. Why? When people do a Google or Twitter search to find you by entering your real name, you will not come up in the search results. So these searchers will presume you're not on Twitter. If it's the fear factor that is keeping you from using your real names, you might need to rethink your participation on this very PUBLIC network.
- Irrelevant Photos. So, so many mistakes here! Use a good headshot of YOU. On Twitter, you will be able to crop it into a square that just features your face. Some people try to use full body shots which are completely unidentifiable when viewed in the 56 pixels square display area for the photo. Worse yet are those users who use pictures of their kids, pets, favorite possessions, cars... it's just ridiculous. We don't want to follow your kid or cat, no matter how adorable. We want to follow YOU! The only exception is for an official company Twitter account that would include the company's logo in this spot.
- No Location or Goofy Location. Early in the days of Twitter, some users thought it was cool to use their longitude and latitude locations. Guess what? Most people won't go through the steps to interpret where that really is. Others want to be cute and enter locations such as "Earth" or "Cyberspace." No, we're not asking you to enter your home address, but people often want to know if they're connecting with tweeters in their own country, city, state or region. Use something easily identifiable.
- Generic Bios. If I had a dime for every Twitter profile that included these useless, generic phrases to define how the user is special, I'd be able to retire without even finishing this article: I'm a husband/wife/father/mother/friend, I love to meet people, enjoying life. That would describe the majority of people on this planet. How are you different? What can we expect you to be tweeting about? Even worse are the ones who don't fill in the bio at all. I don't follow anyone who doesn't fill in a bio. Period.
- No Website Link. Agreed, not everyone has a website. That's okay. But people might want to know more about you than what those 160 characters provide. Sending to a complete LinkedIn profile is a good alternative if this is an issue for you.
"I've got my Twitter account set up. Now what?"
- Get tweeting! Sending a first tweet that announces you are now on Twitter is appropriate.
- Start following people. Do a Search on Twitter for people who have the same interests as you. Twitter will display those who are tweeting about that topic OR those how have that topic in their bios. (Now do you see why a complete bio is so important?) Twitter will also make suggestions about similar people who may be of interest to you.
- Keep on tweeting! This is a social media network that requires continuous participation to be useful. Set aside a few minutes each day to explore and participate on the network. Tweeting once a day on weekdays is about the bare minimum to be seen as active on the network; 5 to 10 times shows a little more ambition and commitment. Retweet (like forwarded email) tweets that you find useful. Tweet links to helpful articles and resources. Become a valuable resource and watch your Twitter following grow!
Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
© 2013 Heidi Thorne