Getting Started on Twitter: Hey, Nice to Meet You
Posted By Emily Warn on September 25, 2012
Imagine you’re competing for gold in the completely obscure sport of canoe slalom. A reporter out for an angle interviews you. What do you tell him to make the billions of people transfixed by Michael Phelps ogle you?
Signing up for an account on Twitter is like talking to that reporter. It’s your hello to the world—in this case, the world of 500 million tweeters, according to TechCrunch.
But don’t be intimidated. The steps in signing up for a Twitter account help you say hello. And getting started on Twitter right will make your “hello” pique people’s curiosity right from the get-go.
Step 1: Sign Up
The first step to getting started on Twitter is like signing up for just about any other online account. Go to Twitter.com, type in your name, email address, and password, and then click “Sign up for Twitter.”
Step 2: Pick Your Twitter “Handle”
On the next page you pick your username. In Twitter lingo, your username is called a handle and is always preceded by an @ sign, such as @emilywarn or @canoeslalomqueen.
We recommend that you use your name as your handle. You’re the person you want people to remember—not what you do, not the name of your book, and especially not a cutesy nickname (the most common Twitter profile misstep).
Enter your name in the Username box, then click Create an Account, and you’re in. (If you make a blooper in your username or elsewhere in your profile, you can change it later.)
Note: The symbol @ means “at.” Your tweets are sent to someone at their Twitter account, akin to sending a real letter to someone at 111 Canal Street.
Step 3: Start hanging out
We think the Twitter staff got step 3 and 4 backward. In Step 3, they suggest some people you might want to follow and let you add some of your own.
But that’s like pushing you through the door into a party even though your hair’s a mess or there’s a coffee stain on your shirt—meaning you haven’t even filled out your own profile (step 4). If people you choose want to find out who you are, there’s nobody there.
You can go ahead and pick some people to follow, but be prepared to change your choices later. Twitter suggests some random people and some famous people. A better way to find people to follow is to search on one of your interests:
For now, just know that figuring out who to follow is an art form and a wonderfully organic process as you meet people in Twitter streams and conversations.
Step 4: Make yourself presentable—fill out your profile
How many times has a website asked you to create a profile when you signed up for its service? How many times have you skipped the step? On Twitter it’s as essential to primp for the party as it is to prep for a business pitch. Your profile is what makes people decide whether to connect with you.
So slow down. Mull it over. Who do you want to be on Twitter? Here are four tips to help you create a memorable and single-minded persona.
Tip 1: Avoid making a list to describe yourself
All of us live many different lives. We’re quilters, gearheads, brothers, sisters, bosses, junk food addicts. If you present a list of all the things you are, you end up being no one. Who is Erika really?
Tip 2: Focus your interests
What are the one or two things that you’re most passionate about? Think about what one thing you want to be known for or to know about. For this (fictional) Olympic athlete from Tunisia, it’s all about canoe slalom.
“I won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics—and I know the best place to capsize—Tunisia, my motherland.”
Here’s what you know about her in less than 140 characters: She’s a canoe slalom specialist (that’s what they call themselves) with a sense of pride and humor. And she rocks because she won a medal and she’s a woman athlete from Tunisia. Of course, she’s also someone’s daughter and may like drinking espressos, but do you really care?
Tip 3: Add a complementary photo
How else does Canoeslalom help us decide whether to follow her? She’s shows off her master stroke in a photo of herself, further reinforcing her identity and making herself more human.
Tip 4: Humor is a high five or a hug on Twitter
Think about how you feel when you’re kidding around with friends at a neighborhood baseball game. What a relief laughter provides from the same old, same old. It makes you feel included in the group. It makes you look forward to hanging out again.
Adding humor to your Twitter profile does the same thing. It’s welcoming and warm. If you make people smile, you make them curious about what you’ll you say next.
Now the fun begins. To learn more about using Twitter, read our previous blog posts listed below: