"Whoever said that things have to be useful?" – Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and CEO
In this chapter you will learn how to set up your account, update your profile and design your Twitter home page.
How to set up your Twitter account
To get the most out of Twitter, you need to first set up of your account properly.
The way your Twitter profile page looks (and the content it contains) will have a big impact on what people think of you and whether they want to follow you.
Even if you have already set up your Twitter account it will be worth reading through this section – you might pick up a few useful tips.
Power tip: Your Twitter account may be found by searchers before your website – so even if you are not thinking of it as a marketing tools – you still need to makes sure it gives a good impression of you or your organisation.
Fill in your full name. Remember to leave a space between your first name and surname, otherwise people won’t find you when they search for your name.
Fill in your email address and a password. Take a note of the password you have chosen and store it somewhere you are likely to find it in the future. Do that right now before moving on to the next step.
If you already have another Twitter account, you can’t set up a new account under the same email address.
If you have your own website domain one solution would be to create several email addresses on your domain, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Power tip: If you don’t have a domain name, try Jeremy’s own searchenginefriendlyhosting.com or http://sefhost.com.
Alternatively you can use Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail (to name a few) to set up different email addresses.
The username you choose will in part be determined by the reason you are using Twitter, i.e. are you Tweeting as an individual or on behalf of an organisation?
You are allowed to use up to 15 characters for your username. However, the longer your name the less characters there are available to someone who wants to retweet your message. So try to keep your username to 10 characters or less.
If you are Tweeting on behalf of an organisation then it will pay to include suitable keywords in your username, as it will inevitably be indexed by Google.
For example, it will be no surprise that Asthma UK have chosen @asthmauk as their username; which is great because it is the name of the organisation and it contains the relevant key phrase, Asthma UK.
Other good names that provide the name of the organisation and appropriate keywords would be:
You could of course use both your organisation name and a keyword, e.g. if you are a music school but the word music isn’t in your school name, you could add it as part of your username.
Not so good usernames would include
@ciwf (Compassion in World Farming)
@thinkdifferent (National Autistic Society)
@CAFOD (Catholic aid agency for England and Wales)
As you have probably guessed from the above examples, when referring to a Twitter name the convention is to add the @ sign to the start of it. You leave out the @ when adding your username to your account.
Tweeting as you
If you are Tweeting as yourself (as opposed to an organisation) you probably want to use your real name or some variation of it. Your username won’t have spaces in it, i.e. instead of Jim Byrne it would be jimbyrne (all lower case and no spaces).
Creative use of your Twitter real name
Your real name will be displayed next to every Tweet you make and at the top of your Twitter home page (along with your short biography). It’s going to be very visible on Twitter – so it could pay to be creative.
Power Tip: Your real name is used in search results, thus it has SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value. So again think "keywords".
Things you can do with your name:
If you decide to be a bit creative – you can add keywords and phrases into your real name. for example.
Username = jimbyrne
Real name = Jim (Web Design Help)
Or: Real name = JimByrne.co.uk Or: Real name = Jim B (0800) 0111 7000* * Not a real phone number. Power Tip: Don’t try to impersonate another person. Twitter explicitly disallows it. You are likely to be banned if you do.
Add symbols to your Tweets and name
You can get even more creative and add Twitter "Symbols" to your name. Which you may think is a great attention grabbing idea – or totally inappropriate and silly. Whatever, here’s how you do it:
Go to the page at http://twsym.com/ double click a character you are interested in and copy it (Ctrl-C on Windows). Then paste that character into your message or username.
You can also use symbols in your Tweets; but my guess would be that it’s unlikely to be a good idea to use them too often – particularly in your business related Tweets.
Personalize your Twitter profile
Making a good impression with your Twitter home page is one of the fastest ways to gain new followers; so be sure to fill in your profile completely.
Fill in your 160 character biography. This will appear at the top of your Twitter profile page – make it succinct and a clear message about what you do – or who you are.
Make sure you add a photograph to your profile. There is nothing worse than going to a Twitter profile and seeing a default Twitter logo where the user’s photograph should be.
Add your profile photo
A photo will help your followers feel that they are connecting with a real human being. However, if you don’t feel comfortable having your photo on the web, consider using a graphic, or perhaps a cartoon character; something that says the right things about you or your organisation.
To upload your profile photo, choose Settings from your profile menu on your Twitter home page:
Then choose the Profile tab. Browse your computer for a suitable image and then click the Save button on your Profile page.
Add a background image to your profile page
To add a background image to your profile click the Design tab.
Twitter offers various backgrounds to choose from, which is better than leaving the default background – but not as good as uploading your own. Scroll down and click the "change background image" button. You can then choose an appropriate image from your computer’s hard-drive. You will be given the choice to have your image "tiled" or not; if you choose it to be tiled the image will be repeated until it covers your entire page. Click "save changes". After refreshing your Twitter profile page, the new background should appear.
Complete your profile, including adding your website address
Under "Account", add your website URL (if you have one). Most people nowadays have a blog or a personal website so add your website address there.
You are guaranteed a few clicks to your website from Twitter, so this is effectively free advertising.
Also under "Account", add your location and a short biography (less than 140 characters long). Here, you can say what you do or what your organisation does.
Websites that can help you create a rich Twitter profile
Power Tip: Twitter allows you to add location information to you Tweets (though you need to turn it on first in your Twitter Settings). When turned on you will see a location icon below the ‘What’s happening’ form field:
Whey you click this icon it will show your default location (as chosen in your settings). You can change this location by clicking on the pull down menu next to your default location or by searching for a new location: