Yesterday I presented on the topic of Social Media and Your Job Search in front of a large group of executives, many of whom were in transition. As with any professional crowd, nearly everyone was already comfortable with LinkedIn, but less than half of the attendees had ventured out onto Twitter yet. I sensed some confusion about Twitter, so today instead of blogging about Twitter and Personal Branding or Twitter and the Job Search, I felt it was time to write a blog post to help hand-hold those that are still confused by Twitter but really want to give it a shot without any risk. With that in mind, this is your Twitter 101 Getting Started on Twitter Guide based on 7 tips that I hope you’ll find useful.
I am not going to go through all of the screenshots you will see when you sign up with Twitter, but I will point out 7 useful tips that I recommend you follow upon signing up to Twitter to get you started risk-free:
1) Use your personal e-mail address for your Twitter account. Yesterday I tweeted a story about someone who lost access to their Twitter account after they left their job. You may never be able to retrieve your password if you use your company email address and leave that company. This also should remind you of a post I did several months ago on the lurking issue of who owns your LinkedIn profile, as the same problem can and will happen with Twitter.
2) Use your real name for your Twitter account. Claim it before someone else does. You will be thankful in the future that you did this now. It also makes it easier for everyone to find you after you become famous.
You will be asked for more information as you create your Twitter account, but everything can be changed after the fact by going to your “Settings” tab at the top of your Twitter page. Every privacy option or profile customization setting will be here. Within this tab there are a few things you should check:
3) Complete your “More Info URL” and your branded “One Line Bio.” In “Account” you have the option to include a “More Info URL”, a “One Line Bio”, and a Location. Fill these out with relevant information. Your Profile URL, if you don’t have a blog or a company website, should probably be your LinkedIn Profile URL. As for location, this is a privacy issue. However, should you include the city in which you live, it will make it easier for those who live nearby to find you. I recommend you do so, but only do what you feel comfortable with, or use a broader geographic area like a county name or even a state name if you don’t want to expose your city to the Twitterati.
4) No need to go mobile yet. There is a “Mobile” tab which is to the right of the “Password” and “Settings” tabs. For some reason, people associate Twitter with the cell phone, even though LinkedIn and Facebook also have cell phone applications (at least on my iPhone they do!). There is no need to enable Twitter on your cell phone at this point, so avoid the temptation until you’re hooked.
5) Ditch the notices. The “Notices” tab is a very important tab when you start out. You have the option to receive an email whenever someone sends you a Direct Message as well as when you get a new follower. I recommend that you turn these Notices OFF. Remember, you are just starting on Twitter, so who is going to send you a Direct Message that wouldn’t be able to send you an email? And you will get random people that will somehow find you and start following you…do you really want to clutter your email with this information? I didn’t think so.
6) Professionally branded picture, please. I recommend that you use the same “Picture” that you use on LinkedIn. Why would you use anything different? Avoid the temptation and keep professional here.
7) Standard design will do for now. You can set your background image of your profile using the “Design” tab. Just use a default image with a color scheme that you like. There is no need to do anything fancy here. Should you be a Photoshop pro and really want to customize things off the bat, here is how to create your own custom Twitter background.
This is all you need to do to set-up your account. Your “Home” screen should show nothing in your “Timeline” and your Tweets, Followers, and Following should all display a big fat “zero.” Well done! You are now officially on Twitter! But before you start adding people to follow by selecting “Find People”, I highly recommend that you avoid the temptation and wait. Next week I will cover taking your first baby steps on Twitter, so make sure you get your account ready before then!