A guide to getting started on Twitter: You’ll be tweeting in no time

This is a guest post by LizzieBeth

So you’ve probably heard all the hype about Twitter and finally decided that you’d like to set-up an account with it. You’ve a general idea of where to go, but you’re not sure in how to go about it. Well, that’s ok. We can tell you how and what you need to know.

Lots of us, just like you, were new (and we still are, to some extent) to Twitter and all that it entails. I know you’re nervous, and you’re probably thinking that you’ll end up getting this all wrong. Truthfully, there’s no right or wrong way to Twitter. Yes, it might seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. It really is.

Let’s get started. First, type in the following address: http://www.twitter.com You’ve probably been to the site already, but, just in case, we’ve got you covered.

Twitter Splash

When you first arrive at the site, it gives you several options. To log in or to create your twitter page. Underneath where it says New to Twitter? is where you’re going to start entering your information.

In the box where it asks for Full Name you’re going to enter the name that you wish to have associated with your account. You can use your own name or your penname, if you use one for writing. Whatever choice you choose, be sure that it’s the name that most people know you by in the literary world.

Next, you’re going to enter your email address and a password to use with your account. This is very important as you’re going to need the password to log in, and the email will allow you to recover your password should anything go wrong. Once that’s all said and done, go ahead and click on Sign Up!

You now see the information that you’ve just entered displayed for you, in addition to a fourth box. This is where you’ll be able to enter the username that you wish to have associated with your account. Don’t worry, if you don’t like the username that you’ve chose later on down the line, you have the option of changing it to something you’ll enjoy using. We’ll leave that for another day, though.

Anyway, go ahead and enter your username in the field provided. You can name your page whatever you want, but you want to make sure that it’s something simple, so that others won’t have any trouble in finding you on Twitter. The shorter your username, the easier it is to remember.

For example, mine is xLizzieBethx. It’s simple and short, and for those who know me, they automatically know to whom the username is attached to. That’s what you want your username to reflect. Something by which others will automatically associate with you. It could be your brand, your book, or whatever you want it to be, really. Just consider it an extension of who you are.

Once you’re ready, click the yellow button to join Twitter. It’s that easy!

Now before we go on, you’re going to want to take a moment and check your email. Why is that, you ask? Because you’re going to want to make sure that your Twitter account is confirmed. This will allow you to use Twitter to its full potential. So go ahead. Check your email and confirm your account.

After you confirm, you’ll be redirected to the main page of your account.

Twitter Main Page

It looks bare, I know. Don’t worry, though. You’ll have it filled up in no time. This is where you’ll be able to see everything that happens on your Twitter page – your main timeline, your @mentions, and your retweets. Consider this your main portal on Twitter page. Everything you need to be able to Twitter is easily accessible from this very spot.

Now it’s time to start personalizing your page. See the little green egg at the upper right of your page? It has a little gray arrow pointing down. Go ahead and click that. In the drop-down menu is an option to so to Settings. Click on that and you are now taken to the page where you can modify your account in whatever way you see fit. This is where you can change your password, your username, and a couple other goodies.

On this main page in Settings, go ahead and set your Language and Time Zone. Unless you want people to always know where you are and what you’re doing whenever you send out a tweet, keep the box that says Add A Location To Your Tweets unchecked.

The Protect My Tweets option gives you the ability to set your Twitter account to private. This means that no one can see what you do or say unless the person sends you a request to follow your tweets. It keeps your account completely private and only those that you approve to follow you will be able to see your timeline stream.

If you’re satisfied with everything, you will then need to click save. Depending on what you modify, it will ask you for your password in order to confirm the changes. If it does ask for it, enter it and click the box on the next screen.

Perfect! Now, we’re going to have you click on Profile.

Twitter Profile Page

You don’t want your Twitter icon to remain as an egg. Why’s that, you ask? Well, often-times, those who continue to use the egg are considered newbie’s or spammers – and well, we don’t want you to be considered as either. You want to show people that you want to actively learn/want to use Twitter. Plus, you also want to personalize your page so that it reflects who you are and what you do.

Click on the Browse option and search for a picture that you think will represent you. It could be a picture of you or of something that you think will be tied to you or your work. A lot of people say that it’s best to use a head shot or a picture that shows exactly who you are. If you don’t want to use either of those options, you can also use a picture of a cover of your book or something that will represent your brand. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure that it will speak to others as to who you are and what you do.

You also have the option of modifying your name, your location (if you want to list it), your website address, (It’s a must-have, as you want people to find you, and your books, on the internet, right?), and a short bio to describe you and your work to those who follow you. You also have the option of linking your Twitter account to your Facebook page. Once you’re satisfied with everything, click on save.

Now that you’ve begun to personalize your page, we’re going to have you customize it just a little further. Click on the Design option. This will allow you to choose a preset design template, as well as modifying your pages background image and design colors. Go ahead and choose something that will be pleasing on your eyes, as well as that of your followers.

If you wish to have a custom background on your page, click on Change Background Image and browse for the file you that wish to have your page display. If you want the image to tile, make sure that the box is checked for that option. Once you’re content with how everything looks, go ahead and click save.

Cheers! You’re almost done with setting up your page.

There’s one more thing that you need to do and I promise that it won’t take long. Click on Notifications. In the Messages section, uncheck the option to have an email sent when someone replies to you or mentions you. Next, in the Activity section, uncheck the boxes for My tweets are marked as favorites and My tweets are retweeted. In the Updates section, with the options listed, on whether to check/uncheck, are totally up to you. I have mine checked, as I want updates on whenever anything new is to be rolled out on Twitter. Once you’re all set, go ahead and click save.

You’re probably wondering as to why I’ve had you uncheck the options listed. The reason for this is that you don’t want your email address full of unnecessary emails. And trust me, once you get a hang of Twitter, all these reply/mention/etc . . . emails sitting there are going to annoy you. So the less hassle you have, emails-wise, the better, right?

Now that you’ve personalized your page, you’re going to want to start following people and have them follow you.

Twitter Follow

You can use search to enter the name of a person or their email address in order to find them. If you already know the twitter address for someone, enter it in the address bar. Found whom you’re looking for? Great! See that lovely Follow button? Click it. YAY! You’ve just followed your first person.

I’d also like to mention that when following people daily, try and keep your following ratio to a minimum of 25 to 30 new follows a day. If you follow too many too soon, Twitter will block your account for about an hour or so, (sometimes more, depending on how many people you’ve tried to follow that day). They consider this sort of thing as aggressive following and it is something that you want to avoid from happening. This same thing can be said for massive unfollows when trying to clean up your Following list. To keep this in mind, as well.

Now before you move on to the next person, I’m going to have you create a list. This places the people you follow into certain categories for easier access to their content. See the little box to the right of the follow button? Clicking it will drop-down a menu. You’re going to want to click on Add To List. You are now presented with the option to Create A List. Click on it and name your list. Add a little description, if you want to. Decide whether you want to make your list public or private and then save your list. Congratulations! You’ve just made your first list!

Now that you’ve followed a few people and created your lists, you’re going to want to start sharing your content and tweeting to other people.

Message Box

In the box provided on the main page, type your message. You only have 140 characters in which to use to create what you want to say, so use them wisely. To reply to someone else’s tweet, you use the @mention. So say you want to talk to Emlyn Chand on Twitter, you type @EmlynChand and then the message. You then click the tweet button to send it. It’s that easy!

When sharing links, you want to make sure that you’re using to URL shortener. It allows you to have more room to say what you’ve got to say and condenses your link into something much easier to remember. A couple of sites to use for this are Bit.ly, Ow.ly, and TinyURL. There are many more sites that offer this type of service, so use them to your potential. Google and WordPress.com have their own shortener’s, too, just to name a few.

Now that you’ve started tweeting and getting to know the people that you’re following, I’m sure you’re eager to share all of the content that you’ve come across.

Tweet Options

By now you’ve come across the terms Retweets and Favorites. Retweet allows you to share someone else’s tweet with your followers. Favorite is Twitter’s equivalent of Facebook’s Like system.

While you may want to retweet everything, and anything, that you come across, please don’t. Use this option wisely and only retweet content that is either relevant to your field or that you think might interest your followers. If you tend to retweet everything you see, you’re going to be considered as a sort of spammer and people are going to be put off by your actions.

You should keep to a healthy dose of content tweets – message tweets and responses that don’t always include links, and promotional tweets – which include links to content that we want to share with others, as well as any retweets from content that others have shared that you want to share with your followers.

When sharing links to your content, try not to send them repeatedly (i.e. Every 10 to 15 minutes) as doing so will get you tagged as a spammer. I try to share my links to my books/etc . . . about every three to six hours so that people will have time to ingest what I’ve shared. This also will keep me from spamming my content to those I follow/those who follow me.

While all of this might seem mind-boggling and so very daunting at first, Twitter is actually very easy to get used to. It’s by far, at least from what I’ve seen, one of the best marketing options available in social-networking.

I hope that I’ve given you a better understanding of all things Twitter. Remember to use it wisely. Build and strengthen your relationships with all those you come across as you go along. And, as always, just have fun with it!

 

About this post’s author:

My name is Nancy Medina, but I write under the pseudonym of Lissette E. Manning. I’m 33 years old and hail from Connecticut. I’ve lived here for most of life, but have traveled around here and there. Not out of the country, mind you, but around the U.S. There are places that I’d like to visit some day. I hope to make that dream a reality. I tend to write Romance Novels and poetry, but loving dabbling in other genres, too. I’m currently working on several Science Fiction/Fantasy stories, as well as a thriller. Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or GoodReads.


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