Selecting Your Twitter Identity
One of the first things you need to know in order to get started on Twitter is what your user name will be. You’ll need to put some thought into this; your user name is what everybody will use to identify with you, and it’s not very wise to change later (in terms of followers) once you get going.
You can use your user name as an opportunity to tie your twitter account into your online brand. If you’ve got an established persona use that. If you’re best known as yourself (and that’s what you want to promote), then go with that.
I’d avoid using the product you’re ultimately going to promote as your user name – it will make everything you say seem like you’re trying to sell something, and that is not the way to be successful with social marketing. Plus, you may decide to promote another product at another time, and you don’t want to have to start all over again. It’s important that, whatever name you choose, real or persona, that you come across as genuine in both your profile and posts.
Although you can change your user name later, once you start using the new one, your old one becomes available for someone else to use it. If you do feel that you have to change your user name once you’re signed up, make sure to do it early on before you build a following. It also is a pain if you are using other services that need to log in to your twitter account, as they will stop working once your user name is changed.
Another thing you could do is simply start another Twitter account with another email address, and keep the first one dormant. It will keep anyone from swooping in and taking your name. You could also do this proactively with several names in order to keep people from starting accounts that relate to your brand name.
If you do not have a brand and do not want to use your name then pick a specific keywords for your Twitter account that represents your market, it will help your account rank high in search for that keyword. The search engines are loving Twitter and for example, my Twitter account shows up 3rd in Google for the term which of course of that brand I am using 🙂
When looking for keywords, I recommend that you try to find a solid two-phrase keyword phrase that represents your niche and gets good traffic. You, of course, will want to promote your Twitter page with that keyword too… but we get into that later. You also want it to be something easy to remember.. but be prepared to get frustrated because just like domains, a lot of good names have been registered and next to nothing is on them. A good example is, that would be a great twitter account to own if you were in that niche and the person who registered this, has not made a post since October 2008. You will want to to create a list of 20 or more keywords and use all variations available. An example is…
Creating Your Twitter Account
Go to https://twitter.com/signup to create your account or click on the “Get Started – Join” button at http://twitter.com/.
The information they ask for to sign up is pretty simple – full name, user name, password, and email address. As you move through the fields, Twitter will let you know if your choices are acceptable (i.e. a user name that’s not taken, an appropriate password, etc.)
Once you’re signed up, you’ll need to fill out your profile area. It is very important to have as complete a profile as possible; people don’t like to follow people with no information in their profile. Upload a photo or image to use as an avatar; this will also help you gain more followers. You can either use a real image of yourself, or a logo, or other image associated with your brand, or even a stock photo that fits the image you’re trying to create. Anything is better than the Twitter default.
When you’re filling out your profile, you’ll see a box that says “Protect my Updates.” If you choose this, all of your posts and messages will not appear in the public timeline, and can only be seen by people you are following or who are following you. Since you’re signing up to Twitter to promote yourself and your business, I do NOT recommend you do this.
Twitter will also ask you if you want to find friends (contacts) that you have through Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, or MSN. Twitter will search through the contacts that you have in the chosen account, and tell you which ones are already signed up for Twitter. You can always return to this later if you won’t want to do this right away.
Twitter will also show you a list of suggested contacts. This usually includes the more popular Twitter accounts, mostly celebrities and large companies. You can follow these if you like, but it’s unlikely that many of them will follow you back. A better idea is to try and find people within your niche, and follow them. You can do that by searching on a keyword relevant to your category at https://twitter.com/invitations/find_on_twitter or search
Once you’ve got your profile done and updated your contacts (if you chose to) then you can click on the ‘Devices’ tab to set yourself up for Twitter on your cell phone; you can get text messages of Twitter messages, and also send a broadcast from your phone. This can be very useful if you’re away from your office a lot (like much of us are) but you still want to be sending regular updates.
Another tab you want to go to right away is the ‘Notices’ tab. This is where you can choose how often Twitter contacts you. I would recommend disabling the New Follower Emails. Otherwise, every time someone follows you, you’ll get an email notifying you. Since your goal is to have followers in the thousands, that would be a lot of email cluttering up your inbox.
Personalizing Your Twitter Page
Finally, the ‘Design’ tab is where you can mess around with your color scheme. You can choose from their pre-created theme colors or templates, or upload your own customized Twitter page. If you’ve already got an established website, this is a great opportunity to make sure that your Twitter page reflects the same design sensibilities.
Remember, Twitter is a social platform and you want your followers to feel like they know you, so create something that gives them a little peek inside. As you can see from my background, I added a picture of a trip to Niagara Falls and a Christmas picture from Disney World. I also however, put the urls to the different businesses i run and put a little slogan on the top of the page.
A fantastic resource for creating a free and professional looking background is but there are also paid services out there as well. I do not have any recommendations for paid services, as with a service like Free Twitter Designer I see no reason to pay for one… but if you want to, then just search Google and I am sure you will find a few 🙂
Another extremely important thing to keep in mind is that your profile bio needs to be short and to the point but you will want to have keywords in there that people will search for when looking for other people to follow. Do not put long tail terms in there, keep them top level and make your profile flow.
Also remember that in your profile you will want to add the URL of your main site, this is linked to from your Twitter page and will be visited by people checking out your profile… and YES people will look at your profile. I was confused a while ago as to why people were direct messaging me in Twitter and asking me for personal mentoring, then I realized it was because I had mentioned in my profile that I am a “Mentor”… so yes people do read your profile 🙂
And there you have it – everything you need to know to get set up on Twitter. They really make it as easy as possible. Next, the harder part (well not really hard but harder 😉 ) – how to post Tweets and start to build your following.
Create a list of potential user names, keeping in mind your goal (branding, name recognition or keyword ranking)
Make variations of each potential username
Got to https://twitter.com/signup and create you account
Fill out your profile (image, bio, etc) in full
Create a custom background