Tips for getting started with Twitter


Getting started with Twitter is as easy as going to and signing up for a free account.

Of course, there’s a great deal to it from that point onwards as you try and figure out how and where to start. Write a tweet? Read what others tweet? Follow people?

What are your first steps?

University lecturer Philip Young – he and I have been connected on Twitter since the service’s early days – has addressed such questions in Twitter for academics, a post that offers some startup advice to those who endeavour to educate university students about organizational communication.

Philip offers good ideas about “Twitter for non-tweeters,” ranging from getting used to the terminology, following others on Twitter (usually called “tweeters”), choosing a good Twitter “handle” (name), and more. All of it is actually useful for anyone who’s not yet on Twitter but is considering it, not only academics.

Philip asked a number of communicators on Twitter, including me, if they had any additional thoughts to offer. I added a comment with two tips, which Philip’s now promoted to a post of its own on his blog – and which I’m also including here:

1. Make a Compelling Profile

Together with a photo or other relevant image, the concise information in your Twitter Profile is an essential element of a Twitter account as it lets others know a little about you, your interests and your community – an important aspect in decision-making when deciding whether to follow someone or not.

Here are three tips to help you when you’re setting up your Twitter account and Profile:

  1. Write your brief bio informally and naturally. Look at Philip’s or mine for an idea. It’s a one-line bio, not a brochure intro or a press release headline.
  2. Choose an image that reflects how you’d like others to see you. If it’s a photo of you, a smile is good.
  3. Add a link to more about you, your blog, something where a potential follower can go to find out more detail about you. In other words, somewhere that that potential follower can verify you to their own satisfaction.

Want some ideas of what other people do? Take a look at this Twitter list of communicators that I put together:

2. Are You Public or Private?

There are two types of Twitter account: public, open to the online world; and closed or private accounts where your content – known as ‘protected tweets’ – can be seen only by those you have granted access to.

If you intend to use Twitter as a means of openly engaging with others online, sharing comments, opinion and links, then a public account is your obvious choice. If you wish to engage only with a small group of people, for instance, where you manually approve each request to follow you, and where your tweets don’t appear in Twitter Search results, then private would be your choice.

The point is, you do have a choice. See the Twitter help page “About Public and Protected Tweets” for more information.

Now get started!

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. annieldv

    One of the questions I get asked all the time by small business owners is whether to start an account in their own name or their business name. As even big brands recognise the power of the personal profile I always advise to stay personal and ‘do social networking’ rather than ‘do social media marketing’.
    Alas, I am outnumbered by the many agencies who ‘manage’ social media accounts for small businesses by updating all accounts twice a day with the same content and always advise using business names and logos.


    […] Tips for getting started with Twitter Getting started with Twitter is as easy as going to and signing up for a free account. Of course, there’s a great deal to it from that point onwards as you try and figure out how … […]

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