10 Things to Do When Getting Started on Twitter

For most things you want to accomplish in life, getting started is often the hardest part of the whole process.

The same is true for social media.

Whether it’s the anxiety of not knowing what to do, or the fear of possibly looking dumb—it’s easy to put off signing up for Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest until tomorrow … or next week … or next month…

So, to help you stop procrastinating and start achieving your social media goals…

Here’s a list of the first 10 things you should do to get started on Twitter.

1. Choose the right username

The first step in getting started on Twitter is creating your account. When creating your account, it’s important to remember that your username—or as it’s called on Twitter: your “handle,” is outward facing and will be what the public uses to identify your business.

Hopefully, your business name will be available (Constant Contact’s handle for example is @ConstantContact), but if not, you’ll want to come up with something that will still make sense to your followers (for example In a Pickle Restaurant in Waltham had to use @InAPickleRest).

You want your handle (@ConstantContact) to be around 10 – 15 characters so your customers can “mention” your business without using too many of the 140 they have to use.

2. Create a bio that captures your business

Twitter is widely recognized as one of the most open social networks, in that, most of the communication on the site takes place in front of people in the news stream (rather than on individual pages or groups). Keep in mind when creating your bio, more people will find you on Twitter that have no previous knowledge of who you are or what you do than on any other network.

If you had just a few seconds (or in this case 160 characters) to explain your business to a complete stranger, what would you say? That will be your bio.

Boloco’s bio perfectly captures who they are, what they do, and what they believe in.

3. Upload a photo or image that makes you stand out

Don’t underestimate the importance of picking the right picture or image for your profile (and please, please, please don’t send a tweet until you have uploaded one). For businesses, the perfect profile image will be one that your customers already know and associate with your business—like your company logo. For individuals, you’ll want to use a close-up head shot and make sure you are the only person in the photo. (You do have the option to change your profile picture in the future, but I don’t recommend it, at least until you’ve established yourself.)

Mercury Brewing Company’s Ipswich Ale has gained national recognition and its logo is well known to people who love their beer.

4. Introduce yourself by sending your first tweet

Some people may disagree with me here, but I think now is the perfect time to send your first tweet. It’s not going to be anything earth shattering, and you won’t have any followers (yet) to see it, but it will let people know you are a real person or business and not a robot or spammer. Make the tweet something simple; your introduction to the Twitter world.

I recommend something like this:

5. Find the right people to follow

Who you follow on Twitter will dictate the type of content you have access to and the quality of the relationships you’re able to establish. For this reason, you’ll want to set up some criteria, based on your experience, your industry, and what you’re trying to accomplish. People you want to follow could include: friends, professionals in your industry, other local businesses, colleagues, and even current or potential customers.

When you’re starting out, the key is to follow businesses, similar to yours that are doing it well—don’t mimic everything they tweet, but pay attention to how they are engaging and the type of content they share.

Keep your eye on Twitter’s “Who to Follow” feature (in the left column) for recommendations for people and businesses that fit your interests.

6. Tell your network you’re on Twitter

Before we go any further, I need to tell you something you need to know: growing your following on Twitter is not easy—especially if you’re starting from scratch. However, lucky for you, your business already has a following and many of those people that shop at your business.

If someone has already joined your email list, they most likely would love to connect with you on Twitter too.

Send out an email to your contact list, inviting people to follow you on Twitter. It’s easy to do with Constant Contact’s email templates.

7. Get the tools you need

Like anything else, if you want to be successful on Twitter you want to make sure you have the right tools. There are a number of tools out there including three you’ll want to have access to from day one.

  • Monitor your profile on the go with the Twitter mobile app
  • Schedule tweets and track your reach with Hootsuite
  • Stay on top of your activity with Nutshell Mail

 8. Create your first Twitter List

Twitter Lists are a cool feature provided by Twitter to let users organize the people they follow into specific groups based on industry, relationship, expertise, etc. When you’re first starting out, Lists won’t need to be a top priority because you’ll still be growing your community, but I do recommend creating at least one List to let yourself get accustomed to using them. It’s much easier to keep your contacts organized from the beginning than to try to organize them when you really need them.

9. Save some searches

Similar to Lists, Saved Searches let users organize their content, but do it based on a specific topic rather than on specific users. Saved searches work exactly like they sound. You find a topic of interest or relevance to your business, search for it in Twitter’s “Discover” tab, and then save it for future reference. After saving it, you can easily go back and see results as they appear in real-time.

Some ideas for searches to save include: your business name, your name, the city/town that you’re in, industry related topics, popular hashtags, etc…

10.   Connect your touch points

A recent study found that 80.5% of small business websites do not link to social media networks. Please do not make this mistake. Connecting your website to your Twitter profile will help drive traffic and organically build your social following. You’ll also want to make sure you’re inserting a link into your email newsletter with a strong call-to-action.

The Open Door uses a call-to-action and a link to the profile to help grow their following on Twitter.

Don’t forget to have a plan!

Let’s rewind quickly to the point when you first decided to sign up and log on to Twitter.

What were you trying to accomplish? Were you looking to drive more business? Increase brand awareness? Establish yourself as an expert in your industry?

Just being on Twitter won’t be enough to accomplish those goals—even if you follow these 10 steps to getting started. What will allow you to achieve those goals is having a social strategy about the way you plan to engage on Twitter, the type of content you want to share, and the milestones you hope to achieve.

Your strategy probably will change once you get started, but without having one before you launch your first tweet, you won’t make it much further than these first 10 steps.

Are you on Twitter? How has it helped your business? Let us know in the comments below!


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  1. Good post, Ryan. I would add #11: Be active. Try to set some resonable goals for yourself. Try this: I will publish one tweet per day about what I am working on, and I will retweet a useful post from one person per day who I follow. That’s a good way to get your feet wet building a personal brand and building social media relationships with people.

  2. This is terrific information, and just what I needed as a newbie to Twitter! Thanks.

    • Ryan Pinkham •

      Great to hear Debra. Best of luck with everything and feel free to tweet at me if you run into any questions! @ryanpinkham

  3. Hi Ryan
    Item 10 of your blog ” connect your touch points
    You make the point ” connecting web site to twitter account
    No.1.I therefore have to spend money ( little available) to promote web site and
    request anyone interested to go to twitter.
    2. Would it not be better to go from Twitter profile to web site.

    No 2 would seem more sensible ( Cheaper) and getting followers is fairly easy.
    My business B2C. Which do you recommend and why?
    I have a similar problem with FB and Pinterest-the problem being, I cannot find
    any instructions anywhere to make the connection
    Thanks for blog very interesting

    • Ryan Pinkham •

      @bernardandminnettedeux It’s definitely important to include your website in your Twitter profile (and it’s free to do, so why not?!) But I also think it’s important to link your website to your social media outlets, if it works with your budget.

      I know that in my experience, as an active social media user, whenever I find a new business and visit their website for the first time, I always look to follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.

      This is also important if you have a blog or email newsletter. Simply including a “Follow us on Twitter” link can drive a lot of new people to your social media channels and can improve the chances of turning those first touches into new customers. Also, if you have a physical store or office location, or are already doing any “traditional” advertising then you promote the fact that you’re on Twitter there.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Thanks for the tips…it’s nice to hear we’re on the right path : )
    One thing you didn’t mention is to consider having your Facebook posts auto post to Twitter. That may not work for everyone, but for us it’s a way to make double use of our content and keep our Twitter flow active.

    • Ryan Pinkham •

      Auto posting can be a great tool, especially when you’re just getting started on Twitter. One thing I always advise is to just make sure you’re still engaging with your Twitter followers directly. In most cases, people choose to be on different networks to receive different types of content, so it’s important to not let Twitter become just a a feed for your Facebook content or vise versa.

  5. Thank you. This was very helpful!

  6. #Goodblog, I would also say add a # to your topic of conversation so people can search for you too

  7. Dorothy •

    social networks when you are still new are difficult to use and there are confusing i have posted your blog on on facebook for those who have not yet joined and are still in he dilemma of using twitter so that
    that they will have better understanding . thanks to you Ryan

  8. Great material, especial for me i have not understood twitter, thanks for the clarification.


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