In chapter 2 we covered planning, objectives and listening. In this chapter we include of the basics of getting started including setting up a profile, branding your business account and understanding twitter etiquette.

Twitter was founded in 2006. Originally used by enthusiasts and early adopters as a simple and informal means of answering the question “What are you doing?” among their online friends, Twitter today is a sophisticated social networking tool with over 100 million users worldwide.

Twitter Elements

If you’ve never seen a Twitter website page before, take a look at this one, the Dell SMB team news page:

Let’s look at the major elements that form part of a Twitter home page:

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

Lists: Twitter accounts can be added to lists of Twitter accounts that other people create and curate. Lists can be about anything, literally. This link also will show lists that the account itself subscribes to as well. As with many other elements of a Twitter account, this gives you a strong sense of the community and interests surrounding a particular account.

Timeline: the conversation, collectively “Tweets.” This is the reverse-chronological view of DellSMBnews’ tweets as well as those made by others referencing DellSMBnews. In this way, you can track conversations and join in, too, if you wish.

Following: who DellSMBNews is following, and Followers (who’s following DellSMBNews). When you click on each link, you can see every Twitter handle: that gives you an opportunity to check any of those you want to find out more on, and follow them too. Overall, it gives you a good sense of the community surrounding this particular Twitter account.

The screenshot above shows a Twitter account in a web browser, as you’d see it on the Twitter website. What about mobile? Twitter looks good on your smartphone as these examples from an Android device show, making it easy to use and interact with Twitter wherever you are:


There are a great many more things you can do with Twitter than simply write 140-character posts. For example, Twitter is a great listening tool, enabling you to pay attention to topics and people of interest on this social channel.

 Sometimes you’ll see a tweet that you just have to share. Twitter's retweet feature helps you and others quickly share that tweet with all of your followers. 

The message will then be marked with the retweet icon or the letters “RT” and carry the original tweeter’s user name at the beginning of the tweet, as this example shows. RT your colleagues for added company exposure and relevancy in your tweets.

Setting Up Your Twitter Account

It’s worth spending a little time on setting up your account to get it right from the outset. To get started, go to http://twitter.com – add your name, email address and a password in the “New to Twitter?” box, and click “Sign up for Twitter.” It’s that simple.

Once you’ve done that first step to open your new Twitter account and followed the subsequent steps, you can get it set up in an effective way. To give you an idea, let’s look at the settings in an example Dell accounts.

  1. Upload a picture or other professional image that will be your avatar – the visual representation of you on Twitter.
  2. Add a brief bio. Include a link to a website – your LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+ profile, perhaps, or an external blog you write – as that enables others to verify you: an important element in building trusted relationships online.

With that, you’re set. You can start tweeting – “Hello world”! – but we recommend a little exploration of some good advice and how-tos that you will find helpful in using Twitter effectively.

Branding

Consider if you want to change the design, colours and background image to match your company’s branding on the Designs tab in Settings.

Twitter Dos and don’ts for small and mid-sized businesses

There is no right or wrong way to use Twitter. But there is a more effective way, from a business perspective. If you’re using the service to build your brand and business, here are best practice tips from Twitter to build your following, reputation and customers’ trust:

You can find more useful tips and advice in “50 Power Twitter Tips” by social media expert and author Chris Brogan. Read the article or watch the video.


Essential reading

1. How to customize your Twitter design - Advice from Twitter on making your presence on Twitter personal to you.
2. How to create a custom Twitter background - A step-by-step guide from HubSpot on creating your own custom background. Includes a video tutorial.
3. Twitter for business - Published by Twitter, this Web guide is a foundational reference that is packed full of advice, case studies, and tips and tricks on using Twitter effectively.