Welcome to 10 Days of Twitter! Let’s get started…
To start off with, you’ll need to sign up to Twitter. You can see people’s tweets without an account, by viewing their profile or by searching for a keyword, as it’s a very public social media channel. Without an account, though, you won’t be able to join in the conversation, and that’s the first and main thing to learn about Twitter:
Twitter is a conversation.
Setting up an account on Twitter is easy – but before you do that there are a few things to think about in terms of creating an engaging and effective profile:
- your @name (called your handle), which people will use to identify and direct messages to you;
- your avatar or profile picture, which is how people will pick your tweets out of their Twitter feed;
- your identifying information, such as your location and personal website or webpage;
- your ‘bio’ or strapline, which will describe who you are and why people might want to follow you;
- and the overall look of your Twitter profile, which makes it distinct and memorable when people view it.
- If you already have a Twitter account, then you might want to take some time to refine your profile taking into account your overall aims and audience, including thinking about whether you feel you need separate accounts for personal and teaching and/or research purposes.
Setting up your Account
If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit the site to set up an account (https://twitter.com/). We’ll also mention using Twitter to represent a group such as your course or library, but in the first instance, it might be best to explore Twitter in a personal capacity.
You’ll first need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up.
At the second stage, you need to think of a username, which will be your @name. This might be some version of your real name or, if your name is common and most variations of it have already been taken, you might think of a professional and memorable pseudonym. Don’t worry – you can change this later, and you can also add your real name to your profile so that it’s identifiably you. This is useful at conferences. If you want to set up an account for a course or library, then something which will be memorable and match other materials will be important.
The next steps of signing up on Twitter take you through finding people to follow, but we recommend you skip this step for now. We will come back to finding people to follow on Day Three, but Twitter will ask you to follow at least six people before you can move on to filling out your profile, so we suggest you follow these accounts as a good start:
Individual members of the CamDoT team:
- Georgina Cronin (@senorcthulhu)
- Ryan Cronin (@wrycrow)
- Emma Etteridge (@EmmaEtteridge)
- Isla Kuhn (@ilk21)
- Yvonne Nobis (@yvonnenobis)
- Claire Sewell (@ces43)
- Meg Westbury (@MegWestbury)
There is also a list of Cambridge library tweeters which you can check out now if you’d like (we’ll mention it again later in the course as well).
The next thing you should do is start to fill out your profile, so that when people look at it, they will feel encouraged to follow you.
Upload a profile picture. When skimming through a Twitter feed of all the people they follow, an eye-catching profile picture will help them pick your tweets out. It could be your face, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers at face-to-face events). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name. Make sure the image is clear enough, as it appear as a small icon. Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ or ‘profile head’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer! You can also add a ‘Header’ image which customises your profile page a little more.
Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use a pseudonym and abstract picture, your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’. If you are using Twitter to represent a module, course or department then the full version of its title would be something to add here.
Add a location. Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university you are affiliated with.
Add a URL to a personal website or webpage. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.
Add a ‘bio’. You have 160 characters to sum up who you are and what you might be tweeting about, to give people a reason to follow you. A blank or minimal bio isn’t very inviting, and suggests that you are too new to be interesting, that there is little to be gained from following you, or you are a spam account. A well-thought out bio is an important part of gaining new followers. Why not have a look at the bios on other tweeters’ profiles, and see what you find inviting or off-putting? If you intend to tweet in a professional capacity, it’s best to avoid too much about your hobbies and family or quirky, cryptic statements about yourself. Be aware of the public nature of the medium and conscious of your digital footprint at all times.
You can connect your Twitter account to post automatically to your Facebook account too, if you have one. Think carefully about the two audiences for Facebook and Twitter- is this something you want to do? Or would you rather keep them separate?
People will often view your profile page when deciding whether to follow you, and you might give out the URL to your profile page e.g. on your email signature or business card if you want to ask someone to follow you, so it is worth making it informative and distinctive. Today we’re mostly looking at the information in the tab at the top labelled ‘Me’, which is where people will find your profile:
Explore customising your Twitter profile page in the Settings.
Click on the cog icon at the top, and select Settings. In the Settings, you can:
Change your Header image – the one that sits behind your avatar. Go to Profile to upload an image.
Change the Background of the whole page under Design, using one of the pre-made themes or design and upload your own.
You can create more Twitter accounts, associated with different email accounts, if you wish. These might be for other facets of your online life, such as personal contacts, or to represent your research interests. It’s best not to mix audiences too much – for example, if you use Twitter for a hobby, then a separate account for professional purposes means that you aren’t filling people’s Twitter feeds with things that don’t interest them. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!
Now, to let us know how you’re getting on, why not fill in this very short form with your Twitter handle and a link to the URL of your profile? Or if you have any other comments or questions, let us know.
So you have an account on Twitter now, with an engaging profile which invites others to follow your tweets. That’s enough for day one and you’re already halfway to earning your first CamDot badge!
CamDoT is adapted from Ten Days of Twitter for Learning Developers by Helen Webster which is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.