How to Set Up and Be Twittering Within the Hour!

Twitter has grown by 974% in the last 12 months and shows now signs of slowing down. It’s hitting the UK’s press almost everyday and now everyone seems to want to get on Twitter.

Since the turn of the year Twitter users in the UK have trebled. Last week Twitter became one of the 100 most visited websites in the UK for the first time. It ranked 91st placing, above online heavyweights such as Expedia UK (96), Gumtree (100), easyJet (101), Digital Spy (103) and Money Supermarket (105).

However, the service is likely to be even more popular than the numbers imply, as figures are only measuring traffic to the main Twitter website. If the people accessing their Twitter accounts via mobile phones and third party applications (such as Twitterrific, Twitterfeed and Tweetdeck) were included, the numbers would be even higher.

We thought as digital marketing experts, that it would be a useful exercise to twitter you through “How to set yourself up with a Twitter account.”

It doesn’t take long to get set-up with Twitter, but it helps if you know the basics. There are just a few easy steps to getting yourself Twittering within the hour….

How to set up your account

Go to Twitter.com and click on the Get Started-Join! button. Enter a username, password, and email address. Click on the I accept. Create my account button.

Twitter will then ask if you would like to see if some of your friends are on Twitter already by checking your online address book. However, your contacts will have to be in one of the recognized and supported services: GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, or MSN.

This wasn’t that helpful to me initially, since most of my contacts in Outlook. However, I do have a GMail account, so I just exported my contacts from outlook and then imported them into GMail. It worked flawlessly. However, if you get stuck or are unsure of how to do this, forget this step. You can have loads of fun adding and finding your friends later.

Check your settings. Make sure you are on your Twitter home page: Twitter.com/home. Click on the Settings link. Now enter your full name in the “Name” field. Make sure the “Time Zone” field is set correctly. Enter your location. Do not tick “Protect my updates” unless you only want those people who you approve to be able to receive your twitter updates, if you tick this, it will seriously limit the enjoyment and excitement of twitter.

Now upload your picture. Verify that you have a digital photo of yourself on your computer. A 150 x 150 pixel head shot that I use for all social networking sites. (You can use iPhoto, Skitch, ImageWell, or any other photo editor to crop and size your image to the proper proportions.)

If you are still on Twitter’s home page, click on the Settings link. Now click on the Picture tab, select your file, and then click the Save button. You have now set up your account and are well on the way to sending and receiving your first twitter.

Set up your phone. Twitter is much more fun if you connect it to your mobile phone. By doing so, you can receive updates from those you are following (or just some of them) as well as send your own updates. It’s all done through text messaging (eg SMS).

However, be forewarned: while Twitter doesn’t charge anything for this service, your mobile phone service provider might. It’s a good idea to check with them and make sure you are on an “unlimited text messaging plan.” You don’t want to be surprised with a giant phone bill.

Again, under the Settings link, click on the Devices tab. Enter your mobile phone number and click on the Save button. Now take your mobile phone and text message the code Twitter gives you. Then you need to wait a while, eventually, Twitter will confirm to you that your device is registered.

Now, while still on your mobile phone, set up a contact named “Twitter.” For the mobile phone number you were given, now every time you want to send a Twitter update, you just need to send it to this contact name.

Almost there now!

Time to follow some family or friends. If you haven’t already done so, start searching for your family and friends by clicking in the “Search” field at the top of your home page. You can either type in a name or a location. When you do, you will get a list of all the people on Twitter who match your search request.

You can begin “following” them by simply clicking on the Follow button. If you want to also follow them on your cell phone, then you can turn the “Device Updates” to “on.” This allows you to choose who you want to follow on your mobile, but regardless of this, you will be able to see everyone you follow on your Twitter home page.

It’s useful to learn the basic commands. Think of Twitter as you giving a questions and answers session to a room full of people, it is all about the conversations that will evolve. So, when you update your Twitter status, remember you are speaking to the whole room, everyone can hear what you have to say.

If you want to “Reply” to a Twitter, you are actually directing your comments to one specific person in the Twitter room, but loud enough, that everyone else can hear, when you use the “Reply” function, you automatically address the person by using their Twitter user name preceded by the “@” symbol.

For example: @jeremy_dent – I suggest that you call into The Red Bull Stockport tonight at 8pm to discuss this.

Everyone who is following me will see the message, but I am specifically directing it to jeremy.

You can also use the Reply function to refer to someone by name.

For example:I’m headed to the Red Bull Stockport now with @johnsmith and @davejones I am looking forward to seeing their new creative ideas.

The thing about @replies is that they are “clickable links.” If someone who is following me, clicks on one of the names, they will automatically go to that person’s Twitter page. This will give them the opportunity to follow that person, too if they know them or feel that what they have to say would be interesting.

Direct messages

Continuing with the idea of a conversation with a room full of people, you can also use the “direct message” function. This is like whispering in one person’s ear. They can hear you, but no one else can. You are directing the message to them and only them.

For example: d jeremy_dent Can you bring my laptop with you to the presentation please?

Or: d davejones tied up with this presentation for tomorrow, count me out for a drink after work.

To stop all Twitter updates to your mobile phone, send:

off

To turn them back on send:

on

You can find loads more questions, answers and functions to help you get more out of twitter on the FAQ page on the Twitter site.

Start Twittering. So now the fun begins, you are all setup. It’s time to start Twittering. You can do this from your Twitter home page or from your mobile phone.

The only thing you need to remember is that the message you want to send can be no longer than 140 characters. If you use the Web page, the entry field will automatically count your characters. As you use Twitter more and more, you’ll unconsciously know how long this is. But if you do go over 140 characters, it’s no big deal. Your message will just be automatically shortened.

How often should you Twitter?

That’s the 30-character question! Some people say “Don’t Twitter more than six times a day.” As bosses will start asking how you get the time!!! Others think 10-12 including leisure time periods and replies should be the upper limit. Obviously, there’s a personal balance here. You will see when you start to follow friends and business influencers that some people Twitter all day, everyday!!

The real point is whether or not you are adding something of value to the conversation everyone can hear!. No one wants to hear the hour by hour account of your life. However, some interesting or useful knowledge you pick up that is cause for comment is good. However, there are no hard or fast rules governing this, but if you only twitter drivel people will stop following you.

Ideally you should consider every Twitter update as a branding impression. You are developing a reputation with your online friends and followers, so always make sure you are adding something to the conversation.

Remember – Be careful. You always need to be cautious when Twittering. It’s probably not a good idea to say something like, “I’m going away to the sun with the lads for a week of fun, at the airport now and forgot to lock my house up.” Bad idea, for obvious reasons.

You need to think about the fact that strange people and criminals have Twitter accounts, too. You really need to be cautious about sharing too much private information that could compromise your safety or that of your family or possessions. Some women have also had experiences with stalkers, so it may be safer sometimes to Twitter after you have been somewhere, not before. Otherwise, you might find people showing up to watch you, its happened, be careful!

Start to add some Twitter software. There are now loads of applications to enhance the twitter experience, just Google them or look on the twitter site, here are a couple that you might want to look at first:

Facebook has a number of applications that automatically add all your Twitter updates to your Facebook wall. Once you set this up, you won’t ever have to make another Facebook update.

Twitteriffic. This is a piece of desktop software for monitoring and updating your Twitter account

Twhirl. This is similar to Twitteriffic.

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