Thursday, 9 May 2013

Thing 6: Setting up a Twitter account

It's Twitter time! Please don't instantly run away - I promise Twitter can be incredibly useful for people in our industry...

In fact, before we go any further, here's a slide-deck I made a while ago about the common reasons people give for NOT using Twitter, and what my answer is to all of them...

(By the way, if you're subscribing to this blog via email, it's always worth clicking on the title of each blog post so you're taken to the online version - this will mean you see all the pictures properly, and embedded presentations, videos etc.)

What is it?

Twitter is a short-form blogging platform which allows users to exchange public messages of 140 characters or less, known as Tweets. Tweets can be entirely text-based or they can contain multimedia such as images or video, and links to anything online. Tweeting is possible via desktop computer, phone, tablet, etc.
Your tweets are seen by other Twitter users who follow you; you see the tweets of users you follow. You can quickly build up a network of peers with shared interests. There are around half a billion Twitter users worldwide.

Why use it?

It is a brilliant, brilliant networking tool. It's great for connecting with useful people, chatting to people who work in the same jobs elsewhere, keeping in touch with new contacts, disseminating information about what you do, and above all (for me, anyway) getting help.

I use Twitter literally every day to help me with my job - I ask questions of people who are in the same role as me or who have done the things I'm doing before, and know what works and what doesn't. (For example, before launching this 23 Things programme I talked to friends on Twitter from Warwick and Oxford who have run them internally before.) Twitter has been vital for everything interesting that has happened to me professionally.

On Twitter the information comes to you, and allows you to keep up with new ideas and developments in your field. It allows you to develop (it enables CPD) beyond the confines of the specific role you do in your 9-5 job (or 9-5:24, in our case...). You can talk to people in real time or they can pick up tweets later, meaning you can chat to people across different time zones.

Plus, Twitter is a fantastic funnel for all your other social media presences (when you get them).

Activity: sign up! 

We'll go into a bit more detail about how to use Twitter next week, but for now the Thing 6 activity, which should take around 5 - 10 minutes, is just to sign up. If you already have an account, just put your feet up and relax.

First go to, put your name, email and a password into the box on the home-screen, and follow the steps from there. Keep in mind you'll need to choose a Twitter name that no one else has used yet. Shorter is better if possible. 

Two words of warning - the 'Captcha' system Twitter uses (where you get shown two words written in a distorted way, which you have to enter into a box to prevent spam) is notoriously tricky - you may need to try a few times (or press the button to request a new set of words to attempt) before it works. It'll lock you out for an hour if you get it wrong loads of times - I'm sorry about this, hopefully it won't happen but if it does please do try again later! The second thing is, Twitter tries to get you to follow 10 people when you first join. It's trying to be helpful, but it isn't - no one knows who 10 useful people are when they're new to Twitter, and it takes ages, and really you need a profile picture and a bio before you start following people. So my advice is, when it starts doing this, just delete everything in the URL after The address will be - whatever it says where I've put blahblahblah, just delete it and press they Return key. Twitter will then forget about trying to make you follow 10 people and leave you to your own devices... 

If you want to save some time on Thing 7, go into the settings of your new Twitter account and put in a short bio, and a picture. 

Next time we'll look at who to follow, what to Tweet, and how to get the most out of the platform. 

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