Getting Started with Twitter: Setting Up Twitter for Business

20 Aug

How tweet it is!

Of all of the social media platforms, Twitter is the most unintuitive for business owners. Its 140-character limit, fast pace and motto “What Are You Doing?” seem to relegate it to rather meaningless updates like “Stuck in traffic! Ugh!” However, if used correctly, Twitter can be an unusually effective way for businesses to communicate with potential customers. I’ll go into the ways you can use Twitter to promote your business in a later post.

Let’s start from the beginning. Here’s how to set up your Twitter account:

  1. First, go to Twitter and sign up for an account. When you choose your login name, or “handle,” choose carefully as this will be your identifier when you tell other people to connect with you. It should be either your company identity or a keyword combination (ex. @creditrepairhelp). My Twitter handle is @buzzoomba because I use it to drive people to my blog, Buzzoomba. The URL for my Twitter page is, but most people use the @ handle to designate their Twitter addresses.
  2. If you want to get an overview, you can read through the Twitter help guide.
  3. Create an avatar. An avatar is a small square image that appears next to your tweets as an identifier. If you are tweeting as an individual, you can upload a photo, but for business, I suggest creating an image that is a version of your logo. Because of its small size, you may not be able to fit your entire logo and if you upload it, it will chop it off. If it looks fine, keep it, otherwise you may want to pare it down to a smaller element.
  4. If you want to brand your Twitter site, you can upload a custom background, rather than using one of the default backgrounds provided by Twitter. Here is a good post on how to do that.
  5. Now that you are set up, the next step is to find people to follow. Twitter is the most open of the social media networks. Unlike LinkedIn, where you have to know a person before inviting them into your network and you need to actually specify how you know him, and Facebook, where your invitation must be accepted by the other person, in Twitter, you are free to follow just about anybody. Many people on Twitter will follow you back if you follow them, so in an attempt to build their list, many people simply do a search on a topic related to their business using Twitter Search and follow the people who come up in the search results. You can also search on people you know by typing in their email addresses.
  6. Start tweeting away! Twitter is a very fast platform because the more people you are following and the more they tweet, the quicker each tweet drops down from the top, so it can be challenging to stand out in the crowd. Plan to tweet your message five times a day, so that it is seen by the most people. You can mix it up by tweeting two different messages so it doesn’t get boring for people who have been on and seen one of your earlier tweets. Be conscious of how you use your words because of the short length you have to work with. Most people who include links in their tweets use a site that shortens the URL for Twitter. The most popular ones are and, although if you use a social feed aggregator like HootSuite and you bring in your blog feed, it will automatically give you a shortened URL that you can tweet.
  7. Understand the lingo. Because of the limited space, Twitter users (Twits for short) use abbreviations similar to the text messages you might see a teenager use and they also use special Twitter phrases. Here are a few:
  • Retweet (RT) – This is like forwarding on someone else’s tweet to all of your followers. When you see something useful that someone has retweeted, if you mouse over the tweet, at the bottom, you will see a link that says “Retweet,” and that’s all there is to it.
  • Reply – When you want to reply back to a particular one of your followers, follow the same procedure as above, and click “Reply,” then type your reply.
  • Hashtags – Hashtags are the # symbol and are used before a phrase that you want other people to be able to search on. For example, if you sell sports equipment and your tweet is about that, you may want to include #sportsequipment at the end of your tweet. People interested in sports equipment can then go to Twitter search and type in that phrase, and your tweet will appear in the results.
  • Direct Messages (DM) – You may want to talk directly to a follower without replying to something she has already said. In that case, you would use a direct message. Click on the person’s avatar or handle to go to her profile page. On the right side, under actions, click message and then type your message.

Twitter takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you will soon find yourself tweeting along with the rest of the flock.


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