How to Start a Twitter for Your Blog

The easiest way to learn to use Twitter is to do it. Here’s what you need to do to sign up and get started. You have the hard job of figuring out what to tweet about!

How to sign up for a Twitter account

Follow these steps to set up a Twitter account:

  1. Point your web browser to Twitter.

    The Twitter home page opens.

  2. Enter your first and last name in the Full Name field.

    You're limited to 20 characters in this field.

  3. Provide an e-mail address to use with your Twitter account in the Email field.

  4. Create a password in the Password field.

  5. Click Sign up for Twitter.

    Twitter loads the Create an Account page, which confirms the information you already provided.

  6. Choose a Twitter username and type it in the Username field.

    Unlike some social networks, you can change your username later.

    Your username is limited to 15 characters, and while you type in your desired username, Twitter checks to see whether it's available. If you don't get a green OK message, try again until you find an available username.

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  7. Click Create My Account.

    Twitter creates your new account and loads the Who to Follow page. You also receive an e-mail that contains your new account information at the address you used to sign up.

How to find friends to follow on Twitter

After you set up your account, you can let Twitter help you find friends, family, and colleagues who are also Twitter users by giving the service access to your contact lists in Gmail, Yahoo!, or AOL. If you don't have contact lists with any of these tools, click the Skip This Step link at the bottom of this screen.

To let Twitter access your contact list in an online e-mail tool and find people to follow, follow these steps:

  1. On the Find Friends page, click Search Contacts beside the name of the service that you use to keep track of your contacts, such as Gmail.

    Twitter loads a login information screen.

  2. Provide your login information for the service to which you want to give Twitter access, such as your e-mail address and password.

    Twitter doesn't keep this information; you're granting the company only one-time access to your contact list.

    If you are already logged into the service you use for contacts, Twitter gives you a screen requesting access to the service.

  3. Review the provided list of contacts who have Twitter accounts and follow the provided instructions to select those you want to follow.

    Twitter connects to the service and loads your contact information, matching the e-mail addresses from your list against the e-mail addresses of other Twitter users.

    You can always add more people later.

  4. Select anyone whom you want to follow from a page of suggested users and click Finish.

    If you prefer not to follow any of these popular Twitter users, simply click Finish without selecting any of them.

    Twitter loads your personal home page, which displays messages from all the people you're following.

If you'd prefer not to run your contact list through Twitter, you can easily search for individual users by clicking the Discover link that appears in the navigation area at the top of all Twitter pages and then using the search tools provided.

How to Tweet

After you sign up for a Twitter account, it's time for the fun part — your first tweet! You can send a tweet pretty darn easily from the website. Follow these steps:

  1. Point your browser to Twitter and log in to Twitter if you aren't already logged in.

    Twitter loads your personal home page, which displays messages from all the people you're following.

  2. Click the blue quill icon in the upper-right corner.

    While you type, watch the number at the bottom of the field; it tells you the number of characters still available.

  3. Click Tweet.

    Twitter posts your tweet into your message stream, where your followers can read and respond to it. If any of them subscribe to your updates with their phones, they receive a text message that contains your tweet.

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Posting a tweet is just the beginning. Other kinds of messages include the following:

  • @ messages: When you want to direct a message to a specific person but still include it in your main message stream (which means all your followers, and the public, can see it), start your message with the symbol followed by the username of the person. For example

    @b4dbook i’m reading your chapter on Twitter right now!

    To view similar tweets aimed at you, click the @Connect tab in the menu of your Twitter page.

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  • Direct messages: You send private, direct messages to only a specific Twitter user. To send a direct message to a user, that user must be following your account. To send a direct message, visit the user's profile page and click the Message icon; it looks like a small envelope. Or click the gear symbol in the top right of your screen and select Direct message.

    Be careful about sending direct messages — you can too easily post things publicly that you meant to be private!

  • Retweets: Do you see a tweet in your stream that you want to rebroadcast to all your followers? That's called retweeting. To retweet, simply move your mouse cursor over the tweet to make the Retweet link visible. Click the link, and the tweet is automatically sent to your followers.

    Alternatively, you can copy and paste the text of the tweet into the What's Happening? field, preface it with RT, and even add your own remark, as below:

    that makes so much sense! RT @dbarefoot On a similar bent, there's a great quote about creativity being something plus frequent iteration.

    It’s considered good form to include the username of the person you're retweeting.

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