Posted by: yu5h | May 6, 2009

Getting a handle on Twitter

You have put aside your trepidations and have decided to create a Twitter account.  Here are three tips as you create a username (also known as your Twitter handle) and set up an account on Twitter.  I would recommend setting up a personal account and familiarizing yourself with Twitter before creating an account for your company, though it might not be a bad idea to park the Twitter handle for your brand.

#1) Short usernames are better:  Messages posted on Twitter can be no longer than 140 characters.   While the number of characters in your username does not count against your 140 character limit when you are tweeting, it does affect the virality of your voice.  This manifests itself when I want to rebroadcast your tweet (known as retweeting, or RT).  Whenever I retweet, “RT @yourusername” is appended to your tweet.  If your Tweet was 130 characters in length, the retweet is now 146 characters.  I am forced to have to edit it because of the 140 character limitation, thereby adding friction to the virality of your message.

#2) Should I be anonymous?  Twitter is designed to be very open and if you are using an anonymous account but have started building up a follower base (these are people who are subscribing to your tweets) then it can be difficult to migrate them to another account.  Twitter rewards authenticity and my recommendation would be to create a username which you can see yourself using the long run.  Also, you have the option of making your tweets only visible to those whom you have authorized.  You can activate this feature once you have created your account by checking the “Protect my updates” option under Settings. 

#3) Profile information?  Profile information such as your bio and location are entirely optional.  This information makes it easier for others to find you on tools such as TweepSearch, therefore enhancing your discoverability, and also gives your account more credibility when people decide whether on not to follow you. 

Do share comments on your sign up experience and let us know if you have any questions as you think about establish your personal and your company’s presence on Twitter.

PS: When you set up your account on Twitter you will be presented with a list of suggested users.  I would advise against the ‘Select All’ option as that will result in you receiving tweets from everyone on that list; however, do follow a few accounts as it will give you some sense of how others are using Twitter and what types of content they are sharing.  I’d also like to invite you to follow the pmtc09 handle and engage with us through Twitter.

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