Why use Twitter?
Because tons of professional conversations are happening there, in real time, and you can’t benefit from participating unless you’re part of the chats. Twitter lets people around the world share ideas fast, and it’s not just people talking about what they had for breakfast.
People in the vanguard of their fields, the innovators out at the leading edge, tend to be rare. That makes it hard to find communities of like-minded innovators. Twitter means they can all talk to each other, in real time, for free.
If you already have a Twitter account, skip ahead to my Basic Concepts page.
Getting started — create an account
To get started, click this Follow @adkpiper link (which will set you up to connect with me) and click “Sign up” in the top right corner. It’ll take you to a signup page.
It’ll ask you for your full name. If you’re planning to use Twitter for work, it’s good to use your actual name, but this is up to you. Twitter doesn’t check or verify it. Whatever you put in this field gets displayed to other Twitter users.
You’ll get periodic notifications when people follow you on Twitter; choose the email address you want Twitter to send them to. (You can turn them off later if you want). This is also the email address for resetting your Twitter password, should you ever need that.
Create a password
Choose a password that you don’t use for anything else.
Choose your username
You’ll be identified on Twitter by your username or “handle”, which always has an @ symbol at the beginning. I am @adkpiper. Think of it like a nickname that gets displayed along with your full name (as entered above) whenever you say things on Twitter.
Many people use their real names as their usernames, like @deseraestage. Others use invented names like mine. It’s up to you. Pick one that’s as short as possible so it’ll be easy for others to type.
People do form impressions based on usernames, so be advised that if you choose @ilovebloodandgore or @backstreetboys4evarrr as your username, people will notice.
Create my account
Click to create your account. It’ll sign you in to Twitter and probably invite you to add a picture and a short bio.
Write a few words about who you are—make them related to what you want to use Twitter for. As of this writing, my bio reads: “Learning geek, math enthusiast, teacher, musician, instructional designer, former CS guy, suicide/crisis hotline director. Working toward becoming a polymath.“
You don’t have to upload a photo, but most people do. I’ve noticed that people without photos don’t seem to get as many followers. If you’re trying to connect with people on Twitter, it works better if they can get a sense of who they’re talking to. So add a picture!
The general custom is that everything on Twitter is public—it’s a conversation that anyone in the world can drop in on. Frame your statements with that in mind.
It’s possible to lock your account so that only people you follow (more on that in the next page) can see the things you post, but most people don’t do that. I use Twitter for public conversations and use other social media for private ones. It’s up to you, but I encourage you to leave your Tweets publicly viewable.
Once you’ve gotten your account set up, head to my Basic Concepts page to learn how to use your new account.