Give Twitter A Try: How to get started on Twitter even if you don’t really want to

By Andrea Rowland

Andrea_RowlandI used to think I was allergic to Twitter. Whenever a friend or colleague asked for my “handle” (and it happened A LOT), I’d break out in a cold sweat and run for the nearest exit. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I wasn’t on Twitter. I was too busy to learn ANOTHER new technology. I had a job. I had a family. I had a life.

And then I wrote a book.

Where could I connect with other authors to learn how they went about getting their books published? Stay on top of trends and trendsetters? Join conversations about landing a literary agent and writing a proposal and all the other stuff I didn’t yet know about the publishing industry? Twitter.

This time, I didn’t flee. I was reluctant but resolved to give Twitter a try. 

If you want to connect with like-minded individuals (and businesses) to learn, share and promote, Twitter can be an amazing online platform. As I feared, it can also be overwhelming for newbies. Hashtags. Mentions. Justin Bieber. Frankly, it was a little scary at first.

Start slowly and carry a big stick

Luckily, there are some really great resources out there to help ease entry into the Twitterverse. Twitter’s own getting started and Twitter for Business guides are a smart start. And one of the most social-savvy people I know, Shawn Pfunder (@pfunder), has penned an entertaining and informative series of blog posts that kicks off with “Twitter for people who hate Twitter.

He breaks getting started on Twitter down into manageable morsels that begin with the basics, including an overview of fundamental Twitter terms. Here’s an abbreviated glimpse:

Tweet. It’s the primary (made up) verb for Twitter. … He tweeted. She tweets. I love tweeting. We will tweet and retweet until others recognize how clever and charming we really are.

140. The length of your tweet—in characters. … Most people hate reading. It’s hard. But 140 characters? We can do that.

Replies. Replies are all of those goofy at-symbols (@) you see in tweets. … It’s an easy way to connect and let someone else know you exist.

Retweet. Self-explanatory, right? Prefixes are great. A retweet is a tweet that happens twice.

Hashtag. Hashtags are categories. It’s a pound symbol followed by a word or a phrase smashed together to be one word. … Something like #pancakes or #crossfit or #babyphotography. They make it easier for you to connect with people who care about the same stuff you do.

That’s pretty much all you need to know before you sign up for an account on Twitter. But then it’s time to choose your Twitter name (aka your “handle”). Like a website address, it’s got to be unique and you don’t want it to be so long that it’s a hassle to type or to remember. Shawn suggests using your domain name:

“The first part AND the second part. You know, all the stuff after the dot. Chances are good that you’ve already figured out a unique domain name for your business; why not use the same name on Twitter?”

Twitter Signup

With your handle in hand, you’ll move on to filling out your Twitter profile. This is where you’ll put the key info you want people to know about you — like who you are (in a nutshell), where you’re located, and a link to your website. Don’t stress about it; you can edit your profile whenever you want, updating your photos and links.


Now you’re ready to start exploring. Twitter isn’t so intimidating when you tackle the technology one step at a time. What’s next? Spying on other tweeps.

Oh, wondering about the stick? It’s for steering clear of the most annoying tweeters. Like Justin Bieber.

Bio: A former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for today’s go-getters through her work as an editor at GoDaddy. Connect with Andrea on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the Go Daddy Training Hub.