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The Newcomers Guide To Twitter Part 3: Setting Up Your Profile #New2Twitter

The Newcomers Guide To Twitter is a ten-part series of introductory lessons, tips and suggestions for people using Twitter for the first time. Please share these articles with your friends, family, colleagues and anyone you know who is struggling to “get Twitter”.

So, you’ve chosen the perfect username and you’ve registered your account at Twitter.com. Now you need to fully complete your Twitter Profile information, which is located in the Settings section of your account.

To access this:

1. Login at Twitter.com
2. Click the little cog icon at the top-right of the Twitter.com homepage, and choose Settings

Why is this important? Your Twitter Profile has a number of behind-the-scenes options that let you change how your Profile appears to others and how it behaves on and whilst using Twitter. Making the assumption that you’re using Twitter because you want to get noticed, and you want to get followed and engage with other users, there are a series of things that you should do to ensure that your Twitter Profile is not only visible and appealing to other users, but that it is optimised to rank as highly as possible in relevant search queries (both on and off Twitter).

Your Twitter Profile Settings has eight sections: Account, Password, Mobile, Email Notifications, Profile, Design, Apps and Widgets. As our goal here is to configure your Twitter Profile correctly to maximise exposure and interest, we’re going to focus on three of these areas: Account, Profile and Design.

Account

The Account section of your Twitter Profile houses a number of important settings, including your Username (which, remember, you can change at any time), account email address (this can also be changed at any time), language and timezone settings and more.

This is also the place where, should you choose, you can elect to make your Twitter account private by protecting your tweets. Why would anyone want to do this? It’s a good question. Sometimes, folks want to use social networks but, for their own personal reasons, desire to restrict access to their updates to individuals who they individually authorise. When somebody protects their tweets on Twitter, only users they approve will be able to read them from that point forward. You can protect and unprotect your tweets on an ongoing basis. However, as a new user to Twitter – certainly if you’re hoping to use Twitter for business – I strongly recommend that you do not protect your tweets. Ever. It’s restrictive and limiting, and while I respect those who require more privacy, protecting your Twitter Profile very much goes against the grain of what Twitter is: an open, public social network. So, leave that box unchecked, and don’t protect your account.

Profile

This section allows you to change a number of important parts of your Twitter Profile which will have a direct impact on how other users of Twitter see you on the network: your Profile Photo and Header Photo images, name, location and bio.

Profile Photo - Your Profile Photo matters. If you’re an individual using Twitter, we want to see you. Not your baby, and not your cat, and not a close-up of your eyeball. You. If you’re a brand, always use your logo, or the most recognisable thing about your company (i.e., your biggest-selling product). Upload the photo to a size of at least 400×400 pixels and in as high a resolution as possible. It’s okay to change your Profile Photo from time-to-time, but avoid doing this too frequently as people come to associate your image with you and you’ll get lost in their stream if you change it too often.

Header Photo - Your Header Photo is essentially Twitter’s take on Facebook’s Cover Photo. Upload a Header Photo on Twitter.com, or on the official iPhone, iPad or Android Twitter apps, and the same image will be visible to anyone who views your Profile on any of these platforms. You can update your Header Photo at any time, and the change will be made immediately. Twitter recommends uploading an image of 1252 pixels wide by 626 pixels high for optimal viewing across all devices, with a maximum image size of 5MB in JPG, PNG and (non-animated) GIF formats. Now, here’s the thing: when a user visits your Twitter Profile for the first time it’s highly likely that your Header Photo is the very first thing that they will see. Hence, you must strive to make a good first impression with a nicely-designed and cropped image that makes best use of the space. That said, it isn’t going to change the world, and it isn’t going to convince somebody to follow you, but it could put them off, so keep it relevant and keep it slick, but don’t worry too much about investing in a graphic designer.

Name - This is your real name, not your username. Don’t get smart or clever: use your real name. If you’re a brand, use your brand name.

Location - If you’re a brand, enter your HQ details here. If you’re a small business, be more specific. If you’re an individual, keep it more generic.

Bio - Complete your bio  - in full. While it’s certainly true that many people don’t read Twitter bios, the people that matter do. Keep it up to date. Get to the point. Don’t use in-jokes that only your friend(s) will understand. Be clear and concise. Watch your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Don’t assume your “hilarious” sense of humour is apparent to everybody. If you have to tell people that you’re funny, you’re not. Note that you have 160 characters available to you for your bio (not 140) – use them wisely. Also note that your bio is searchable both in Twitter Search and, perhaps more importantly, Google and other major search engines. You want to show up in these places for the right reasons, correct? Then make the effort, and write a killer bio.

Design

The Design section of your Twitter Profile allows you to customize the way that your Twitter Profile appears, both for you and others. Twitter provides a number of premade themes that you can use to customize your Profile, and when you’re getting started one of these is more than adequate. However, once you’re better established, a custom theme is the preferred route and Twitter makes this relatively simple to implement. Brands should be using a customized theme from day one, but much like for your Cover Photo, your choice of theme isn’t going to be a major factor in how many people follow or engage with you on Twitter. It can, however, put people off, so if you can spare the time and expense a well-designed, relevant and informative theme (contact information, etc) is recommended. Note that themes on Twitter are non-functional – they’re simply wallpaper, and you cannot add links or any other kind of feature to a theme.

This post is part of The Newcomers Guide To Twitter, a ten-part series of introductory lessons, tips and suggestions for people using Twitter for the first time or thinking about signing up for a profile. Click here to see the other posts in this series (and if you’re just getting started, here’s part one), and please hit the comments to share your own Twitter tips.

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