Getting started: 4 tips to master the Twitter learning curve

Twitter mhmmarketingimage credit:

Now that we’ve discussed the merits of using Twitter to drive business, we’ll move on to some basic but key ingredients to help you hit the ground running and make your Twitter account shine.

We’ll look at things to consider when setting up your user profile, how to “follow”, cover best times to tweet and get you started with that all-important first tweet. You’re only four steps away from tweeting like a pro!



MIT fellow and founder of Maria Popova goes a step further than a photo with a great graphic in her organisation’s trademark buzzy yellow

1. Setting up a dynamite user profile

Once you’ve created a handle (your chosen name preceded by the @ sign) and have sorted the basics like your adding your location and website, it’s time to get creative. We know that time is in short supply when you’re a small business owner, so we’ve picked three key elements that are crucial to a good Twitter profile.


Profile photo. Once you sign up for Twitter, you’ll be bestowed with Twitter’s generic profile photo icon – an egg. Fitting for virgin tweeters, you’d be surprised how many people never bother changing the icon, but that’s why you have us here to tell you not to make this mistake – it just looks unprofessional.

What’s best? It’s entirely up to you, but we recommend a headshot, and ideally one where you’re looking that look relaxed and happy – nothing too posed, and nothing too small. Twitter’s profile dimensions are 400 px  x 400 px, but profile photos are reproduced much smaller on your timeline, so make sure you’re clearly visible in the photo. And last but not least, choose a high quality photo – grainy, pixellated photos need not apply.

You might want to use your brand logo, but in practice the personal touch works best. Use you brand by all means for your handle (@name), but stick to a photo of the real you to engage people on a one to one level.


Bio. In true Twitter spirit, your biography needs to come in at under the 140 character limit. Do use hashtags – sparingly, as they will help you and your business get found on Twitter. If you – like us – find it awkward to write about yourself, we like the rule of the power of three, and don’t be afraid to get personal. Most important, be yourself – now is the time to let your personality shine through!

Don’t forget to be specific. If you do yoga, say so. Use hashtags, e.g. #communication to make yourself easily searchable.

Bio 2           Bio 3           Bio 1

Three of our favourite Twitter bios…


Artist Rachel Sussman lets her love for science shine through with a blackboard-formula background

Header image. Finally, it’s time to replace the listless blue strip behind your profile picture that Twitter uses as a default with something a little more – you guessed it – personal. Here, anything goes, so we suggest bridging the gap between the personal and the professional. Drop in a photo of your city, an artsy shot from your business, or you in action. Whatever you choose, try to make it relevant to you or your business. Handy tip: Twitter’s dimensions for the image are 1500 px (width) by 500 px (height).

Now that your profile is looking stellar, it’s time to get to the actual business of tweeting and interacting. To get you started, here are a few tips for Twitter newbies.


2. Be a follower

Twitter is all about bringing people together. The best place to start is Twitter’s search bar, where you can easily follow people who you want to develop relationships with or whom you admire. Hit the ‘follow’ button and their tweets will show in your newsfeed in real time. Not sure who to follow? Here are some places to start:

- Change makers, thought leaders and influential people
- People in your field that you admire
- People you’d like to get to know
- Professional bodies, organisations
- Your peers, colleagues or friends

Don’t forget, Twitter is very helpful. The platform will suggest followers to you based on who you are currently following, who they follow and related subjects and accounts. You can also search hashtags based on your interests and areas of expertise to search for potential customers, collaborators, influencers and conversations to get involved with.


3. When to tweetTwitterClock

There are as many ways to define the “ideal” time to tweet as there are opinions on the best times themselves. Here’s the deal: the so-called best times to tweet ultimately depend on what you want to achieve. If you’re hoping for some general engagement – favorites and retweets – aim for Twitter’s “peak” hours, when more people are online to see your tweet. Roughly speaking, these “peak times” are between 9-11am, 5-6pm and 8-10pm in your respective timezone, or indeed the timezone you are targeting.

If you want to connect with someone influential, though, you’re better off aiming for quieter times. During “off-peak” Twitter hours, fewer people are online and there is less ambient Twitter noise – so more chance your tweet will be seen. Roughly speaking, these off-peak times are between 6.30-8am and 10.30pm-midnight. Just remember to adjust your timing if you’re connecting with someone in a different timezone.

Our advice: if you’re new to Twitter, avoid getting hung up on times to tweet too much. Experimentation is key. Mix it up and see what works for you. You can always see your engagement level through the Twitter Analytics tool.


4. Leave the nest: it’s time to tweet!

Now that you have a killer profile and you’re up to speed on how and when to get your message out, it’s time to take that step and start tweeting.

Our advice: it’s all about little steps. Start off by retweeting tweets that resonate with you and your business. Then when you’re comfortable with getting messages across in less than 140 characters, try it yourself!

Start small, by sharing a story or article you’ve seen that resonates with you or tweeting about an interesting event or something that matters to you. Photos resonate particularly well with Twitter audiences, so don’t be afraid to share a photo if it’s meaningful and well placed.

Whatever you do, just tweet. Did you know that 44% of Twitter users have never sent a single tweet?(1) This demonstrates how powerful Twitter can be for following news stories, brands and trends, but it also means that you’ll be ahead of the pack when you do take that first step and press the ‘Tweet’ button for the first time.



If you need a little help understanding the Twitter language, we’ve pulled together a simple Twitter language guide to meanings which you can download here. And if you haven’t read it already, the first post in our Twitter series focuses on harnessing the power of Twitter for small business and how to define your strategy through our simple model. Look out for the next post in the series about managing your online reputation.