Day 1 of #LD10DoT: Setting up your account

To start off with, you’ll need to sign up to Twitter. You can see people’s tweets without an account, by viewing their profile or by searching for a keyword, as it’s a very public social media channel. Without an account, though, you won’t be able to join in the conversation, and that’s the first and main thing to learn about Twitter:

Twitter is a conversation.

Setting up an account on Twitter is the easy part! There’s still a few things to think about, though, in terms of creating an engaging and effective profile using

  • your handle (@name), which people will use to identify and direct messages to you
  • your avatar or profile picture, which is how people will pick your tweets out of their twitter feed, on a quick glance
  • your identifying information, such as your location and personal website or webpage
  • your ‘bio’ or strapline, which will sum up who you are and why people might want to follow you
  • the overall look of your twitter profile, which makes it distinct and memorable when people view it
  • and additional accounts, which you might want to set up to appeal to different audiences

If you already have a Twitter account, then you could use this post to refine your profile and your overall aims and audience, including if you feel you need a second account for different audiences and purposes.

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit the site to set up an account. We’ll also look at using Twitter to represent a group such as your Learning Development service, but in the first instance, it might be best to explore Twitter in a personal capacity first.

  • You’ll firstly need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up.
  • At the second stage, you need to think of a username, which will be your @name. This might be some version of your real name or, if your name is common and most variations of it have already been taken, you might think of a professional and memorable pseudonym. Don’t worry – you can change this later, and you can also add your real name to your profile so that it’s identifiably you. Useful at conferences! If you want to set up an account not for yourself but to publicise your service, or other institutional group such as a conference, then something which will be memorable, clearly reflect your service, and work well on publicity will be essential.
  • The next steps of signing up on Twitter take you through finding people to follow, but I recommend you skip this step for now – we will look at it in a future post!
  • The next thing you should do is start to fill out your profile, so that when people look at it, they will feel more encouraged to follow you.
  1. Upload a profile picture. When skimming through a twitter feed of all the people they follow, an eye-catching profile picture will help them pick your tweets out. It could be your face, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers in real life at conferences!). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name, as long as it’s striking. Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer! You can also add a ‘Header’ image which customises your profile page a little more. If you are setting up an account for a service then the service logo is an obvious choice, but do check with your institution’s policy on the use of logos with the communications and marketing team.
  2. Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use an abstract pseudonym and picture (as I do – I have a common name!), your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’ – again, useful at conferences! If you use Twitter to represent a service or group, then the ‘full’ version of its title would be something to add here.
  3. Add a location (this could also be an institution). Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university you are affiliated with.
  4. Add a URL to a personal website or webpage. You can have only one, so perhaps your university webpage, if you have one, would be most appropriate here. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.
  5. Add a ‘bio’. You have 160 characters to sum up who you are and what you might be tweeting about, to encourage people and give them a reason to follow you. Again, a blank or minimal bio isn’t very inviting, and suggests that you are too new to be interesting, that there is little to be gained from following you, or you are a spam account. A well-thought out bio is an important part of gaining new followers. Have a look at the bios on other tweeters’ profiles, and see what you find inviting or off-putting. If you intend to tweet in a professional capacity, then avoid too much about your hobbies or quirky, cryptic statements about yourself. It tells potential contacts nothing about why they might want to follow you and what kinds of information you are likely to be passing on to them, and therefore why they would want to network with you professionally. Some people like to add that they are “tweeting in a personal capacity” or that the “views are my own” to clarify that their tweets do not reflect the views of their employer, although you may feel that this is clear enough anyway. Check any social media policy that your institution has developed.
  6. You can connect your Twitter account to post automatically to your Facebook  account too, if you have one. Think carefully about the two audiences for Facebook and Twitter- is this something you want to do? Or would you rather keep them separate?

People will often view your profile page when deciding whether to follow you, and you might give out the URL to your profile page e.g. on your email signature or business card if you want to ask someone to follow you, so it is worth making it informative and distinctive. It will also be an important part of your publicity if you’re tweeting in a group capacity for your service. Today. we’re mostly looking at the information in the tab at the top labelled ‘Me’, which is where people will find your profile:

twitter tabs

Explore customising your Twitter profile page in the Settings.

Click on the cog icon at the top, and select Settings. In the Settings, you can:

  • Change your Header image – the one that sits behind your avatar. Go to Profile to upload an image.
  • Change the Background of the whole page, using one of the premade themes or design and upload your own

twitter profile settings

You can create more Twitter accounts, associated with different email accounts, if you wish. These might be for other facets of your online life, such as personal contacts, or to represent your learning development service rather than you as an individual. It’s best not to mix audiences too much – for example, if you use Twitter for a hobby, then a separate account for professional purposes means that you aren’t filling people’s Twitter feeds with things that don’t interest them or confuse them. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!

Now, to let us know how you’re getting on, why not leave a comment on this blogpost with your twitter handle and a link to the URL of your profile? Or if you have any other comments or questions, let us know by leaving a comment!

S0 – you have an account on Twitter now, with an engaging profile which invites others to follow your tweets. That’s enough for day one!


Head of Writing Development Service and Learning Developer at Newcastle University.

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Posted in Ten Days of Twitter
27 comments on “Day 1 of #LD10DoT: Setting up your account
  1. Any questions about setting up your account and profile? Ask them here in the comments today! Tomorrow, when we start tweeting, we can crowdsource any questions you might have on Twitter itself and start to see how useful a network it is!

    Those of you who are already on Twitter, any advice or tips on setting up an effective profile? My tip – if you can, use your real name and a photo of your face – no one ever recognises me at conferences as @scholastic_rat! Apparently the whiskers and tail aren’t enough of a give-away…

  2. hello
    I am @debbieholley1 – I started using twitter a couple of years ago when i moved to Anglia Ruskin University – I moved from a business school to an education department and wanted to find out more about school education. So i started following schools educators and gradually became much more familiar with my new community. A lovely thing we do is @ukedchat a twitter discussion at 8pm Thursday evenings – contribute at #ukedchat. My twitter is always professional use only – although i do DM (direct message) my firends

  3. Julia Braham says:

    Next month I’m starting a secondment at the Business School and I really want to use twitter more effectively in this job. I’ll be developing a new twitter persona to reflect this post, conversing with a different audiences as tutor to our direct entrant international students (2+2) and also running a module to prepare students for work experience. So, my question is, should I create a new second profile, or should I just take my existing profile and re-focus it (I never really used it much anyway) and assume that anyone who was following my old self will just stop following me when they dont want to know about things like work experience opportunities?

    • @Julia Have you had any further thoughts a few days in to #LD10DoT? You said you hadn’t used your personal Twitter account much, but do you think you might in future? Is there anyone else with a similar / parallel role to your new post with whom you might share a professional Twitter account just for the purposes you describe?

      I’ve stuck with one account, which was originally personal and is now much more for professional / research.

  4. Brian Pope says:

    hi I’m Brian @lincscbt developing online therapy courses and looking to integrate twitter

  5. Hi, set up a twitter account a couple of months ago, felt I couldn’t bury my head in the sand any longer, now don’t know what to do with it and feeling too scared to try!

    • Hello! We’ll talk you through it over the next few days – especially what you might use it for, and why others might find it really useful to hear from you too! I’m keen to make sure that we’re not just looking at what Twitter can do, but what a learning developer might use it for in the context of their work, so I’ll try and make sure there are plenty of examples!

  6. Alistair Morey says:

    Hi, I’m Alistair in Surrey @AWDMorey. I’ve spent the last hour with an identity crisis having set up an account a while back (but not used it much) and then having to disentangle my work and non-work lives. Thought it might be a bit of a faff to switch between accounts but at least when using a phone it seems easy enough:

  7. Sandra says:

    I use my Twitter account to follow e-learning people and other academics in whom I’m interested. I am a complete convert and enjoy dipping into my page to get a snapshot of interesting research, conference posts and great websites. I’m posting about #LD10DoT in my student-facing FB account – which also publishes into our @CELTStudy Twitter account. I’m using the hashtags to connect up with #studychat – posts to students and #loveld – posts to Learning Developers. This is an exciting project and I’m pleased to be following it!

    • I’m @paulineridley. I’ve had an account for a while – very rarely tweet but follow mainly educational and learning tech related people whose tweets nudge me towards interesting blogs and websites (and occasionally browse hash tags like #bbcqt to see if other people are as enraged as me by stupid politicians). Haven’t yet figured out how to tweet regularly without boring other people. Use FB just for family and friends.

  8. ozbecky says:

    Greeting! I’ve had an account for awhile. Looking forward to learning how to use it!

  9. martinmcmorrow says:

    Thanks for kicking up this blog. At the moment, I feel more like a twit than a twitterer. Hoping to earn the suffixes by the end of the week. BTW, if I appear to be contributing only in the dead of night, fear not. I am actually writing this in the fullness of a winter’s afternoon, here in Aotearoa / NZ, where I work as a learning advisor at Massey University. Oh, and here’s the link to my twitter thingy: … catch up with you all soon!

  10. Ess Garland says:

    Thanks for Day one. Today I tweaked my profile and learnt what RT MT meant. I joined Twitter for a Mooc and have found it an invaluable resource for keeping in touch with conversations around learning and education but also about business and other interests I have. I have never learnt Twitter Etiquette so hoping I pick it up here.. thanks Ess @essigna

  11. jimpettiward says:

    Hi everyone.. I’ve been on Twitter for a few years but not sure that I’ve really completely understood it or engaged with it fully – I think Helen’s right about the complexity of #, RT, @ etc so I think this experience will be a great way to fill in the gaps and refresh my memory. Looking forward to it! 🙂

  12. Julia Braham says:

    lost already. what does RT MT mean Ess?

    • Sandra says:

      I *know* that we are going to get there Julia – but RT = a re-tweet. This is where you like another tweet so much that you click the re-tweet button that appears when your cursor hovers over the bottom of the tweet itself.

      • Yes, don’t worry! We’re covering that in a couple of days! We will go slow and explain the terms as we encounter them, but do ask if there is any we forget to clarify!

    • Essgarland says:

      Hi Julie I may have jumped the gun. MT is modify Tweet. I must have picked these up from the slides Helen posted on #LD10DoT Twitter .. It sounds like RT and MT will be explained later 🙂

  13. Helen Bowstead says:

    Second try – wanted my profile picture to be ‘curious cow in the dark’ but couldn’t get it off my phone. So, just a curious cow for now….@HelenBowstead1

  14. Brian Pope says:

    Hi everyone I’ve set up a new twitter account @lincstherapy. I’m a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist developing a new range of blended learning course for therapists in the UK and i’d like to use this course to explore I could use twitter as part of this approach

  15. charlieshitz says:

    I’m just thinking about setting up separate personal and work accounts. Your comments have convinced me that it’s time to get on with it.

  16. Vicky Brown says:

    I am a day late but have officially gone from lurker to full profile on Twitter! I’m @torieab

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Ten Days of Twitter for Learning Developers by Helen Webster is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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