Day 1 of #CU10DoT: Creating and personalising your Twitter account

Welcome to Twitter, and to #CU10DoT!

We’re going to go over a whole host of things throughout this short course, stating with the basics. Take a look at the schedule to see what will be covered. 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 e.g. @HJSears
  • 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, jump to Personalising your profile and  More than one Twitter account? use today to refine your profile and think about  whether you could make good use of more than one Twitter account.

Create your Twitter account

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit to set up an account.

  1. You’ll firstly need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up.
  2. On the next page, you can select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) which will be your @name.

Tips for picking a username:  Your username is the name your followers use when sending @replies, mentions, and direct messages. It might be a 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. It will also form the URL of your Twitter profile page. Twitter will provide a few available suggestions when you sign up, but feel free to choose your own. Usernames must be fewer than 15 characters in length and cannot contain “admin” or “Twitter”, in order to avoid brand confusion. Avoid using numbers, hyphens and underscores as this will make it harder for people to be able to find you online. Please note: You can change your username in your account settings at any time, as long as the new username is not already in use.

3. On the ‘What are you interested in?’ page Twitter will suggest accounts for you to follow based on your interests. We are going to be covering following people on day 3, so you can opt to ‘skip this step’ for now if you wish. Twitter will suggest up to 40 accounts for you to follow based on your interests, if you decide to proceed.

4. The next stage is to ‘Customise your Profile’. Upload a profile picture  (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels). 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.

Tip! Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer!

5. The next step ‘Find the people you already know’ gives you the opportunity to connect with Twitter users who you already know. We recommend you ‘skip this step’ for now as we will be looking at following users in more detail on day 3.

6. Your account should now be set up. Twitter will send a confirmation email to the address you entered on sign up, make sure you click the link in that email to confirm your email address and account. Important information about your email address: An email address can only be associated with one Twitter account at a time. The email address you use on your Twitter account is not publicly visible to others on Twitter.

Personalising your profile

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. To do this click on your profile picture, this will take you to your profile page. On the profile page you should be able to see an ‘Edit Profile’ button. Click it to update your profile.

  • Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use an abstract pseudonym and picture your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add a header photo. This will appear at the top of your profile page and acts as cover photo for you Twitter account. The recommended dimensions for Twitter header picture are 1500×1500 pixels. Make the job of sizing and/or designing your header using an on-line service. Last week I was sent a graphic by marketing – I used Canva to resize and add a background to create a new header for @HJSears.

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.

More than one Twitter account?

You can create more Twitter accounts each linked to a different email address – you are not limited to single real life identities like Facebook or LinkedIn. These might be for other facets of your online life, such as personal contacts, for public engagement rather than networking with other researchers, or for representing a research group or event such as a conference. It’s best not to mix audiences too much – 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. For example, I’m @HJSears for professional conversations and @Aornis for personal contacts. 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! If you’re really keen, you might follow me @HJSears 

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! Tomorrow we’ll be looking at ‘what to tweet’… Heather

2 thoughts on “Day 1 of #CU10DoT: Creating and personalising your Twitter account”

  1. Thanks for the idea of linking my uni web page to my twitter account to give more details of what I do – I hadn’t thought to do that before. Only problem is the research centre needs updating but at least the information about me is correct.
    I’m at @edukatemaths

    1. I’m far more likely to follow a new follower back if I know where they’re from (and I’ll always follow someone if I know they’re a researcher from CU).

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