No matter who you are or what you have to say – celebrity, fictional character or the man on the street – Twitter is open to you. And if you run a business, there’s lots for you there too, if you know how to make the most of your brand online.
The social media site can be used as a free brand channel by companies big and small; you can grow a community of loyal, engaged customers who want to know what’s happening with you.
The platform allows you to ‘talk’ to your customers, directly, in real-time. If you are thinking about setting up a Twitter account for your business, it’s actually one of the more simple things to carry out. The few simple steps below will show you how to set up a Twitter profile for your business and start building an audience.
Step 1 – Get up and running
Type in your details in the form on the page:
- Your name (either your personal name or your business name)
- Your phone or email address
- Your chosen password
Then click ‘Sign up’
The next screen you see will ask you for your phone number (a mobile number is ideal) and while it’s not mandatory (click ‘skip’ if you don’t want to add a number), it is useful to have it on the account (you can always add/remove it later too).
It means you can get text alerts whenever someone sends your business a message on when you get messages on Twitter and it adds other extra functionality. If you do add one then it’ll send you a SMS with a verification code which you just enter into a box on the Twitter site when it prompts you. Your mobile will never be shown to other Twitter users, it’s just for internal use.
Next, you need to choose a username for your business. Twitter will give you some suggestions based on what you gave as your Name in the first field, but it’s best to use the name of your business, if it hasn’t already been taken. If it’s more than one word, remove the spaces so it forms a single word (e.g. ‘House of Fraser’ would become ‘HouseOfFraser’ with no spaces).
Some examples of Twitter names:
- John Lewis shops: @
- Yell: @YellBusiness
- HMV: @
When you enter your username in the form, Twitter will check it on-the-fly to make sure no one else is using it – in which case then, like John Lewis, you will need to think of a suitable variation. Then click ‘Next’.
Step 2 – Six-step setup
Next, you’ll be presented with a ‘wizard’ to help you get going – it’s 6 steps long.
Step 1 is easy, just read the text and click ‘Let’s Go’
Step 2 Here you need to tell Twitter what you’re interested in. You can select and expand the boxes of the content Twitter suggests or add your own (into the box that says ‘Search for something you like…’). So for example if I were an Accountant I might type the word ‘Accountancy’, or perhaps ‘Financial’ so that I could follow Twitter accounts who like similar things to me. Once you’ve chosen/created a few topics press ‘Continue’.
Step 3 This helps you follow people you know on Twitter. There are options to let Twitter access your Outlook or Gmail contacts list so it can find their profiles on Twitter. If you would like to do this then select the relevant option and click ‘Import Contacts’, then follow the instructions. If you’d prefer not to then, at the top right of the page, click ‘No thanks’.
Step 4 Here, Twitter will suggest accounts you can follow based on the interests you entered in Step 2, and based on your location. You can tick the boxes next to the accounts you want to follow – you can follow them all, just some, or none at all. Then press the ‘Continue’ button.
Step 5 It will ask you if you want to get Twitter notifications
Step 6 This is where you can start customising your business profile from the main Twitter home page view. You have two images on your Twitter account, a small square profile image, then a larger rectangular header banner.
As this is your business account it will depend on what type of business you have as to what sort of photo you upload. If you are a sole trader, you could either use a photo of yourself or your company logo (if you have one). If you are a company then you should probably use your logo. Be careful with your logo as many aren’t square so they might not fit well in the square profile image space – it may crop off the sides of your logo. Use an image editing program to add some space round your logo to make it squarer, or if you have a graphic/web design company that you use, then they can help you create the right size image – you might just have to go with a little bit of trial and error to get it right (you can always change it later). Once you’ve uploaded an image press ‘Continue’.
This Twitter home page view comprises:
- Your profile overview (top of left column)
- a list of tweets from people you are following (centre column)
- current Twitter trends (left hand column)
- suggestions of who to follow (right hand column)
- an area where you can write a Tweet – click inside the box where it says ‘What’s happening?’ to start writing your tweet (top of the centre column)
Step 3 – Dress up your profile
As it stands, your Twitter profile will be pretty plain-looking. To add some personality to it, you’ll want to add a profile picture (if you didn’t already in the six-step setup above), a header image, some text about you, contact details and a link to your website.
To do this, from the home page click on your profile overview (top of the left column). Your profile will look something like this (although less filled in!):
You’ll see the URL of your page will be something like: twitter.com/YOURUSERNAME – this is the Twitter address for your business. Some examples of this:
The first place you need to click to on the page is ‘Edit Profile’. This will allow you to edit your profile and header images, the description of what your business does and your company display name. You should add the website address for your business. You can even choose a ‘theme colour’ which will determine what colour links and backgrounds your page has (it’s best to choose one of your company colours so it blends in well with your logo). You’ll see from the image below that it gives you clear indications of where to add images and to fill in the profile text and add your website address.
The recommended sizes for the two images on your profile are:
- Header photo – recommended dimensions are 1500 x 500 pixels
- Profile photo – recommended dimensions are 400 x 400 pixels
Step 4 – More customisations
If you head to the account administration area at the top of the page (it’s in the very top bar, it is a small square version of your profile image) then click ‘Settings’ you can access more in-depth profile customisations.
In this area it is possible to:
- Change settings like your email address, time zone, language and mobile number
- You can change your @ username (maybe you have made a mistake or something better has popped into your head?) – be wary of changing the username of your account at a later stage once you have a lot of followers as people will get used to your profile name and might not recognise you if you change it. Plus your profile web address will change (e.g. twitter.com/OLDNAME to twitter.com/NEWNAME) and you’ll have to alter everything that has a link to it
- Change alerts and notifications
- De-activate/re-activate your account
Step 5 – Tell me if my ears should be burning!
When in the ‘Settings’ section, there are three options for notifications – Mobile, Email notifications & Web notifications. You can decide if you’d like to be notified each time someone mentions your Twitter username, if someone sends you a direct message (also known as a DM), if your tweet gets favourited, if you get a reply/retweet (RT), or if someone new has started following you – it’s a great way to monitor mentions of your business and your brand on Twitter.
And that’s how easy it is to set up a Twitter profile for your business. Now you’re ready to get tweeting!
Some top Twitter tips
Here are some useful Twitter posts to get you started:
- How to grow a targeted Twitter follower base for your business
- How to attract the right social media audience and increase followers
- Using hashtags to take part in Twitter networking hours
- 5 ways to manage your brand using social media
- Making the most of social media as a direct communications channel
This article was originally published on 15 May 2015, and updated on 07 June 2017.