Setting up your Twitter account

Follow the steps below to get your Twitter account up and running. I have included screenshots with boxes, arrows, and additional text to help highlight the areas of action detailed in each step.

Set up your account:

  1. Go to Twitter. Open your web browser and type into the address bar (or click the Twitter link in this sentence); this will open the landing page.
  2. Sign up. Once at the Twitter website, click the Sign up button located near the top of the screen.
    Twitter landing page

    Twitter landing page at

    3. Enter basic information. Fill in the form boxes with your name, email address, and a password (choose one at least 6 characters long that you can easily remember). Click the Sign up button.


    Account setup screen.

    4. Pick a username. Type your username into the box. The name has to be under 15 characters in length. Try to pick something catchy and easy to remember, if possible. Twitter will alert you if username is already in use, and as you type alternative suggestions will appear below the box. When finished, click Next.


    Username selection screen.

    5. Congratulations, your account is set up. Click Let’s go! to start tailoring your preferences and profile.


    6. Select interests (optional). The next few screens will help to tailor your Twitter account to your interests. Click on a few of the suggested categories and/or use the box to start typing in your own. One you have selected a few, click Continue.

    Twitter will always try to suggest users, news stories, and tweets that it thinks align with your interests. This is information it uses to get started with this process. Select as many or as few as you like (I prefer fewer so I can select and curate for myself later on).


    7. Follow people in your email contact list (optional). If you use selected email services such as Gmail or Outlook you have the option to search contacts to see if anyone you know is on Twitter. If you want to let Twitter do a search, check the box under your email provider and then click Import contacts.

    If you prefer not to search your email contacts, simply skip this entire step by clicking No thanks.

    If you allow the import, Twitter will not automatically follow anyone in your contacts list who has a Twitter account, but it will suggest them as users to follow.


    8. Make the timeline yours. On this screen you will see a list of people and organizations that Twitter thinks might be of interest based on your contacts and/or the interests you selected earlier. Check Select all to follow everyone, or scroll down the list and uncheck the boxes next to any (or all) that you would prefer not to follow. Then, click the Follow button near the top of the screen.


    9. Your new profile is ready! Now you are ready to spruce it up with an (optional) picture and information. You can fill in as much or little as you like, which we will go through in step 11.


    10. Take a minute to exit Twitter and check your email. Twitter will have sent you an email welcoming you to the service and asking you to click a link to confirm your account. Click that link from within your email and it will open your Twitter profile and confirm the account in one step. (You can also save this step for later, if you wish).

    11. Go back to Twitter. If you have left Twitter to check your email, go back to Twitter. Sign in to your account if prompted using your username and password.

    12. Take a look at your profile. Your new profile page will look fairly blank. You will notice your username appears on the side of your screen in small letters below your name and a box with a camera icon.

    The middle portion of the screen will display some sample tweets to help you get started—these are just samples, but you can tweet one (optional) by clicking Tweet next to the desired wording.

    The side of the screen will display suggestions on more user to follow, and below that some trending hashtags that many people are using right now. The empty egg next to the suggested tweets is how your picture will currently appear to other Twitter users.


    13. Add a profile picture. This is optional, but many users will assume the account is a fake (automated bot or troll account) if it has no picture or information. You want to impact people—especially your congressional representatives—so it’s worth taking the time to add a personal element. You can go back any time and change photos and information on your profile.

    Click the camera icon on the side of the screen and select Upload photo from the dropdown menu.

    A dialog box will open so that you can find and select an image to place. (It’s easiest to put an image that you want to use someplace easy to locate on your computer, such as on the desktop or in your computer documents folder.) Find your image from your computer in the dialog box and click on it to highlight.

    Note: Your image has to be a jpeg file, so look for images that say .jpg after the name. You can see in my screenshot below that the image I picked is called “mesmall.jpg.”

    highlighted an image, press Open at the bottom of the dialog box. Your image will now appear on your profile.



    Detail view. After you select your photo you will be able to zoom and crop to make it fit the frame better. This allows you to focus closer on your face, if desired.

    14. Edit the rest of your profile. Now that you have a profile picture, click the Edit profile button on the side of the screen.


    15. The editable view will appear. Use the same procedure as outlined above to add a header image, if desired. Type a bio (optional) into the field at the side of the screen. This can be fun or informational—just keep it short because Twitter limits you to 160 characters in this section. Add your location, a personal website, and your birthday, if desired. Change the color of your header bar using the Theme color selector (optional).

    Once you are done making updates, click Save changes.



    Detail view. Once you select a header image you can use the slider bar to zoom and drag your image around the frame, if desired.

    Start Tweeting:

    Now that you have everything set up, send a few tweets out into the world.

    1. Write your first tweet. If you have not composed any tweets yet your profile page will display a message that reads “Send your first Tweet.” Click in the white box under “Or write your own” and begin to type your message.

    You can use up to 140 characters, including all punctuation and spaces. A red number below the box is a remaining character count. Every time you type a tweet Twitter will display this number to help you keep track (and display a – number to let you know how far past your limit you have gone).

    Once you are finished, click Tweet.


    Your tweet is now public! All of your tweets will appear in the center of your profile page. They will also show up in news feeds of anyone who follows you, as well as in the lists of any hashtags you have used in the tweet.

    If you have tweeted at a particular user by typing the @ followed by their username (ex. @RepJohnKatko or @IndivisibleOsw) they will get a notification that someone has mentioned them in a tweet.


    2. Your profile page will begin to look more like this as it fills up with content you are sharing. To send out additional tweets, look at the top of your screen and locate the Tweet button. Clicking this from any page within Twitter will open a box to compose a new tweet.


    Now that you are up and running with Twitter, use the following links to check out my other posts on how to make the most of your account:

    Basic tour:
    A tour of basic Twitter features and advice on navigating, searching, and interacting.

    Users and hashtags to follow for political discourse:
    This list is a small selection of users and topics related to current political issues. It includes policymakers, activist groups, and topical hashtags related to the environment and science, healthcare, and so forth.

    Engaging and amplifying your message:
    Post about how and why to leverage Twitter to amplify grassroots messages.


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