How To Get Started On Twitter (Plus Insider Tips)

At the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center, we had an awesome lesson based conversation with Lena from Twitter about the basic and behind the scenes look at Twitter.

Lena From Twitter at the SFNTC

What are your recommendations for someone just starting out on Twitter?

“The Twitter adoption curve is very steep”
- Lena

1) Follow a few people. If your time line is empty, you have no reason to stay on Twitter. (What is a Time Line?)

2) Participate in Conversations. Retweet. Reply. Don’t be shy. Use a hashtag. Get visibility. Create meaningful relationships with people. As long as you are not spamming people, it will be okay.

3) Listen. You don’t need to tweet. A lot of people use Twitter just to listen to things that they care about.“Twitter is like a news digest all day that is curated for you, by you.” - Lena

Go to Twitter Support to learn all the basics or ask any questions directly to the Twitter team.

Below are a few of the notes we captured from the Twitter conversations.

Insider Tips Directly From Twitter:

  • Your Twitter Bio is very important for search. Include more nouns and descriptive words that describe what you do. “Twitter user search surfaces results with preference to those users who have a complete name, username, and bio on their profile.” - Twitter Support
  • Username is 15 characters max. You can change your username at anytime, without having to create a new account or contact Twitter. How to Change Your Username
  • Up to 140 people is the recommended maximum amount of people you should follow if you plan to engage and read your timeline.
  • It is important to put your phone number into your Twitter profile info because if you lose your email account or password, you can get the login information over the phone.
  • Advanced Search for Twitter has a cool “operators” button that allows you to search for particular things like positive attitude (searches for happy faces ;) in tweets). How to Use Advanced Twitter Search
  • Twitter trends – You can change locations for Twitter trends search to your country and it will give you specific data for the country. In the United States, you can go even deeper by cities to see what is trending in your city on Twitter. About Trending Topics
  • People like clever things that catch their eyes & allow them to interact. People like participating in conversations. Give them a key to interact. Fun hashtags can be used for this purpose, like #lessexcitingmovies and #neverinamillionyears. Sometimes nonprofits focus on very narrow or too serious stuff in their hash tags that don’t catch the attention of people.
  • is recommended for people with poor connecting areas or bad internet/phone connections.
  • The # of followers is not something to be obsessed with. Having a lot of followers is not necessarily good. “Better to have good followers than many followers” - Lena
  • Twitter has a “Community Translate Model.” There are over 200,000 people helping to translate Twitter. Check it out & start translating too!

Other resources:

What other Twitter suggestions or insider tips do you have for people just starting out on Twitter?

Have a question? Ask us on Twitter. Post the question with the hashtag #Answr in your tweet and we will respond!