Getting Started on Twitter: How to Set Up And Organize Your Account


You’ve stood outside for long enough. You can hear the party raging on inside, but you couldn’t quite decide if you should go in or not. Now your mind is made up—you’re ready to cross the threshold and join everyone else. Yep, you’ve decided it’s time to start a Twitter account.

It’s true that social media can be a little scary at first, but for university recruiters, it really can be the key to building your brand and reaching your audience. Social media also allows you to find college students and recent grad job-seekers and engage in authentic interactions with them where they’re already spending their time. (If you want a little more info on how social media is being used for recruiting these days, check out this post for some facts and figures.)

Last week we talked about how you can use Twitter simply to listen, and we showed you all the things you can do on Twitter without actually opening an account.

Obviously that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so now we’re going to look at actually getting started on Twitter and exploring some of the super cool things you can do on this platform once you have an account.

Create your account

Start by going to the Twitter website.

Twitter will walk you through each step like choosing a super cool handle (like @AfterCollege, for example, but sorry—that one’s already taken!), linking it to your email address, and filling out all the different parts of your profile. If you get stuck or need any extra information about this part of the process, this post on Sprout Social is pretty helpful.

Twitter will tell you how many characters you can use in your handle. If you already have a company account, you can differentiate your university recruiting dedicated account by using a word like “Jobs” or “Careers” in your title.

Follow others on Twitter

Now how good of a student are you? If you read last week’s post, you may recall that we assigned you the homework of finding a list of 15–20 university recruiters or other thought leaders whose tweets you like. If your dog ate your homework, don’t worry. We have some suggestions about our favorite university recruiting accounts on Twitter right here in this post.

Now let’s take a look at how you can actually follow these people or accounts.

Once you’re signed in on Twitter, you can start searching for people by entering their name, company name, or handle into the search box in the top right of the page.

Let’s say that you’re interested in following @TLNT_com. You would type their handle (or their name if you’re not sure about the exact handle) into the search bar and click on their name when it shows up in the results below.

search twitter
This will take you to @TLNT_com’s Twitter page. Then all you have to do is click on the “Follow” button on the top right corner of the page.

follow button

Simply click on this button and BOOM! You’re following this account.

You can go through this process with all the people on your list (or our list if you didn’t do your homework, you little slacker). As you look at their Twitter feeds, you may find other people you want to follow as well. That’s great—you’ll probably find that the more people you follow, the more followers you get for your own account.

Following others is also an easy way to learn more about what’s going on in the Twittersphere and in the world in general. Twitter is so fast-paced that it may become your source of breaking news, memes, and pop culture trends as well as industry insight and connections.

But this can all get a bit crazy—remember that party I alluded to at the beginning of this post? It’s definitely not a quiet gathering of intellectuals around a fireplace. Nope, it’s much more like a college kegger that causes the neighbors to call the police to come shut it down. We’ll show you how to deal with this insanity in the next section.

Organize your Twitter newsfeed into lists

Is your Twitter newsfeed starting to stress you out? You can barely scroll through one screen and dozens (if not hundreds) of new tweets pop up instantly. It’s madness!

Creating lists helps you to organize the people you follow into smaller groups. You can divide them into categories like “Other university recruiters,” “Industry thought leaders,” “News,” “Fellow Friends fanatics,” or anything else that makes sense to you.

Here’s how to do it. To add someone to a list, go to their Twitter page and click on the little “settings” icon (the one that looks like a wheel).

add someone to list twitter

Once you click on that button, you’ll get a drop-down menu where one of the options is “Add or remove from lists.” Select that option.

A little window will come up that shows your existing lists and gives you the option of creating a new one.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 8.27.05 AM

The view you’re seeing now is AfterCollege’s lists, so you can see we’ve created categories like “Employer related,” “AC blog related,” and “recruitment gurus.”

Click on the “Create a list” button and a new window will pop up. It should look like this.

create a new list twitter

Choose the name you want for the list and the privacy setting. If you choose “Public,” everyone can see your list and know who you have on it. If you choose “Private,” you are the only one who can view the list.

You can add, remove, or edit lists whenever you want. Just click on your Twitter handle (usually on the top left side of the page).

getting to your list on Twitter

Once you click on your handle, you’ll get to your dashboard, where “lists” should appear in the top middle part of the page.

Click on “Lists” to bring up yours.

finding your list 2 twitter

Click on any of your lists to view all the tweets in it or to make any changes to its members or name.

Some basic Twitter conventions

Now you’re all set up and you’re following people on Twitter—woohoo!

Here are a few things that will help you understand what other people are doing on Twitter and feel confident when you start to send out your own tweets.

  • Hashtags

Hashtags are a way for people to label their tweets, and it makes it easy to search for tweets on topics that you’re interested in. For example, a quick scroll through our list of university recruiting related Twitter accounts reveals hashtags like #jobinterviews, #careers, #jobsearch, and #millennials.

You can use hashtags that you see other people are using or create your own. You can also use the search function on Twitter to see who else is using a specific hashtag and how they’re using it.

Once you start typing something into the search box, Twitter will also give you suggestions.

hashtag search

If you’re wondering about how many hashtags you should use, how long they should be, etc. be sure to check out Buffer’s über-useful guide to hashtags.

  • Mentions

Including someone else’s Twitter handle in your tweet is called a “mention,” and it’s good to get in the habit of mentioning others. You can mention someone if you’re linking to some of their content, responding to something they tweeted, or if you want to start a conversation with them.

One important point about mentions—if you’re going to start the tweet with someone’s handle, you need to use some other character first. If you just start the tweet with their handle, only people who follow both of your accounts will be able to see the tweet. If you add some other symbol or text—even something as simple as a period—you’ll ensure that everyone can see the tweet. Here’s an example from @UndercoverRec, who is mentioning @Workopolis:

undercoverrec mention

By adding “Thanks” before the @Workopolis handle, @UndercoverRec is making the tweet visible to everyone on Twitter—whether someone is following both of their accounts or not.

  • Favoriting

“Favoriting” a tweet is basically a way for you to give it a small nod of approval—similar to how you might like a post or an image on Facebook. You can simply click on the star that appears underneath a tweet to favorite it.

  • Retweets

When you come across a tweet that you really like, you can “retweet it,” which will send it out to all of the people who follow you. In order to do this, you can click on the retweet button on a tweet. This is what it looks like:

retweet button

Clicking on this button will copy the exact text and include the letters RT (for “retweet”) and the handle of the person who wrote the original tweet. Here’s an example of a RT. In this case, @WLSTraining Co is retweeting a tweet from @Elance:

RT example

Or, if you’d like to make some changes to the tweet (for example you might want to cut down on the characters or reword it so that it makes sense in a new context), you can copy the text, paste it into a new “compose tweet” box, and start the tweet with the letters MT that stand for “modified tweet.”

Here’s an MT sent out by @careersherpa:

MT example

And here’s the original tweet sent out by @Social_Hire:

original tweet example

You can see that @careersherpa made some changes to the text in the original tweet to shorten it so that everything would fit in.

Now you’re all set—you’re following others, you’ve organized them into lists, and you’ve begun to retweet and engage in conversations. You’re well on your way to becoming a Twitter pro.

The next step: Continue to experiment on Twitter. Look for other people to follow, Twitter chats to participate in, and ways to involve students and recent grads with your tweets. Encourage students to follow you and offer incentives for them, like swag giveaways at your on-campus events. Get creative!

Have any other questions or comments for us? Let us know in the comments—or tweet at us!


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