Note: This is the second post in a four-part tech chat series about Twitter for evaluators. The first post explained the components and language of Twitter. This second post will walk you through how to create your profile. The third post will review more advanced tips and tricks for engaging others and managing your content. The fourth post will share networking strategies on Twitter.
Now that you have a better understanding of the main components of Twitter, you are ready to start using the social media platform. Below are the steps for creating an account.
Create a Twitter account
The first step to having a Twitter account is to actually make one. Start by visiting the Twitter website. The trickiest part of this step is to figure out what your Twitter handle (your account name) is going to be. Mine is @ecgrim. I went with a simple and short combination of my name. Choose a Twitter handle that is consistent with your professional identity or branding. Sometimes your first choice is already taken by someone else so have a backup ready just in case!
Add a profile picture
Upload a professional photo of yourself. Typically, this is a close up of your face so that people can recognize you both online and in real life. It seems that most people have an overwhelming desire to post a photo that is super flattering since it’s going to be uploaded to the internet for the world to see. I get that. But sometimes these photos are really outdated, which makes it challenging to find and connect with you in the sea of people at a conference. So if you want to be recognizable in the real world, choose something that looks awesome and has also been taken recently.
Now I’m not suggesting that your photo has to be a boring headshot with you in a formal suit. If this is your personality, that’s great and it will be the perfect photo for your profile. But if it’s not, choose something that brings out your personality and style. Your professional identity is all about what makes you unique. Embrace this!
Include a bio
Now that you have chosen a fabulous Twitter handle and photo for your account, it’s time to really help others get to know you. You do this by writing a brief bio. UGH I know – bios can be the worst! Personally, I like to include a combination of what I do professionally as well as some of my personal interests to help people get a better feel for who I am. I’ll admit, I overanalyzed this step way too much. Eventually, I came up with the bio in this photo.
Is it perfect? No. Has it had multiple iterations? Yes. Will I continue to edit and update it? Probably. Don’t stress – just choose something to start with and revise it over time.
Upload a cover photo
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can include a cover photo. This is the image that appears on the top banner of your Twitter page. There is a lot of variability about what to include here and many people choose to just keep it as a color with no image or text, which is totally fine. Other examples include company logos, photos of your work, and a key quote or statistic. Be creative – this is an opportunity to have your profile stand out from others.
Choose your privacy settings
Twitter allows you to choose whether to make your profile private or public. Private profiles and the associated tweets are only visible to people who you have approved to follow you. Public profiles are available to everyone. The internet can be a scary and creepy place so you might be inclined to make your Twitter profile private. Although this adds more security and limits the amount of spam you will get, the downside is that you will not be able to engage in broader conversations on Twitter. You can change this setting at any time, so try it out both ways and see what works for you.
Start following others
Now the fun begins – start following people and organizations! A great place to start is to look up colleagues and partner organizations with whom you are already engaged. Think about the e-newsletters you receive and follow those organizations too! Here are a few accounts in the evaluation field to get you started:
- American Evaluation Association: @aeaweb
- Better Evaluation: @BetterEval
- Eastern Evaluation Research Society: @EasternEval
- Eval Cafe: @EvalCafe
- Eval Central: @EvalCentral
- Eval Youth: @Eval_Youth
- The NY Consortium of Evaluators: @nycevaluators
- UN Evaluation Group: @UN_Evaluation
- Washington Evaluators: @WashEval
Stay tuned because in the next post I will share additional tips and tricks for optimizing your use of Twitter as well as other accounts some of your fellow evaluators recommend.