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How to set up a Twitter account in five simple steps

In the first part of our social media how-to series, we demonstrated how easy it was to set up Facebook page for your non profit. Here, we’ll show you how to use Twitter to reach out to your customers and get your company’s name out there without having to spend big bucks on conventional advertising.

Step 1
image11First, you’ll need to setup a Twitter account. Go to www.twitter.com, and enter your full name, email address and the password you want to use for your account. Twitter will automatically suggest a username for you based on your first name and surname, but you should change this to the name of your non profit. If that name is taken already, try variations on it such as putting a “1” at the end of it. When you find a username that isn’t taken, click the ‘Create my account’ button.

Step 2
The next step is to find people to ‘follow’. The key here is building up a list of people whose posts you will find interesting. For a non profit Twitter account, a good place to start is people that are influential in your industry. Twitter will suggest some people for you to follow on the next screen, and you can get an idea of whether they’re relevant to your industry by the short biography listed underneath each Twitter handle. Don’t worry if you follow the wrong people – you can easily ‘unfollow’ them later.

Step 3
On the next screen, you’ll be able to find Twitter users by name or topic. From here, you can look up thought leaders and prominent executives in your field,and also
image12browse through categories to find people relevant to your industry. The final step in the setup process is searching through your existing contact databases to find friends and colleagues that use Twitter. You can look through your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and LinkedIn contacts.

Step 4
image13Now you can get to setting up your Twitter profile. From the main Twitter screen, you’ll see a ‘Set up your profile’ section on the right-hand panel.From here, you can upload a profile picture (typically your non profit logo) and write a short bio. The bio is important, as it’s what people will use to determine whether they should follow you. Something along the lines of “This is the official Twitter account of [non profit name]” should suffice.

Step 5
And now for the fun stuff – writing posts! Posts are limited to 140 characters, so you’ll need to be brief with your message. The aim isn’t to ‘spam’ your followers with information about your services, although this may be of interest depending on your particular industry. If your mission is to offer educational scholarships, for instance, posting to Twitter about any new scholarships available or deadlines would be appropriate. image14But you’ll also want to engage with people that mention your non profit name and post information related to your industry that your followers will find interesting. You can use free third party Twitter services like HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com) to get alerted whenever someone mentions your non profit name.

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