In previous posts in this series, I shared ways Twitter can help you with professional development, networking and relationship building, and personal branding; gave step-by-step instructions on creating a Twitter account and profile; and explained how Twitter works. Now it’s time to review your Settings to understand the available functions and to have your Twitter account best optimized for your use. Start by selecting Settings at the top of the page and then click on Account.

<Twitter instructions, functions and features change frequently. These instructions may not match Twitter’s website today but you’ll get a good sense of how to edit your settings.>

Account

Email – Check ‘let others find me by email.’ Your email will not be displayed to anyone, however those who know your email address will be able to find you by using it to search for you.

Tweet location – ‘Add a location to your tweets’ – I don’t check this box. I don’t feel the need to share my location with the whole world. More and more people do share their location, particularly with the growing popularity of location-based services like Foursquare and now Facebook Places. Remember that Twitter is public, your tweets are viewable by anyone who goes to your profile page; keep that in mind when deciding whether to add a location to your tweets.

Tweet privacy – ‘Protect my tweets’ – I don’t protect my tweets so I don’t check this box. I usually don’t follow those who protect their tweets. How can I check them out if I can’t see what they tweet? You limit your opportunities for networking, relationships, branding and professional development if you protect your tweets.

While we’re discussing privacy, let’s talk about spam and phishing. Despite what many people think, spam and other tomfoolery is not causing problems for most people on Twitter, including me. Here are some ways we avoid spam and such:

  • Only follow those whose profiles you review. I don’t auto-follow – a method where you employ a third-party Twitter application to automatically follow back anyone who follows you. These auto-follow apps save time but in return you end up following hundreds of spam accounts. If you don’t follow a spammer, you won’t see their spam.
  • Don’t click on links in direct messages that seems out-of-character, suspicious, vague or make reference to a video or link that promises something, even if from a friend. If someone gets their account hacked, meaning someone has gained unauthorized access to their account by using software to figure out their password, it can result in the hacker sending direct messages with bad links to the victim’s followers.
  • Beware of phishing schemes where a user is tricked into disclosing their username and password. This can happen on a fake Twitter login page, a page promising to get you more followers or make you money, or via a DM or email. Authentic Twitter pages will always have http://twitter.com/ as the base domain, and will never have a word in between “twitter” and “.com.” Twitter will never send you a DM or email asking you for your password. They might send you an email recommending that you change your password if they discover, before you do, that your account has been hacked, but they will never ask you for your password.
  • Use strong passwords that are not found in dictionaries – combos of letters and numbers, foreign or made-up words.
  • You can block a user if they are overly spammy or vulgar (porn accounts). When you block someone, they cannot follow, mention you or add you to their lists. You can also report a user as spam. There are buttons/options to both block and report as spam on your Twitter homepage and in Twitter applications.

 

Notices

New follower emails – yes, notify me. Set up a folder and filter in your email client so that all Twitter emails go to that folder and don’t clutter up your inbox. Check this folder weekly, so you can check out profiles and make all your following decisions at one time.

Direct text email – yes, email me when I get a direct message. Even though I get direct message (DM) alerts on my phone, I also like to get an email in case I don’t see the alert or want to flag the message for later action.

Profile

See Part 2 for a thorough explanation of this section.

Design

Twitter has a default background, or you can choose one of their suggested options or upload your own image by selecting Change Background Image. There are also many companies who create customized Twitter backgrounds for you. If you are uploading an image for your background, make sure it is large enough or it will tile. Twitter limits the file size to 800k. The image must be in the PNG, GIF or JPG formats. Because monitor resolutions differ, it’s suggested that your image is around 1600×1200 in dimensions to scale properly on large monitors.

Connections

This is where you can see the applications that you have authorized to access your account. You can revoke access if you don’t recognize one of them or wish to get rid of one of them.

Next time, we’ll get to the most critical information of all — how to find good people to follow and how to really use Twitter — how to engage.

Twitter Basics series