Twitter for

In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know to become a social media influencer on Twitter.

twitter izea logo influencer

Aside from other Internet titans, such as Facebook and YouTube, few online services have affected society as much as the networking service Twitter.

What makes Twitter unique? It requires users to be concise. A strict character limit per post leads to sharp, snappy messages that work well in the fast-paced online world.

This practice of “microblogging” has become incredibly popular. According to a 2019 letter to shareholders, Twitter reported having a base of 126 million daily users. And Pew Research Center estimates that 22 percent of American adults are on Twitter. Although this number is less than the number of daily Snapchat and Facebook users, it’s clear that Twitter has plenty of influence in today’s tech-driven society.

Industry experts, politicians and brand influencers are aware of the power of this platform. Everyone from biologist Richard Dawkins to popstar Katy Perry has a presence on Twitter. Even people you wouldn’t expect, such as Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama, participate in the microblogging.

So how can you, an up-and-coming influencer, carve out a space for yourself in the massive Twitterverse? In this guide, we’ll cover the basic steps of opening an account and even the more advanced strategies of building a following.

Aside from other Internet titans, such as Facebook and YouTube, few online services have affected society as much as the networking service Twitter.

What makes Twitter unique? It requires users to be concise. A strict character limit per post leads to sharp, snappy messages that work well in the fast-paced online world.

This practice of “microblogging” has become incredibly popular. According to a 2019 letter to shareholders, Twitter reported having a base of 126 million daily users. And Pew Research Center estimates that 22 percent of American adults are on Twitter. Although this number is less than the number of daily Snapchat and Facebook users, it’s clear that Twitter has plenty of influence in today’s tech-driven society.

Industry experts, politicians and brand influencers are aware of the power of this platform. Everyone from biologist Richard Dawkins to popstar Katy Perry has a presence on Twitter. Even people you wouldn’t expect, such as Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama, participate in the microblogging.

So how can you, an up-and-coming influencer, carve out a space for yourself in the massive Twitterverse? In this guide, we’ll cover the basic steps of opening an account and even the more advanced strategies of building a following.

twitter izea logo influencer

How to Set Up Twitter

Setting up a Twitter account is easy. Simply go to Twitter’s main site page at and click the ‘Sign Up’ box. You can also go directly to to start the Twitter sign-up experience. Enter your personal information like your name and email address to create a Twitter account.

If you choose to enter your email address, log in to your email to verify your address and continue the sign-up process. Note that only one Twitter account can be associated with your email address at any given time. Other Twitter users will not be able to publicly view your email address via your Twitter page.

You can also sign up for Twitter with a phone number. This will also require a form of verification. Twitter will send you a code via SMS text message or automated phone call. Enter the verification code into the prompt box to officially verify your new Twitter account.

After verification of your personal information is complete, you’ll need to choose a username for your account. A username uniquely identifies you from other Twitter users. Make your username unique by choosing a variation of numbers and symbols that are fewer than 15 characters in length. Twitter usernames also may not contain the words “admin” or “Twitter” in them.

Other users can search for you by username, tag you in mentions and replies and send you a Direct Message. Your Twitter profile URL also contains your username. Usernames are not permanent and can be changed any time in account settings.

After creating an account, be sure to follow other accounts to customize your Twitter timeline. Your timeline is a stream of information and updates made by the accounts you follow. News sources, friends and celebrities will appear on your timeline once you follow. Simply unfollow an account at any time to stop seeing a person’s tweets.

You can also sign into your account on a mobile device. But keep in mind the mobile app’s user-interface might have a different arrangement than the actual website.

twitter homepage

What to Include in Your Profile

andy serkis twitter profile

One of the very first steps to becoming a successful Twitter influencer is updating your profile. Your profile is a first impression for anyone who visits your Twitter page. Keep your profile updated to reflect your desired image and showcase the best content to new followers.

Most Twitter spam accounts don’t take time to update their profile picture or profile. Replace the generic new account photo with a recent photo of yourself or your logo to avoid looking like a bot.

Next, engage audiences through your bio. Include a brief sentence about who you are and what you do. Keep it short and sweet with a few words like “Writer” or “Professional Traveler.” Try writing a few different bios so you have several in rotation. Find out which one is most effective by monitoring how many followers you gain with a different bio in place.

You may have already created a Twitter handle, but consider changing it to fit your brand or area of expertise. Avoid using a series of numbers after your full name if it isn’t available. Instead, consider something unique that will stand out like a spin-off of your business name.

Twitter suggests thinking of your header as a billboard. Consider using event photos, your brand logo or graphic or a featured product. Highlight the work you do with your team or in your community. Promote new events or product news periodically to switch things up.

After updating the visual elements of your page, introduce yourself with your first tweet. Pin your first tweet, or other important tweets later, to the top of your page. Simply click on “more” at the top corner of your tweet and select “pin to profile page.” This tweet will stay at the top of your profile page until you choose to unpin it or pin another tweet there. Only one tweet can be pinned at a time. This ensures profile visitors are aware of your latest news.

Following and Unfollowing

Like on any other social media network, you can follow other users and they can follow you. This allows for you to keep up with their newest content, and vice versa.

There are several ways to follow a user on Twitter. Follow these simple instructions:

  • Use the search bar to find an account you’d like to follow
  • Click on the user’s profile picture to go to their profile
  • Click ‘Follow’ at the top of their profile page


  • Find a tweet from the user you’d like to follow
  • Hover your mouse over the user’s profile picture
  • Click “Follow”


  • Find a tweet from the user account you’d like to follow
  • Locate the icon at the top of the tweet
  • Click on the icon and tap ‘Follow’ from the menu

Follow these instructions to unfollow a Twitter user:

  • Go to the desired user’s profile via the search bar or one of their tweets
  • Click ‘Unfollow’
  • You may also choose to block this user via the ‘Block’ button. This user will not be able to see your tweets or interact with your profile until you unblock them

Become a Twitter creator

Once your profile is all set up, you’re ready to announce yourself to the Twitterverse. Here are the basic elements of a tweet.

twitter what's happening tweet


Think of text as the basic building block of most of your tweets. Words are useful, but, as you’ll see, you have plenty of other tools at your disposal as well.

Remember, what makes Twitter stand out from other social media channels is its 280 character limit. Knowing some common acronyms will help you get your point across in a concise message:

  • DM – Direct Message
  • RT – Retweet
  • ICYMI – In Case You Missed It
  • IMO – In My Opinion
  • NSFW – Not Safe for Work
  • TFW – That Feel When
  • TBT – Throwback Thursday
  • SMH – Shaking My Head
  • IDK – I Don’t Know
  • IRL – In Real Life
  • NBD – No Big Deal

QOTD – Quote of the Day

  • OOTD – Outfit of the Day
  • BTW – By the Way
  • LOL – Laugh Out Loud
  • TY – Thank You
  • YW – You’re Welcome

This list is in no way exhaustive. You’ll learn lots of other acronyms and social media lingo as you interact with other Twitter users.


You can add a photo or gif to any tweet. A gif is a type of animated computer image often used to express emotions or reactions to a situation. To add a photo to a tweet, click on the “What’s Happening” box at the top of your timeline. You can also click the ‘Create Tweet’ icon, a small circle with a quill inside, located in the corner of your timeline.

To upload a photo or gif from your documents, click on ‘Gallery.’ You can also search for a specific gif from Twitter’s gif library by clicking on the gif icon. Choose up to four photos to include in any tweet. Only one animated gif can be selected at any time and cannot be included with other pictures.

Every photo or gif image will attach as a full-size image to your tweet and does not count toward the character limit. Click on the Tweet button to post your photo or gif. You can send photos or gifs as Direct Messages, as well.


twitter hashtags

Hashtags are a great resource on Twitter. They help categorize tweets by keyword, making it easier to find popular and relevant hashtags in searches. Use the hashtag symbol (#) to create a hashtag of your own. You can use these hashtags anywhere within your tweet to show up in searches. Find trending hashtags in Twitter’s ‘Trends for You.’

Use these popular hashtags to make your tweets stand out in searches with other influencers:

Events (#WorldCup, #WomensMarch)

  • Daily (#ThursdayThoughts, #FollowFriday)
  • Places (#LA, #NYC)
  • Industry Terms (#influencers, #socialmedia)


A good way to increase engagement is to create a poll for followers to vote on. You can pose a serious question or something a little more trivial, depending on how you want to interact with followers.

Open the compose tweet box by clicking at the top of your timeline or the icon to the left of your navigation bar. Inside the compose tweet box, you’ll notice an option to add a poll. Click on the ‘Add Poll’ icon and type a question in the main compose box.

A poll can include the same amount of characters as a regular tweet, and it must include some form of text before posting. Use up to 25 characters for each poll box. Create poll options in the Choice 1 and 2 boxes. Add more up to four poll options by clicking ‘+’ and ‘Add’ and entering polling information.

Although normal polling duration defaults to 24 hours, you can lengthen polling time by adjusting the time. Create a short poll with the minimum amount of five minutes or a long poll with the maximum duration of seven days. When you’re finished organizing your poll, click Tweet to post.


You can create a link to pretty much anything, including your own YouTube videos or Instagram account. In fact, linking to these accounts can help you build a following on multiple channels, not just Twitter. For example, if you’re already a fairly established Instagram influencer, why not invite your followers to keep up with you on Twitter as well?

Any URL pasted into the tweet box is automatically shortened to 23 characters. This is to ensure maximum character capacity for a tweet.

Simply type the URL into the tweet box or Copy+Paste the URL to add it to a tweet.

Add more characters or post tweets with the 23-character URL only. Click ‘Tweet’ to post link.


Sharing videos on Twitter is another great way to gain followers and earn recognition, especially if you already have a steady YouTube following. Share special video content with Twitter followers to boost views and impressions. There are multiple ways to share a video to Twitter.

  • Record videos straight from the Twitter app. Go to the ‘Compose Tweet’ box, click on the camera icon and switch to video mode. Edit the video once you’re finished recording and share immediately.
  • Import videos from device storage. Use your iPhone or iPad to import videos from the device. Edit videos in the app if needed and post them to your profile.
  • Upload videos online. Upload videos onto from device storage, Google Docs, Dropbox or another online storage space.
  • Create a Live Video. Access the compose tweet box or swipe left from your home timeline to access the live video mode. You can create videos with sound only by tapping on the microphone icon at the top right of the screen when in live video mode. You can also fill in a brief description of the video and your location information before going live. Press ‘Go Live’ to start live video mode. Press the stop button at any time to stop the video. Live videos will show up as a regular tweet would, appearing in your followers’ timelines and on your profile page.

Establishing Your Influencer Brand on Twitter

Start your influencer brand off successfully with regular tweeting. The only way to build your follower account is to tweet multiple times throughout the day, every day. Focus on influential tweets relating to your brand. Your follower count will increase over time with an active profile.

What to Post

The goal is to create content that people will like and retweet. This, in turn, gets more people interested in your content and results in more followers. But how do you create an influential tweet that interests followers? Follow these simple rules to creating an influential tweet.

  • Get to the point. You may only have 280 characters to express yourself, but composing a compelling tweet in fewer words creates an easy-to-read notification that people are more likely to read. The longer it takes users to read a tweet, the less likely they are to stop and share it.

Use an image. Any type of visual content is more likely to grab a user’s attention, according to Twitter’s internal poll.

  • Limit hashtag use. Hashtags are a great resource, but using them for every other word breaks up the visual flow of your tweet. This makes it more difficult for other users to read your tweet, as well. Use hashtags more as a reference or guide for searches rather than for attention.
  • Include a link. Informative tweets are shared more often. Be sure to include a useful reference to any opinion piece, especially those related to politics, social issues or industry-related ideas.

Composing tweets is only the first step in establishing yourself as a Twitter influencer. You must also actively engage with your followers and other people on Twitter. Spend time every day retweeting content that inspires you, too. Respond, mention, like or retweet with comment to engage with other users.

Don’t be afraid to join in on the conversation. Your expertise is valid, especially on industry-specific content. Further your reach by starting conversations with other industry-professionals. Take time to share your experience, answer questions and engage in topics of conversation that interest you.

Avoid over-following. Some people may choose to follow back, but this is more likely to foster inconsistent follower growth. Focus your attention instead on trustworthy,

long-term followers. Following others with this same goal in mind encourages mutual connections later on, developing an equal follower-to-following percentage.

Promoting your Twitter profile on your other sites helps build a trust-worthy following quickly. Be sure to add a link to your profile on your other social media sites like

YouTube and Facebook. Your current followers from these sites are more likely to add you on Twitter and provide meaningful interactions.

When to Post

Posting content at peak Twitter activity hours ensures your tweets are seen by followers. Proper engagement on posts is essential to boosting other activity like retweets and likes. The Twitter timeline algorithm lists tweets in chronological order, so it’s important to post at the right time to get the most engagement.

Your tweets are among the 500 million that are posted daily. Stand out among the plethora of social opinions, conversations and industry-news with these quick tips on when to post on Twitter.

  • Weekday mornings are the best time to post, according to Sprout Social’s data. Engage with followers as they are starting their day. Post interesting updates, news or announcements around 9 AM on Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Connect with followers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Twitter engagement analytics show that mid-week is the most active time for followers.

Mid-day engagement picks up again around the lunch hours. Be sure to post interesting content that will catch your follower’s attention.

  • Morning check-in still happens on the weekends, but is less frequent. Avoid posting important updates on Saturdays and Sundays. Instead, focus your attention on weekdays between 8 AM to 4 PM.
  • Social interaction drops off in the late evening hours between 10 PM to 4 AM. Avoid posting around this time.

Popular Influencers on Facebook

Let’s take a look at some Facebook influencers who are doing it right. We’ve gathered a few examples of influencers across a variety of industries. You’ll notice all of these influencers use additional social media platforms along with Facebook. This leads to much more exposure for you or your brand since some of your audience may prefer Facebook while others love Instagram, for example. You can use Facebook as your main platform or as an additional platform. Either way, taking advantage of Facebook’s huge usership makes good marketing sense for influencers.

jonathan van ness twitter avatar

Jonathan Van Ness - Beauty Influencer

Beauty isn’t just about the face. Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) is a colorful hairstylist who has an audience of over 785,000 Twitter followers. Perhaps best known for his role on “Queer Eye,” he also has a podcast called “Getting Curious” and a book titled “Over the Top.”

jonathan van ness twitter influencer
tavi gevinson twitter avatar

Tavi Gevinson - Fashion Influencer

Despite being in her 20s, Tavi Gevinson (@tavitulle) sometimes likes to show off an intriguingly vintage sense of style. She has over 371,000 Twitter followers and 514,000 followers on Instagram.

tavi gevison twitter influencer
tiffany bendayan twitter avatar

Tiffany Bendayan - Food Influencer

Tiffany Bendayan (@LivingSMoments) is a busy mom who still makes time to blog, take snaps of plates and share recipes online. She has 85,000 followers, and they’re all treated to an ongoing stream of recipe suggestions. Even more recipes appear on her personal blog, Living Sweet Moments.

tiffany bendayan twitter influencer
cory lee twitter avatar

Cory Lee - Travel Influencer

Cory Lee (@coryleetweets) is a Webby Award winner and New Mobility Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2018. He’s also received the Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Blog and boasts an impressive 26,000 followers on his twitter page, Curb Free with Cory Lee. He’s travelled to 33 countries and six continents in his wheelchair and has been featured on The Travel Channel, CBS News and National Geographic. From Iceland to Bali to exploring the Rainforest, Cory shows that a wheelchair user can successfully travel the world.

cory lee twitter influencer
andrew ng twitter avatar

Andrew Ng - Tech Influencer

Andrew Ng (@AndrewYNg), co-founder of Coursera, an online education service, sends out tweets to his over 435,000 followers. If you have an interest in artificial intelligence and other futuristic tech trends, you’ll want to follow his account. He’s been on Twitter since November 2010.

andrew ng twitter influencer
hideo kojima twitter avatar

Hideo Kojima - Video Game Influencer

Fans of the Metal Gear Solid series will recognize the name Hideo Kojima (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN). He’s very active on Twitter, frequently posting about upcoming projects and whatever entertainment news catches his eye. He has a loyal audience of over 2.8 million followers.

hideo kojima twitter influencer
charlamagne tha god twitter avatar

Charlamagne Tha God - Music Influencer

Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) is an extremely popular entertainment specialist with over 2 million followers on Twitter. Although controversial, he is a recognizable name in the hip-hop genre, focusing on interviews with guests on “The Breakfast Club.” Charlamagne’s abrasive personality gets him in trouble, but fans enjoy the drama.

charlamagne tha god twitter influencer

Measuring Your Success on Twitter

How can you tell if all of your dazzling, well-timed tweets are actually having an effect on your popularity? You’ll need an entirely different class of tools to help you analyze results and help you determine if you’re moving in the right direction. Here are a few analytic tools to consider:

twitter analytics

Tools to Make Great Content on Twitter

Building an influencer presence on Twitter requires time and patience. The task is much easier if you have the right social media tools on hand.

Scheduling Tools

With the ideal posting times still fresh in your head, the first kind of tool you should consider using is a scheduling tool.

A scheduling tool is a software application that allows you to schedule Twitter posts out until a specific date or time. Instead of posting right away, your tweets are published later, often at a time that has a higher engagement rate. This allows you more time to do other things during your day, instead of stopping multiple times to tweet. Scheduling tools provide a safety net for gaps in regular content, targets audiences in different time zones and makes it easier to curate content on your profile.

Save time and energy with a scheduling tool for your tweets. Spend one hour instead of many creating tweets for your timeline that post throughout the day or week. Schedule multiple posts while you’re in a creative mindset, browse hashtags and images all at once and effectively create engaging posts with this crafty software application.

Find out which Twitter scheduling tool is right for your brand.


This free, integrated browser created by Twitter includes all the tools you could need all on one page. See your home feed and profile, access messages and notifications and browse trending tweets through this scheduling software. You can even access your account settings and other linked accounts. Create and schedule tweets with no limits and delete scheduled posts at any time. You can also manage scheduled tweets for multiple Twitter accounts.


There are several plans offered by Twittimer with varying benefits. Schedule social media posts, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, with the free plan. You can also add up to one RSS feed. Twittimer also offers two paid plans with additional benefits. Add up to 30 social media accounts through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn with an additional 30 RSS feeds that display up to 10 of your latest posts. Although you can only view 10 recent posts, scheduling timetables and posting amounts are unlimited.


Hootsuite is a wonderful resource for Twitter management and metrics reporting. Use the free plan for less than five social media profiles or purchase a premium plan for more management options.

Hootsuite is a web-based dashboard that links social media profiles to better execute collaborative campaigns. Social media teams often use this site to effectively manage multiple social media platforms.

For analytics of Twitter posts, create custom reports that track hashtags and mentions. Review overall engagement and follower data with custom analytic tools. Identify audience demographics to grow followers and increase audience engagement. Export specific reports to keep track of how you’re doing.

Performance tracking is not the only benefit of Hootsuite. You can also launch

marketing campaigns straight from the dashboard. Use it as an online scheduling tool, with plenty of posting options to choose from, as well.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter itself has its own analytics tool built into the site for any user to explore. Use this simple tool as a first step to understanding how your tweets perform.

Browse metrics in a 28-day summary that includes tweet data like impressions and mentions. You can also view how many people have viewed your page, when you gained followers and when you lost them. View a month-to-month summary to gauge how well your content performs over time.

Use other sections and tabs for an in-depth look at other tweet analytics. View your most popular tweets, metrics on videos you’ve posted and follower information. Set a specific date range and export your data to keep track of analytic statistics.

Compare audience engagement to pre-built audiences through Twitter Analytics. View audience demographics, lifestyle information and consumer behavior to better curate future tweets for your specific audience. Compare this information to other audience examples similar to yours like brand-related businesses or generation information.


Twitonomy offers several methods to analyze your Twitter account and tweets. Compare yourself against competitors or others in your niche with this thorough tool.

Sign in with your Twitter account to view competitor’s statistics alongside your own. Simply enter your information along with other Twitter handles to view engagement details.

View Twitter lists, popular tweets and other analytics provided by Twitonomy. Easily track hashtags, conversations and keywords that you’re both apart of. Graphs and statistics easily break down into understandable numbers.

Twitonomy also helps you to see where your tweets are most popular in the world, showing you a literal map of information. Knowing where your social content is most popular also helps you to post at the best time of day for your followers.


You must have a Bitly account in order to link Bitly with Twitter. However, there are free scheduling plans available with post limits. Link Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and schedule up to 10 posts a month with the free plan. Paid plans offer 500 or 1,000 posting limits for all social media accounts linked.

How to Make Money on Twitter

IZEA is a popular example of an influencer marketplace. As a content creator, you can sign up and make a profile that shows off your work. Then, you can browse available opportunities in your niche and bid on ones that interest you. Advertisers who think you’re a good match for their brand can reach out to you via the platform.

As you might imagine, this platform is extremely useful to brands and agencies as well. The system allows them to target suitable influencers, track results and issue payments.

IZEAx: Influencer Marketing Platform

IZEA streamlines the process of your influencer marketing efforts with its platform and software tools. It offers an efficient and effective way to connect you with brands for sponsored content on Twitter. And it gives you the tools you need to grow your influence. When you create a profile with IZEA as an influencer, you’re given the opportunity to work with leading brands, publishers and advertisers in your industry. Monetize your content and extend your influence on Twitter, as well as all of the major social media platforms.

Where can I sign up?!

If you have not already signed up, you can sign up as a Creator by following the instructions below:

  1. Head over to the IZEA Creator App
  2. Sign up by filling out the name, password, and the tell us more about you fields.
  3. Click Create Account.
  4. Once completed, you’ll need to verify your account so check your email!

Partner with industry-leading food, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands.

More Tips on How to Make Money

Popular influencers have many ways to monetize their Twitter success. One of the most effective ways to bring in income is to form a partnership with a brand. Why would a brand be willing to pay an influencer?

It’s not always easy for brands to establish trust with an online audience. Consumers are often skeptical of grandiose marketing claims from businesses. They’d much rather hear recommendations from trusted individuals, including industry experts.

Brands hire influencers to spread the good word and bridge that gap between the business and the audience. In some ways, this strategy is similar to old-fashioned celebrity endorsements. But you don’t have to be a Hollywood superstar to endorse a product or service nowadays. You simply have to have the trust of your followers.

Here are a few more reasons why influencers are valuable to brands:

They help brands make sales.

Whether an influencer is doing a full product review or just casually name-dropping a brand, they direct consumers toward those products and services. Depending on how popular the influencer is, their recommendations can have a sizable effect on a brand’s revenue.

Just imagine how your online visibility would skyrocket if Beyoncé or Billy Ray Cyrus happened to mention you by name. That said, even micro-influencers (influencers with smaller followings) can help brands make more sales.

They generate content.

Influencers tend to excel at content creation. For example, a product review might come in the form of a YouTube video or a blog post. The brand can then share that content on Twitter or through another social media channel. If the content happens to go viral, this is great news for both the brand as well as the influencer.

They can inspire user-generated content.

Influencers can encourage their audience to join in on the content creation process as well. They might ask followers to take pictures of themselves using a brand’s products or services. Viral campaigns that involve user-generated content can provide a boost to brand awareness and increase sales.

They’re creative forces.

The longer an influencer works with a brand, the more likely a brand is to give that content creator more room to experiment. Influencers can test out new marketing messages and campaign strategies before the brand fully commits to a new direction. And, because influencers are so in touch with their own followers, an influencer might come up with a clever new way to boost engagement.

Establishing a Partnership

A mutually beneficial relationship between a brand and an influencer sounds great but getting started requires some work. The Internet is a big place, and you’ll need to make yourself visible to the right brands. The best way to do this is through an influencer marketplace. These types of platforms streamline the search process, making it easier for content creators and brands to connect.

Pay Rates and Negotiations

Not all brand and influencer relationships start in a marketplace. But they all generally involve a negotiation process.

How much a brand pays you to work as an influencer depends on a variety of factors. Before a brand makes you an offer, it will likely look at:

  • Audience size
  • Engagement rate
  • How you respond to followers
  • How often you post
  • Quality of work (such as spelling and graphic design skills)
  • The types of content you share (such as video or infographics)
  • Whether you use platforms aside from Twitter (such as a blog or Instagram)

A brand might offer to pay you hourly or per post, depending on their needs. You don’t have to accept the first offer that comes your way though. If you feel comfortable negotiating terms, you might be able to make more than the initial offer. When negotiating, remember to highlight the value of your content. If you have a small following but excel at audience engagement, emphasize your strength and how it can improve business results.

Although you might be willing to make small changes for the sake of a contract, avoid clients who ask you to completely overhaul your social media image. Your followers will likely notice drastic changes in your style and tone, and you might lose their trust in the process. It’s best to work with brands that have a mission and set of values that already match your own.

Before you can master the channel, it helps to understand its origins. The story takes us all the way back to the mid-2000s.

jack first tweet twitter

Origins of Twitter

In 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey had the idea to create a SMS-based platform that allowed people to communicate with each other via status updates. Dorsey shared his idea with Evan Williams, Noah Glass and Biz Stone, all of whom were working at a podcasting company known as Odeo. Apple iTunes had blocked the road to Odeo’s success, and the group was actively looking for a path forward. Impressed by Dorsey’s suggestion, they gave him the go-ahead to develop the new project.

With Odeo’s resources at his disposal, Dorsey got to work. By March 2006, he had created an early version of Twitter, called twttr. The service name drew inspiration from the sound that birds make when communicating. It also followed the popular trend of dropping vowels to create a new brand name (think Flickr). Dorsey posted the first-ever tweet on March 21. It simply read, “just setting up my twttr.”

With a working product now in their hands, the next several months brought major changes for the team. Williams fired Noah Glass in July, the team bought the rights to Odeo from investors in the fall and the company name was changed to Obvious Corporation. The name of the service itself was changed to Twitter, and early users were limited to posting messages of 140 characters. The character limit was originally due to Twitter’s SMS roots, but it later simply became a matter of branding.

The next year brought a fast rise to success for the microblogging service. In March 2007, Twitter won recognition as “best startup” at the South by Southwest convention in Austin. During the convention, over 60,000 tweets were sent each day, and this was further proof the team was in possession of a winning idea.

The following month, Twitter became its own company, with Dorsey serving as CEO.

An Evolving Platform

User innovation led to many of the functionality changes that followed. For example, the practice of retweeting emerged when users started to include “RT” at the beginning of tweets to indicate they were borrowing information from another user. The service didn’t officially allow for retweeting until late 2010. Other user innovations included the use of hashtags to categorize messages and the use of “@” to get the attention of another user.

Thanks to events such as a Twitter town hall with President Obama in 2011, Twitter quickly became a household name. By September of 2011, the service had 100 million users. Its next major milestone would come in 2012. After acquiring Vine in October of that year, the service reached 200 million active users in December.

Since its launch, Twitter has undergone all sorts of changes and added a variety of features. The following list highlights a few of the more notable changes:

  • In April 2010, Twitter introduced promoted tweets, an important advertising tool
    for marketers.
  • “While You Were Away,” a feature that helps user catch up on past events, debuted in January 2015.
  • In a major moment of recognition, Google began including tweets in its search results in May 2015.
  • Twitter Moments, curated stories from around the globe, debuted in October 2015.
  • In November 2018, Twitter dropped its well-known 140 character limit and replaced it with a 280-word limit.

Shakeups and Setbacks

Twitter’s history hasn’t only been sunshine and progress. Although they originally started as close friends, founders Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey have had their share of conflicts. In 2008, Williams convinced shareholders to force Dorsey out of the CEO position, and then Williams himself took the spot. Dorsey spent the following years sharing his side of the story.

By October of 2010, Twitter’s board had decided to replace Williams with the then-chief operating officer Dick Costolo. Williams was relocated to a ceremonial position as director of product before leaving the company in 2011.

Dorsey would eventually return to his CEO position at Twitter in 2015, and Williams would go on to found the popular publishing platform Medium.

Dorsey and Williams weren’t the only two members of original Twitter crew who seemed to clash. Noah Glass’ strained relationship with Williams eventually led to Glass’ dismissal in the early days of the company. Even so, Glass often receives credit for coming up with the name “Twitter.”

Disinformation Campaigns

Aside from internal conflicts, Twitter also faced plenty of external problems. For example, in 2019, Twitter revealed that a foreign government had used the platform to launch a disinformation campaign during the U.S. election. The campaign involved thousands of automated accounts that tweeted out false information about candidates and attempted to deepen existing divisions among Americans.

On September 5, 2018, Jack Dorsey, alongside Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s Larry Page, testified before the Senate intelligence committee about their findings. At that point in time, Dorsey’s team had worked to remove over 3,000 automated accounts linked to a foreign agency.

This wasn’t the first time Twitter found itself in the political spotlight. Questions about potential moderation biases and its anti-harassment policies have often led to criticisms from the public as well as governments around the world. Despite all of the negative attention, Twitter has continued to serve as a popular platform in many countries.

What’s next for Twitter? The world of social media moves fast, so it’s hard to tell. What’s clear is there’s still time for new influencers like yourself to benefit from the channel’s many features and functions.