Twitter – not just for teenagers

A Twitter account is easy to set up and a valuable marketing tool, says Greg Miles.

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During a brainstorming session for a podcasting company called Odeo, a young man called Jack Dorsey decided to revolutionise the SMS (short message system) and enable a user to communicate with a small group of people. It was decided to limit the characters to 140 to allow space for the username to be included in the message. These messages were called ‘tweets’ and on 21 March 2006, Dorsey (@Jack) sent the first tweet: “just setting up my twttr.” Three months later, Twitter was launched.

Now people from all over the world are saying it all in 140 characters or fewer. According to, by January this year, Twitter had 645 750 000 registered users, with 135 000 new users signing up daily.
In the process, Twitter continues to earn billions in advertising revenue.

Setting up an account
To set up a twitter account and start tweeting, go to and click the sign-up button. Here, you’ll be asked for your name and email and will have to create a password for your new Twitter account. You’ll also need to decide on a ‘username’. Twitter will immediately tell you if the name you have chosen is available or has been taken by another user.

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The username (or ‘Twitter handle) for Farmer’s Weekly is @FarmersWeeklySA. All Twitter usernames have the ‘@’ sign before the name. But while signing up you need not enter the ‘@’ sign. Simply choose a desired name; Twitter will automatically add the ‘@’.

The only characters you can use are upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and the underscore (_). If you’re deciding on a Twitter name for a business, consider using a keyword related to the business. This will influence your ranking on search engines. This will directly affect your business online, helping to push you as close to the top as possible.

Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll receive an email from Twitter. Your account will activate when you click on the verification link in the email. This is a standard precaution, or Internet protocol, to prevent people opening illegal accounts on another person’s email address.