Gillian Shaw pointed out a “Twitter squatter” to me last night — Mel Lehan, the NDP candidate in our riding, who’d nabbed his name on Twitter but not actually posted anything. It’s smarter than not squatting — the last thing you’d want as a candidate is to see someone else posting in your name! — but there is a better way.

If you need to stake a claim to your Twitter identity, but you don’t know what to tweet about, here’s an easy way to get your Tweeting underway. You don’t need to look like the world’s most longstanding Twitterer (after all, Oprah just started tweeting last week!), but an empty Twitter feed is just, well, a little forlorn.

So I’ve taken the liberty of writing your first 21 tweets for you. That’s enough for you to post something once a day for the next three weeks…by which time you should have the hang of Twitter and know what kinds of things you want to say. If not, at least you’ll look like you gave it a decent try.

You can log into Twitter once a day for the next three weeks, or you can use HootSuite to queue up all your tweets so that they go out once a day, automatically. Just set up a HootSuite account (it’s very quick) and give it your Twitter username and password; then post each of these 21 tweets, but select “send later” (and try to vary the times you’re telling HootSuite to post, so you don’t end up posting every 24 hours on the nose).

If you use HootSuite and the tweets below, you can have a perfectly respectable Twitter feed up and running in 15 minutes. If you want to keep it alive, you’ll need to read part 2 of this quickstart guide.

  1. Just joined Twitter. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it works for me/connecting with my friends/finding out more about X.
  2. Check this out — it made me laugh. (Link to a cartoon or funny story you’ve already bookmarked.)
  3. One of you people MUST have my keys. I know I left them right here.
  4. Just got off a great call. We are going to do amazing work for these people.
  5. “Everbody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein
  6. Suggestions on best Twitter client? Can’t decide.
  7. I am so not going to be one of those people who twitter their breakfast choices. Use your imagination, people.
  8. Just tried Seesmic. It’s cool, but I’m not sure if I’ll use it.
  9. “Real freedom lies in wilderness, not civilization.” — Charles Lindbergh
  10. Still not sure how to balance Twitter with Facebook. Same thing? Annoyingly different?
  11. OMG that was the craziest season finale — no spoilers though I promise!
  12. Drowning in e-mail. OK, blitz time!
  13. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun
  14. Grooving on my new Firefox add-ons. Worried that the performance is a bit slower, though.
  15. Must-read story on the front page today: [insert link to news story of your choice]
  16. Ugh. Too much cheese.
  17. “Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  18. Booked fantastic new gig. Details soon I promise.
  19. I wish my sweetie were here right now.
  20. Having one of those brutal, “I can’t believe I just said that” moments. Ah, this too shall pass.
  21. Three feeds you must follow: @awsamuel @robcottingham @socialsignal

Hey, we wrote your first three weeks’ worth of tweets — don’t we deserve a little gratitude?

Add a tweet, win a Twittercation

Suggest a tweet to add to the list above by:

We’ll retweet our favourites, and the author of the best tweet will win a Twittercation: turn off your computer, and the staff of Social Signal will twitter for you for three weeks! Build followers and amaze your friends with your sense of humour, erudition and extensive inside references to Social Signal blog posts.