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Getting Started with Twitter: Choosing a Name

5 minute read

twitter-bird-white-on-blueMy Uncle, a pastor, poet and author, recently joined Twitter. He asked me for a crash course in tweeting. Instead of providing advice to him alone, I thought others might also benefit from the few things I’ve learned since joining Twitter in April 2007. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I do run three separate Twitter accounts, the best of which (in terms of followers, quality of content, and consistency) is my work Twitter acount, @FVmomentum.

This is the first in a series of ten posts regarding the ten things I wish I would have known when I first started using Twitter as @batwood.

What name should I choose for Twitter?

Like many superheroes, Twitter’s greatest power is also its greatest weakness, i.e. the 140-character limitation. You want to choose a name as short as possible so that you leave ample room for your tweets and links, but you still want to ensure that your Twitter handle reflects who you are (or who you’re trying to be) online.

For me, ages ago, I chose to use my first initial and last name. This is not original or creative, but how was I supposed to know that Twitter would become Twitter? Now that I’ve had that particular handle for so long, I doubt I’ll change it. People online know me by this Twitter alias. Additionally, since it’s a personal account, the need to change it to anything else at this particular time is moot.

On the other hand, if you’re setting up a Twitter account for a business, organization, or ministry, you’ll want to choose a name that’s either identical to or very similar to the names you use elsewhere online. Brand consistency, especially when Google searches result in so much visibility online, is imperative.

Unfortunately, choosing the right Twitter name can be just as difficult as choosing the right URL. Twitter purportedly has more than half a billion users worldwide (of which 141.8 million and counting live in the United States). Be diligent in your quest to find the perfect name.

While you can’t use symbols or spaces in the name, you can use the underscore, i.e. @This_Could_Be_A_Twitter_Account_Name_But_I_Wouldnt_Recommend_It (especially since Twitter usernames can only be 15 characters long in the first place). Also know that you can change your Twitter name at any time and you won’t lose followers or messages (unless your followers just really don’t like your new Twitter username).

Use every ounce of your profile bio. If you have other Twitter accounts you want people to know about, use them in your bio (“I work @Lego_Group”) and Twitter will automatically hyperlink them to that Twitter page. Use bit.ly to shorten links so you can place relevant links in your bio as well.

Lastly, whatever Twitter name you choose, put it on every piece of communication you send out. Broadcast it to the world in your email signature, business card, brochures, website, Facebook page, books, when you comment on someone’s blog, etc. Consider it your digital calling card.

If you’re on Twitter and we aren’t already connected, leave your Twitter handle in the comments. Additionally, share how you came up with your Twitter alias.

If you’re not on Twitter, consider signing up today. The best way to learn is to simply jump into the fray, especially now that you have a few tips on picking the right Twitter name. Additionally, you’ll become a Twitter semi-pro in no time if you hang around and read the rest of the posts in this series.

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Here are links to every post in the Getting Started with Twitter: 10 Steps to Twitter Competence series. 

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9 Replies

  1. Thanks for the great tips! Twitter can be a very confusing place for new users.

    We came up with our Twitter handle @brandbucket, because it is the same name as our business. Unfortunately, this is not always the easiest thing to do.

    As you stated, there are half a billion users (and loads of idle accounts). Due to its massive user base, finding a suitable Twitter name has become a very important consideration for new businesses. Fortunately, Twitter is willing to help trademark owners acquire their matching handles.

  2. Thanks for reading Khalan. Since I haven’t had to deal with it, I wasn’t aware that Twitter provided that kind of assistance. Hopefully they treat smaller companies the same as the larger ones in getting their trademarked names as their Twitter handles.

  3. Twitter treats small companies just the same as large corporations regarding trademarking issues. From my research, it appears that Twitter will assist a business (of any size) in acquiring a trademarked handle if the business can provide trademark documentation AND one of the following applies.

    1. The account has been dormant for several months
    2. The account is impersonating the business – “Pretending to be another person or business as entertainment or in order to deceive.”
    3. The account infringes on the business’ trademark – “Using a company or business name, logo, or other trademark-protected materials in a manner that may mislead or confuse others or be used for financial gain”

    Hope this helps!

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