I've been seeing more twitter handles flash across the TV screen lately - The Voice AU, Masterchef, even the morning weather presenter. I like seeing that trend as it points to the new fabric of social networks, although I'm surprised how many are so poorly chosen. So coming down from the lofty heights of global business transformation via the social enterprise I thought I'd talk about choosing a twitter name the "common sense" way.
Twitter limits your twitter handle to just 15 characters. Choose them wisely, and simply, as I'll explain.
Firstly, why the title of this post? Isn't there a difference between an accountant and a rockstar when it comes to choosing a twitter name or any other name for your social networks?
I say no. That's the point of this post. The reason is that both rockstars and accountants are people, and both are social, and while both have business ambitions those ambitions will change over time and should not dictate a twitter name at any one point in that journey through social media. Now one difference is that a rock star might have a name like Lady Gaga or Seal - and they'll be those for their Twitter lifetime. But if you're not a rock star then be yourself and use your real name or as close as you can get. Like your email address your Twitter handle is part of your "brand" (see the Nick Symmonds example below).
What's the downside of getting your wrong? Firstly you won't get the most value of what you are doing today on twitter and other social networks, and secondly you'll make it even more difficult to get value in the future. Why not go easy on yourself, conserve your energy, and get it right first time?
Whether you're tweeting as @jamesatTaxFirm or Viktoria Bolonina @viktoriaRUS "singer/song writer/performer/digital artist" those twitter handles are poorly chosen.
- Faustina Agolley @Faustinathefuzz
- jimmy cupples @littlejimmy
- Glenn Cunningham @Its_just_G
- the young Ben Bennett @BenBennettAU
- Laura Bunting @LauraBuntingOz and
- a whole bunch with underscores including @Delta_Goodrem.
Underscores! I lived through underscores in our emails addresses in the 1980s and 1990s. How old is the "digital" person advising these people, I don't even know where to find underscore on iPhone keyboard - and I don't want to know, it's a horrible vestige of the past and just doesn't jell with social networks and the iPhone!
Leading underscores! I mean just take a look at that list above and you can see, when they are extracted on to black and white, how silly and damaging they are - they detract from the objective of being on Twitter and other social media, are not easy to find or guess, nor easy to enter and use, nor easy to remember. I hope that stands out when you see them all lined up like that.
Changing channels, if we check Channel 10s' Breakfast Show we see that twitter handles for their crew have also started flashing across the screen recently. One that caught my attention is weather presenter Magdalena Roze as she's chosen @Magdalena_Roze - which just makes me shudder every time I see it because I can't spell and I hate underscores in social media handles.
Here are a few more examples of poor Twitter handles, and the point of listing these is that you will get the message that none of these make any reasonable sense when we abstract them and look at them in the cold light of day. Perhaps it was the rush from joining Twitter which caused some of these aberrations?
- Sam Stein @samsteinHP
- Roger Ebert @ebertCHICAGO
- Chris Denhart @ChrizDDv3
- Laura Johnson @LauraJ4159
- Graham Creed @WeathermanABC
Why aren't they sensible?
- You no longer work at the ABC or Tax Firm or Huffington Post but you're still a weatherman, accountant or journalist.
- You no longer live in AU or AUS or RUS and you are still a "singer/song writer/performer/digital artist".
- Nobody can spell your name or names, without a Google search.
- Wow I have to explain so many times that my name includes a underscore - a what?
- WOW I have to explain so many times that my name STARTS with a underscore.
- WOW I have to explain So MANY times what times what my ridiculous twitter name is because no-one can remember.
- WOW I had to explain to my MOTHER my offensive twitter name, I felt so stupid.
- You have chosen to be on Twitter, to be out there in social media, so make it easy for people to find you - otherwise why bother?
- You're a person so use your personal name in whateven sensible combination is available.
- Pick up the idea, which is the oppposite of where many are today but which is soming - that your posts, comments and expressions in the social media are always considered your personal opinion and not a company statement. People want to deal with people.
- Building on from point #3, if you are responsible for your own career and career path don't tie yourself to a current employer or interest or geography through your twitter handle.
- Don't include anything that would limit the use of your Twitter handle in the next 50 years, or forever.
- Make it easy for people to guess your handle in the social networks - in my case they are going to search for walteradamson wadamson and adamson and I always choose the latter first because it's shorter.
- Remember the shorter the better, all other things above considered, as you are eating in to the 140 characters when people ReTweet and refer to your name. Be generous, respect your "retweeters", and leave them as many characters as possible for their own message.
Would you be seen dead wearing your Twitter handle?
Olympic runner Nick Symmonds has not only smashed that question but he has done it twice. Firstly his own Twitter handle is just plain sensible @nicksymmonds. And he's obviously got a brain for branding and marketing - choosing that Twitter name was the first sign and the second was that he auctioned a place on his arm to wear a sponsored Twitter handle at the Olympics (except where barred from doing so).
You can see that Symmonds went with the bid from @HansonDodge. Given that Nick appears to have a smart marketing head on his strong shoulders then it's unlikely that he was going to pick a sponsor like @DRUNKHULK no matter how much money they offered.
He wouldn't want an ugly silly corny Twitter name on his arm, so please don't limit your future opportunities by not being sensible and simple about your choice of Twitter name, and your other social media handles.
Perhaps you need to get some serious advice about what Twitter is really about, and its business potential for you? Lady Gaga understands. Seal understands. Nick Symmonds understands. Just a thought.
So Viktoria, you've so many options just go change it to something simple, that people will easily guess. You do have a problem in that your combined name exceeds 15 characters, but just ask your most sensible friend what to choose and no underscores OK?
Now "the young Ben Bennett" you do have a more of a challenge since you have a zillion Ben Bennetts on Twitter. Choose something personal and see how it fits, your middle initial obviously, your full first name perhaps something that will last 20 years and relates to your identity and as close as possible to a real name. Not "the young" not "its" not "the real" not "cute" not "rockin" not "Mr" and ditch the "AU".
Faustina, having "thefuzz" in your name is like having a tattoo that is just going to look really ugly and stupid when you're 40, let alone older. It's easy to change and you have many nice choices of twitter handles from which to choose.
Make it easy for people to find you, to type your name on their iPhone, and to Retweet your name and repeat your Twitter name without frustration or embarrassment.
And being realistic, if your brand is Smuckers and you make Jam you probably can't do much about having @smuckers_jam!
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