Choosing an Effective Twitter Username

social media username

When choosing your Twitter username, the first thing you need to consider is whether you will be completely brand-centric, or tweeting as yourself. Note that Twitter limits you to a username of no more than 15 characters. Your username can be anything you like: it can be your full name, or a variation of your name (peterlawson, petelawson, PeterDaveLawson, pdlawson or plawson). If you have a small business, it can also be an abbreviation of your business name, your full business name or a short contextually relevant description of your product or service.

One thing to bear in mind is that once you have chosen a Twitter username and built a following, you should never change it. If you do, all of the links you’ve posted on other websites that said, “Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/username” will become broken links.

Use the following guidelines in choosing your Twitter username:

Your Full Name

If you are planning to build a personal brand, you’ll want to build your Twitter community around your real  name. In addition, making your handle as close to your name as possible will treat your name as a brand. Everytime you tweet, you promote brand awareness of your name. Note that Twitter automatically customizes your profile’s full URL (twitter.com/richardlawson). Search engines value a customized URL with your full name in sequence.

Your Business Name

If you are a small business, you’ll want your Twitter username to be the name of your business. This makes perfect sense, since you could have more than one person executing your tweeting strategy.

Note that Twitter limits you to a username of fewer than 15 characters. If you have a very long business name, you’ll have to get creative. For example, if your business name is Computers For Less, you could change it to something like Pootas4Less or Computers4Less. In this case, your full name should be the same, or very similar to your Twitter username. As you can see in the image below, Oreck has done this very effectively with their short brand name on Twitter. This not only secures validity and clarity for followers, but now reflects their vanity URL, www.twitter.com/oreck for proper search engine optimization.

Your Brand Name

If you have a personal brand or marketing theme that is an extension of the brand, you might consider choosing a contextually relevant Twitter handle or tagline that directly relates to your business, products or services. For example, if your marketing theme is “Build Great Websites”, you could use that as your Twitter handle.

A contextually relevant Twitter URL is a powerful way to build trust and confidence with potential customers. If someone you are following tweets: “I am looking for a new web designer for my blog, any ideas?”, who do you think she is going to respond to? A Twitter handle “@PeterDavidSmith” or “@WebdesignUK”?

If possible, try to use the same username that you are using for your brand’s social media profiles outside of Twitter. This will enhance brand awareness across multiple social networks through the same Twitter handle.

Tip: To see if your desired name is available across all social media platforms, check out the social media tool, NameChk. The tool will search 159 social media networks to see where your name has been used or not. If you discover your company trademark name is being used, simply contact Twitter about their Trademark Policy Violation to learn more about the action you can take.

Tips for choosing an effective username

Your Twitter username should be your business or brand name. However, if that is not available, you may have to create a username. Include a relevant keyword that accurately and succinctly describes your product or services in your username. This will help increase your searchability on Twitter. It will also help potential followers find you when they perform a search on that keyword and tell users what type of tweets they can expect from you.

Refrain from using numbers and excessive capital letters in your username as they are often associated with spam. For example, topplumber67937. Rather than using numbers to make your username unique, try using things like country codes or job titles instead. You can also use a combination of your name and your business name or industry – if that does not make the name too long.

Avoid the Underscore (_)

Although legal, you should avoid using the underscore (_) in your handle. Twitter search appears to ignore the underscore if a username is searched that contains the underscore, distorting the results when a username consists of two words separated by the underscore. For example, “andre_smith” becomes “andre smith” (a completely different person), distoring the results and omitting tweets originating from the author, tweets mentioning the author and tweets with a hashtag reference to that author. In addition, searchers would have to always remember to type in the underscore to return the correct results.

Keep it short

When choosing a username, try to keep it as short as possible. Tweets are only 147 characters. When people retweet your Twitter messages, they will put RT @mylongusername before the tweet, and may want to include a short message with the retweet. The longer your username, the less space there is for the re-tweeted message to follow. In some cases, the user may be forced to edit the original message, removing some keywords in the process. Twitter limits your username to just 15 characters for this very reason.

Using a relevant and meaningful keyword as your Twitter username would be very significant for SEO, and can help influence where you appear on the search engine results page.

Choose a strong password

It is extremely important to use a strong password for all of your Twitter accounts. A lot of  Twitter accounts get hacked, and that is because people tend to use “easy to guess” passwords. Getting a personal account hacked is one thing, but getting a business account hacked is particularly bad because it means people you are developing relationships with will be getting all sorts of spammy, lewd and unsavory messages from your account. Of course, most will simply respond by unfollowing you, but it could really damage the brand on the platform.

When selecting a password, mix it up with capital letters, numbers and special characters with at least eight characters. You can use the same hard to guess password for all of your accounts. Furthermore, get into the routine of changing your passwords at least once every six months.