Strategies for choosing Twitter handle

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Micro blogging has really taken off in Sweden the last month, with both political parties, brands and traditional media joining Twitter. A Swedish micro blog service called also opened up for the public recently. With more people signing up to for example Twitter – the total number now somewhere around 6 million users – it will become increasingly difficult to find a good username, or “Twitter handle”. And since micro blogs rank high in Google, your personal brand will benefit from putting some thought into your user names. As an example, in a Google search for “kullin”, three of the top ten hits are my micro blog accounts. In other words, time to sign up to Twitter now, if you don’t want to be know as “3bob_68” in the future.

Here are some advice about how to choose Twitter handle, gathered from the blogosphere.

1. One name
Services blend together and with a growing friends list it will be hard for your followers to remember if your handle is “joesmith” on Twitter and “j_smith” on Jaiku. Try to choose a name that is available in most of the services you sing up to. Of course, that makes it even harder to find a handle that is available, but if you do, your friends will instantly recognize you across the web.

2. Real name
Your full name or a variation of it will make it easier for people to recognize you at a conference or event. It also treats your name like a brand. Every time you tweet, you promote brand awareness for your brand. [Taken from Hubspot]

3. Short is sweet
With only 140 characters to use, every letter is valuable. It’s not generally an issue but when people want to reply to you or retweet your posts, the handle “shel” is way better than “matsandersson”. At least five of my friends have changed their Twitter handles recently and without knowing their reasons for doing so, I noticed that they have all chosen shorter handles.

4. Avoid numbers and underscore
Underscores and numbers give the impression that your first choice was taken, or it gives the appearance that you aren’t putting enough thought into your username to think of something unique. [Taken from Flyteblog and Hubspot]

5. Your blog name
If you already have a blog with a name that is well known in your community, using it as a Twitter handle makes Twitter a natural extension of your blog (like “problogger”).

6. Continuity
If you already have a nickname that your are known by on forums or other networks, it might be the best choice to keep it also on Twitter.

7. A combination of your name and your company
If you will be the only person representing your company on Twitter—and you do not plan to make a company Twitter account—this is a great way to represent you and your company at the same time. [Taken from Hubspot]

8. A combination of your name and your industry
Use this type of handle if you would like people to remember the industry in which you work. This way people will always associate you with your specialty, and it’s a good baseline to develop thought leadership. [Taken from Hubspot]

The good thing with Twitter is that you are able to change your handle after signing up without losing your network.

And finally, it’s ok to pick a handle with attitude, but if you want to be known as “keyinfluencer“, be prepared that the fall will be dramatic if you don’t act like the social media expert you position yourself as. The Ketchum/Twitter story is quite amazing.

Footnote: I am @kullin on Twitter.

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