Choosing a Twitter name

Twitter is probably my favourite social media avenue. I’ve been on it since about a year after its inception, and though it has its limitations (notably the 140 character limit), it’s flexible and powerful.

If you’re starting a new enterprise and are just signing up for a new Twitter account, the first thing you must decide is your username or “handle” — your identity on Twitter.

The keys are relevance, brevity, and towering above all else: it must be pithy.

My dictionary describes pithy as:
2. (of language or style) terse and vigourously expressive

So, here’s your task. What best describes you in a dozen characters or less? (The limitation to 12 characters at maximum is a bit arbitrary, but remember that every tweet — and those much-desired retweets — will carry the weight of your username, so be kind and be brief.)

  • Your name? Should you go with @firstnamelastname – your first and last name run together? Or @firstinitiallastname – your initials and last name?

This works great or a lot of professionals whose name is their identity. From @rickygervais to @chrisbrogan to @richardengel — their names are, in their fields, how they are known.

  • Your domain? If your domain name is greatwidgets.com – perhaps you choose @greatwidgets

This is a good choice if you’re domain name isn’t uncomfortably long. It works well for @brainpicker and @mashable and @vanityfair and is a common solution to the question of Twitter ID.

But they got there first!

This is the downside of coming late to the Twitter party. As happened recently with a client, if some young woman in Brazil chose your domain name (let’s pretend it’s redrose.com) because it struck her fancy to be @redrose, and even though it’s been three years since she’s posted to Twitter, it’s still hers. You have to get creative.

So maybe you choose: @myredrose or @sendaredrose or @redroseinc or @TheRedRose … you get the idea. You can make this annoyance a strength by using @sendaredrose — if your business is sending red roses.

The Irish Independent ( independent.ie ) uses the quite acceptable Twitter handle @TheSundayIndo which is meaningful, brief, and descriptive.

Are you local?

If you serve a limited area, it might be useful to work that into your Twitter username. For example if you are a dog-centric service that operates in Boise, you could go with @boisebowwow, which is fun and memorable, even if your domain name is something like boisedogservices.com.

Need some ideas?

Start with your domain name. Make it brief. Is it meaningful? What short words describe the crux of your business or service? Get out a piece of paper and go wild with ideas.

Now, get on your web browser and start throwing your favourites into the address field: twitter.com/MYGREATIDEA (where ‘MYGREATIDEA’ is your idea for a Twitter name). This is a great way to see if your idea for a Twitter username is already taken.

Are you a design client and need some feedback? I’m happy to work with you on this. Let me know in our Project Tracker blog or send me an email.