A Rose by any Other Name: Choosing the perfect Twitter handle

Photo Courtesy of hercampus.com

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t join Twitter for the fabulous networking opportunities or to stay on top of industry trends.

Originally, I joined Twitter to follow my favorite music artists. But it wasn’t until I got involved with PRSSA that I learned about the true potential Twitter has as a PR tool.

I noticed that executive board members of PRSSA had their respective Twitter handles on their business cards.

When I started going on outings with PRSSA, I noticed that professionals did as well.

When our advisor, Regina Luttrell, wanted to share something with me, she said simply, “OK. I’ll just tweet that out to you. What’s your username?”

It was then that I faced my dilemma.  I knew that I needed to get a new Twitter account but what should I call this new online entity of mine?

I wanted something PR related with a little pizazz, yet still professional.

If you find yourself in this position, here are a few tips that I have found helpful for creating the perfect Twitter username:

Don’t be afraid to stick with the name your mother gave you.

It may be tempting to make up something like @Rocket_Gurl or @QT_PieXoXo but what does this do for your personal brand?  If you guessed “not a whole lot,” you’re absolutely correct. Consider that awkward moment when a recruiter for your dream internship asks for your Twitter handle and you have to respond, “@BeerPongChamp.”

Also, remember that professionals use the search option on Twitter to find you and using an alias could prevent them from connecting with you. Being that PR is all about connecting, networking and building relationships, this is counterproductive and should be avoided.

Numbers and underscores: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

If you’ve included numbers or underscores in your Twitter username, don’t fret! This is not the cardinal sin of Twitter names.  However, they do little to enhance your brand.  @JohnSmith is much more memorable than @John_Smith8604.  The former is cleaner and much easier to say.  If you were giving it to a coworker or professor, he or she could remember it easily.  Also, a fair share of Twitter users tweet via smartphones.  Numbers and underscores require extra keystrokes and smartphone users want a name that is easy to enter.

Please keep in mind that there are judgmental “Twitizens” who perceive numbers and underscores as a lack of originality.

If your first choice Twitter handle isn’t available, you don’t have to resort to numbers and underscores.  Your industry, job title or company can be added on.  For instance, @JohnSmith is probably taken.  However, @JohnSmithPR or @MarketingJohnS may still be available.

Brevity is key.

When you tweet, you want replies and retweets. This is how one gets engaged in the “social” part of social media.  When a person retweets or replies to one of your tweets, he or she has only 140 characters to use in their response. Therefore, it is wise to choose a name, which is included in their response, that will absorb as few of the 140 characters as possible.

Always keep in mind that Twitter is about promoting your personal brand.  Shorter names are easier to remember, making them ideal for Twitter.  @JSmithPR is much better than @JohnTheFanciestPRGuruEverSmith.

After all was said and done, I chose @ChrisColePR as my Twitter username.  I believe it is simple, short, professional and will help me establish a personal brand.  By following these guidelines, I am positive you’ll find the perfect Twitter username, too.

Christopher Cole
Vice President of Public Relations
EMU PRSSA
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