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What’s in a (Twitter) Name?

Paulwillshowu is now following you on Twitter. Does this name look rather fishy to you? It should. This is an actual user account on Twitter that was suspended due to strange activity, which probably means the person (or program) who set up this account was going to use it for the sole purpose of spamming the Twitter stream of flow.

Your user name on Twitter is the first impression people have of you. Even before your profile or any of your tweets are read, your name can be a big clue to who you are and what your purpose is. Many people decide to use their name such as JohnSmith as a username. Using your real name can let other people know a real human is trying to get to know them, rather than a program that is just trying to push a product on them. This isn't always the case, of course, but your real name can be the perfect choice for your username.

A business is a little different on Twitter, but can follow the same rules. Comcast Customer Support, for instance, has ComcastCares as a username. Many businesses decide to use the business name as the sole account and the employee’s first name followed by an underscore to denote single users within that business. For instance, back to the Comcast example, you could have Jane_ComcastCares as an account for Jane.

Your user name can be a difficult thing to come up with, especially if you have a common name or don’t feel comfortable using your given name on the Internet. A simple, yet memorable, name is always best. Here are a few tips when deciding on a user name to employ for Twitter.

Go solo – Choose a name that can be used across many platforms. Chances are, if it isn’t being used on one, it won’t be used on other sites either. This helps people looking for you to find you easily. If they know your username on Twitter, then they can find you on LinkedIn as well. It's a simple way to add to the branding of your business.

Personal – If you have a common name, instead of using underscores or numbers, (which makes it look like you didn’t spend much thought on your name) try using initials or different combinations of your name.

Length – The shorter the better. Remember, you only have 140 characters. When someone wants to reply to you, your name takes up a portion of those characters. If your name is 40 characters long, you're limiting their ability to respond. Lengthiness also makes getting the spelling correct harder if someone is using a mobile device. Keep it short and sweet.

Characters – Try to avoid the use of special characters such as $, _ and %, as well a numbers. These characters are typically used by bots trying to spam the system and people tend to shy away from incoming requests. This also makes replies difficult from a mobile phone. How long does it take you to spell out @$horty_179 on your key pad? Chances are many folks won’t want to waste their time even replying to your tweets.

Spend some quality time deciding on your username. Make it personal to you so it fits your style, but also make it unique and keep others in mind. Follow these few steps and your Twitter name will be created in no time. Then all that's left to do is to get out there and start tweeting.