How to choose a good Twitter name

Note: this was written in 2009 – four years before I started working at Twitter.

Choosing a username on Twitter matters a whole lot more than many other services. As the site gains more and more popularity, I hope these tips on how to choose a good Twitter name will come in handy.

  1. It will be what you’re known as in the social world of Twitter, not just what you use to log in. Choose something fun! And best to avoid numbers, special characters, or anything unpronouncable.
  2. People will be typing your username to send messages to you, like “@paulannett“, so it should be short for their convenience.
  3. Messages sent on Twitter have a maximum of 140 characters, so it’s annoying when you have to use up 1/10th of a message just with someone’s unnecessarily long username.
  4. If you’re Tweeting as your business, use the business name you’re known as (when I had a problem with a Little Tikes toy, I eventually found them on Twitter under the name @ CozyCoupe – who’d have known! I notice they’ve now changed their username to @littletikes).
  5. If you’re Twittering as yourself, don’t use your business name. People will only follow businesses they have an interest in for fear of just getting a load of spammy messages.

Sorry to use my friend Hannah as an example here! She’s a fantastic wedding photographer from London and her business is called Funky Photographers. Her personal Twitter account was originally @ funkyphotograph, which is inconveniently long to type, takes up over 10% of any message to her, isn’t her own name and isn’t quite her business name either because the maximum length for a username is 15 characters (but it sounds like a business so that might deter some people from following her). As a result of reading this, she’s now changed it to @MrsMacG — a shortened version of her surname, and a much better choice!

How to Change Your Twitter Username

If you end up registering with a username you later want to change, all is not lost. Unlike many services, Twitter does allow you to change your username at any point, and you retain all your followers. Remember to tweet to your followers about your new username or they might be confused where you’ve gone and who this new person is that they’ve never heard of!

It’s worth mentioning that your username is also your web address on Twitter, so if you change your username any links from other websites to your old messages will stop working. All my messages are stored at twitter.com/paulannett and because my timeline is set to public rather than private, many of them have been indexed by Google. Were I to change my username, all of these links, and those from any other website, would break. Not such a problem if you’re relatively new to Twitter, or if you don’t care about such things as link rot.

You can change your Twitter username on the ‘settings’ page – just follow the link from the menu in the top right corner of your Twitter page.

Please leave a comment below if you found this post helpful at all (why not include the name you chose!), and remember to follow @paulannett!

40 thoughts on “How to choose a good Twitter name

  1. Your note on choosing username is helpful. Couldn’t decide whether to use my own name or some semi-disguised variation.

  2. Hi Paul-thanks for your helpful info-it gave me more insight into Twitter – however, I’m still trying to decide my user name, but, I am closer to a decision with your info. Also, your info was very well-written (unlike some blog posts) – which I really appreciate.

  3. Thanks so much.
    I will be a first time user of twitter but knowing it will be part of an identity which could ‘stay’ with me – makes for much more careful deciding.
    Thanks for providing your thoughtful input.

  4. Twitter is very addictive. I like Twitter more than blogging. the messages are short and straight to the point.

    [edit – I’ve removed the spammy link to a detox website – Paul]

  5. I agree a short name is a good idea. I think also a name that seems close to a “real” name is good. People are less likely to follow cd93l32k username. Because of all the incoming links, twitter ranks really high in search engines, use this to your benefit. If you want people searching your real name to find your twitter area you should make sure to your first and last name in your userid when you register. Good article!

  6. Good hints, but I’m still finding it hard to figure out a good business-type name, when my name is already very common and all variants are taken!

  7. Hi @nicepaul – Good post. Thanks.
    I fell into tweeting because it was the only way to properly communicate with a particular co-worker. Far more effective even than poking him in the ribs and speaking to his face. Odd, but there you are.
    So my twitter name is mixture of a work nickname and an allusion to where I live @villageip
    And it bears no resemblance to my blog at http://www.blackwatertown.wordpress.com
    I am wondering now if I should change it.

  8. Hello Paul,

    Very usefull. Starting is difficult and names are important as you wear them longer than your socks. I opted for my websitenamewichisquitelong.nl. But your warning came in time. Choose @peejtr instead. (Peter Peet. Peetr. all taken offcourse) Pronounces the same as peter in dutch. And a rhyme / lookalike with tweet??

  9. Thanks for the information, Paul. I haven’t tried to sign into Twitter yet but have been viewing the helpful tutorials provided by Scotworkman.com
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r9Luin9KLU&feature=related and read other articles that advised using your real name. Margaret Bohannon-Kaplan contains twenty-three characters if the hyphen is included. Your information indicates my name on twitter will now be MBohannonKaplan to meet the fifteen character requirement. I had already signed up to bit.ly which will now shorten the fifteen characters to minimize the space my twitter name will take up in emails etc. I recommend bitly to everyone as a url shortener http://bit.ly/pages/partners
    Best,
    Margaret

  10. “Inactivity is based on a combination of tweeting, logging in, and the date an account was created”

    Drats! So they can keep “logging in” daily and sit on it forever without an update. Thanks for the additional information.

  11. Sipylus – remember that Twitter is as much about consumption as publishing. They could quite rightly use it to read the updates of others without wanting to write any updates themselves.

  12. Thanks for the post. I’m the image manager for DubStep Fitness and in charge of their twitter account. This post help me set up their account and my personal one as well. Please post more on the topic of how to maximize twitter followers as well please.

  13. Thing is, I am trying to setup a business name for a law firm … and that’s what the firm is known by in the area. but so many letters and special characters. Kind of hard to use your business name in that regard. Seems almost better to come up with a short business alias; even though I understand your story about littletykes.

    • No, you can’t have any special characters like apostrophes in your username except underscores.

      But you CAN have @royal238, and it’s available. Gotta ask why the 238 though? Unless it has meaning, I’d avoid numbers.

  14. I enjoyed reading this article, the comments and your helpful replies. Not an earth shattering revelation by any means but it’s nice to see something interesting amongst the usual dross I seem to read.

    • I agree, I think the other name doesn’t get the point across to her potential customers until take the time to actually go to her page – there are plenty of sites that will let you tweet more than 140 characters. Not trying to be critical, I just think it sounds edgier to consumers and gets right to the point!

  15. Simple, straight to the point, very good!
    Would be happy to know something about Capital letters and small cases: often a trade off between readability and easy to type

  16. Thank you. This is clear, well written, very helpful. I’m brand new to Twitter. Would like to use “criswhite”— which uses the short form of my first name, but 9 times out of 10 people spell it with an “h” so I fear tweets meant for me would go to someone named “chriswhite”. Do you think capping the “R” would work? “cRiswhite”?

  17. Hi Paul, I have never twitted before… but now got the desire to start. Your info is quite helpful and most appreciated. Still deciding on a name, because I don’t want to fall through the cracks… Lil

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