What your Twitter @name says about you*

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It’s been a while since the COMMS coroner, our special investigative reporter here at the COMMS corner, has served up one of his trademark posts that gets under the skin of one of social media’s most burning issues.

Sadly, we couldn’t keep him and his ‘unique’ research findings from the public any longer.

So, without further ado, here is a special report into what Twitter @handles really say about you

(Note: thoughts expressed in this post do not reflect those of blog author Adam Vincenzini…unless you agree…or laugh…then he will claim them…)

Does your Twitter name really matter?
By the COMMS coroner

Apart from the name listed on your birth certificate, is there a more important place your name ‘lives’ in 2010 than on Twitter?

For the non-addicted, the answer is obvious, but for those afflicted by this condition, your @Twitter handle is your online identity…and offline identity in some cases as well.

But what does your Twitter name say about you? Does it say anything? Does it say everything?

Here’s what my special report revealed on this subject…using the fictional Jerry Fendaway as our example…

@Jerry – if he could be so lucky! People with a first name only Twitter handle are a rare bunch, having snapped up names early on (or have been blessed by a unique first name).

Analysis: These people could be considered as the earliest of early adopters…or the geekiest of geeky – either way you have to respect their pioneering spirit. This lot is also prone to experiencing feelings of resentment and jealousy from the mere mortals we’ll talk about throughout this post.

@JerryFendaway – setting the standard? Depending on when you joined Twitter, the first name / surname handle has always been held in high regard.

Analysis: A few schools of thought on this one. This classic format is often viewed as the most ‘professional’ of Twitter handles but perhaps also the most unimaginative.

Issues also stem from the use (or misuse) of capital letters with this option – @jerryfendaway could be confusing to the uninitiated eye but @JerryFendaway adds an element of punctuation that isn’t really necessary.

The jury is out on this one.

@jerry_fendaway – to underscore or not to underscore that is the question! I know people who LOVE the underscore, while others consider it amateurish.

Analysis: What my special investigation showed was that ‘underscorers’ were often late-ish to the Twitter game but very attached to their personal brands…either that, or they just had very common names and the name / first name option had already been taken.

Multiple uses of ‘_’ creates even more debate. @_Jerry_Fendaway_ isn’t a name…is it?!?!?

@jerryfendaway23 – the numerical curse. As soon as numbers enter the name equation it can be argued that a level of prestige is removed, creating a handle that is verging on ‘ho hum-ness’.

Analysis: “Name number’ers” are trying to do so many things – unique yet uniform, easy to find but just as easy to forget…I could go on. It’s dangerous territory but quickly becoming one of the few remaining ways to feature a full name on Twitter.

Or, are the days of numbered names, numbered???

@FiremanFendaway – I am what I my name says I am. The occupation plus name remix is another popular choice, especially by those who passionately tout their occupation via Twitter.

Analysis: This is a great choice if you can guarantee you’ll be a fireman for life or want to create a quick niche on Twitter, but if decide to become a dentist in a few years time you could face a Twitter identity crisis…heavy stuff.

@JFendaway – this one is a favourite of those with longer than usual surnames and often adopted by people who want to have a professional presence on Twitter.

Analysis: It is tough for the long surname afflicted. First name plus initial i.e. @JerryF is often out of the question yet ‘initial plus surname’ takes the personal touch away from what is supposed to be a very personal medium.

It is, however, decidedly better than @FendawayJ which is the poor cousin of @JFendaway (and we haven’t even looked at ‘two initials plus surname’ format i.e. @JCFendaway which sounds like a department store.

@RealJerryFendaway – really?!? Names beginning with @Real have traditionally been the domain of celebrities aiming to distinguish themselves from parody accounts which I can live with…kind of.

Analysis: However, add @TheReal to a name and patience begins to be tested. Even just @The is a tough one to get your head around. Often it is used in order to get a full name reference in i.e. @TheJerryFendaway but is it a bit much for a civilian? I just don’t know *sigh*…

There are a bunch of other variations Jerry Fendaway could consider, including:

@FendawayFella
@JerryAtFirehouse
@JerryTweets
@ThisIsJerry
@JerryF23

I could go on, and on, and on…but I wanted to (attempt) to get to the (somewhat) serious part of this post.

  • What impact does a Twitter name / handle have on your willingness to engage?
  • Is it more about the content the person provides?
  • Can you take a fun name seriously?
  • Does a creative name imply creative tweeting / thinking?
  • What will be the ideal format going forward as names are snapped up more and more? 
  • What influenced your name choice?

So many questions…love to hear your answers…

Submitted by the COMMS coroner

On behalf of @AdamVincenzini (the only Adam Vincenzini in the world…making that choice somewhat easier!)


* The asterix denotes that the findings of this research are officially unofficial

21 Comments

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Blonde

    And of course, there's a whole other world out there when it comes to those who hide behind pseudonyms…

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Amy Dutton

    I am intrigued…I chose my Twitter name (@pinotblush) because it's my favourite wine & sounds more interesting than Amy Dutton. Perhaps not sending the best impression to potential employers?!! What do you think?!

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Beth Carroll

    Adam, I think you will find the underscore is the mark of a creative. Like a typographical wink mid handle, it evokes a sense of ingenuity, yet is also firm and final, nodding towards intelligence and direction. I find your take on the use of underscore somewhat short sighted, although what one might expect from a fallow full-namer.

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Elissa Freeman

    Firstly, I want to know when and in what state of mind this post was written!

    But (as always) you do bring up some good points and alot of laughs!

    When I first joined Twitter, I was @elissa13 (my lucky number). Then I thought: "well, what the heck does that MEAN to potential followers? Esp those who think 13 is unlucky!"

    I then considered putting my

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    NehadK

    Fun post, but some seriousness does lie in there somewhere.

    What happens with personal branding across the web and social media space. Being one of the lucky ones with a unique enough name it's easy to synchronise across the board and have the same ID on different platforms. If not, using the one username, even if it is your full name, is the best option.

    As much as

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Florina Baciu

    Hi Adam,

    I've started reading this post and thought it was an good idea to debate but finished it by calling it a great one.

    I've joined twitter 2,5 years ago, and I've chosen my name – @Florina_B because I didn't thought too much about twitter back then. But know I'm beginning to wonder whether I would change it to my full name. Now, when I am signing on

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    OK, where to start…

    Blonde M – if only I knew who you were…

    Amy – I am very easy when it comes to this (as in me, not my alter ego) – it should be about what you are saying / how you engage.

    Beth – I think we need to take the underscore debate offline – or perhaps you can change your name to make your underscore 'real'?

    Elissa – I am just

  • Reply July 21, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Nehad – massive apologies buddy…hate suffering from the wrong name check…can I give you a refund?!? 😉

  • Reply July 22, 2010

    Paul Sutton

    Dear Mr Vincenzini, not all of us are blessed with an original and unique name. Indeed, when those of us who return 1.5million results in a Google search for our name (including a Ronan Keating tribute no less) need to change our username on Twitter because, let's say, we change companies and were (maybe) a little short-sighted in the first place, we find that every feasible option has gone,

  • Reply July 22, 2010

    exposedheart

    HAHAHAHA! This was awesome. I find humor in everything and definately found humor in this as well as some stuff to ponder, sort of.
    My twitter is @SierraWhite just because the name I wanted "wheattoast" was taken-everyone says my skin looks like wheat toast, lame I know- so i just went with my name. I personally enjoy when ppl have really weird names however it does make it harder

  • Reply July 22, 2010

    lucythorpe

    A pedant writes.. asterisk. Asterix was a Gaul

  • Reply July 27, 2010

    Jesse

    what about @lastname
    i didn’t see any comments about that

  • Reply August 1, 2010

    Anonymous

    when did it become “not stupid” to use your private name on the Internet?

  • Reply August 2, 2010

    Interceptor

    Well, I’m stuck with @Lexx2099, a combo of college nickname and numerals that only matter to me. I actually got on board early and didn’t take the time to think about possible future influence at the time. Shopws the value of thinking ahead I suppose. For the record, I still think the @V_for_Vienneta has the best twitter handle I’ve seen!

  • Reply August 2, 2010

    Anonymous

    Yay so hard to choose a Twitter account, especially when you’re named : Jules Deregnaucourt.
    Eh find somthing with that, Deregnaucourt doesn’t even fit in the “name” box !
    I chose @jules_Oo ; I know it can looks weird but that’s the only thing I got !
    If you have any ideas, Direct Message me on Twitter 🙂

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    Anonymous

    I chose @momwhoruns cause I am always running…running to carpool, running to get to work, running to get groceries.
    It was a natural name for me.

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    renepower

    Nice post. I’m leading a session on this internally to get people bought into Twitter for business and the importance of getting your username right.

    But when you adopt this thinking to your personal online brand as a whole, it magnifies the issue. further!

    Set up all the accounts you need in one swoop even if you dont want to populate them straight away. That way simple search and locate and SEO are preserved across the major platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Flickr, WordPress etc.

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    PlasticKat

    I’m @PlasticKat. It’s my own personal brand. I work in the flexible packaging industry. There are not many females in this arena and I wanted to stand out. My LinkedIn and FB are not this though. However my PlasticKat brand is also in use elsewhere on the web, Plastbook for example which is an industry directory of plastics professionals.

    Having said this my sister thinks I sound like I’m some sort of cosmetic surgeon. I can assure you that I am not – so don’t start tweeting me with requests for nose jobs!

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    amuletts

    Pseudomim all the way for me!

  • Reply December 6, 2011

    Cheribebe381

     http://twitter.com/cheribebe381 .

  • Reply December 6, 2011

    Cheribebe381

     http://twitter.com/cheribebe381 .

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