Eight Twitter username tips

What you call yourself on Twitter matters. We take a look into all the features that make it important.

Twitter is growing fast . Grab your name fast! Actually, it's probably too late. But don't give up and settle for a lame name. What you're called on Twitter matters. Here's our advice for picking your name:

1. Don't be afraid to use your real name. There's nothing wrong with using your name on Twitter. I do it. And so does Rafe. Granted, we're public figures, but that's not the point. If you're using Twitter as a networking tool or an opportunity to connect with others for personal or professional enrichment, calling yourself "DarthVader918345" isn't the smartest decision. Use your real name. Those you're communicating with will appreciate it.

If you want to hide, what are you doing on Twitter?

Related tip: Especially if your real name is taken, use your real picture. That way your friends will know it's you.

2. Don't use curse words or obscenity in your username. It's not common, but I've come across some folks who decided to throw some curse words or suggestive concepts into their username. I don't get it. Anyone who really wants to contribute something to the community won't use their username as a vehicle to shock others.

3. Do tell us about your profession or your interests. If you're using Twitter to expand your professional network, you can use your name to tell us what you do. If you're a plumber, say so. If you're an attorney, tell us. There's no better way to attract followers than to give them a hint about who you are. If your followers know you're a plumber, maybe they'll ask you how to unclog a drain. Even better, maybe they'll ask if they can hire you to fix their plumbing. For personal users, if you're a gamer, say so in your username. If you love PCs, we want to know it. Every time I see someone who puts "Yanksfan" or something like it in their username, I follow them because I know that we have something in common. There's nothing better than to have a Twitter dialogue with someone who shares your interests.

4. Do be creative. If your preferred username is taken and you don't want to use your name, be creative. Make it meaningful. Make it funny. Do something that interests us. It'll pay off.

5. Do distinguish yourself. Tom75 and Tom85 might as well be the same person to me. If your username is similar to another person's username, I'll probably have trouble distinguishing between the two of you. I know you don't know the taken usernames before you sign up, but don't just add a bunch of numbers after your name. That's so 1999.

6. Don't look like a bot. The seasoned Twitter user can spot a bot in seconds. Usually, it's a generic business name or an obvious scam, like "Free_Books." Even if you're legit, don't use a name like that. It doesn't tell us about you and it makes us wonder if you have purely commercial motives.

7. Don't use a celebrity's name unless it's your name too. Impersonating a celebrity is lame. Don't do it. Nobody likes a faker.

8. Do consider its impact. How will your chosen username affect the way other users view you? Will they want to talk to you after they see your username? Will they immediately block you? Picking a username isn't as simple as choosing the first word that comes to mind. You need to decide what kind of impact you want it to have and go from there. If you want to insult, you'll have no trouble. If you want to show your loyalty to someone or something, go for it. Either way, the username you choose will affect the community in some way. Make it positive.

And after you sign up, follow me on Twitter!

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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