Ah, “personal branding.” Definitely a topic worthy of a straw poll.
I’ve been thinking about changing my Twitter name. Why would I do that?
The usual response I get when I meet Tweeting folk is one of surprise — “oh that’s you? I had no idea!” So that’s not good. Plus, I find that @spaghetti_p is pretty long. Including the @ symbol, it’s 11 characters, and I’d rather something less than 10. Finally, it’s kind of dumb and I’m pretty tired of it.
So why did I choose it in the first place? It was a halfhearted attempt at carrying something from the name of this blog over into my Twitter presence. (It’s hard to be original at 1 a.m. when you are signing up for the latest social site.) Also my real name is extremely generic, so @petersmith was long gone by the time I got to Twitter. As was @smith, @psmith, @smithp.
But it been a long time since I’ve been tweeting as @spaghetti_p. The majority of my followers know me under that username. More significantly, my Twitter presence has the most “reach” on a daily basis – it’s my main “social habit.” It’s the public place where I interact most with others online. So is there a risk in changing it?
At a technical level, I had first thought that the answer would be no. On Twitter.com, all I have to do is change my account settings and automagically, everyone who’s following @spaghetti_p will be following whatever new name I choose. But almost immediately I realized that it’s not that simple — I’ve set up a lot of profiles elsewhere (main public ones listed on this blog’s about page, and I can’t forget internal-to-GC ones also) that point to the URL http://twitter.com/spaghetti_p. It’d take some work to re-point all these — but it’s doable and obviously worth it.
I also came across multiple listings of my Twitter account throughout the ecosystem of apps and services that has grown up around Twitter — quick examples: Topsy, TwitIQ, FavStar, Sency… the list goes on and on. I’ve never heard of most of these & have no idea what they do. And what happens to them if I change my Twitter name – do they also update? Do they break? I suppose mostly it doesn’t matter, they’re just machines.
What’s more important to me is: will folks find this annoying? Will they unfollow? Will they even care? And do I even care what anyone thinks? Mainstream “personal branding” thinking says I should — online is my calling card, and Twitter is the primary channel for that and yadda yadda yadda. But I’m not a product to be managed, ya know? I’m a mere human. So the answer to all of these, even the last one, about which I feel really ambivalent, is: I don’t really know.
So I’ll give up and turn it over to you: should I change my Twitter name?