Changing your social network username – what are the issues?

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OUR SOCIAL MEDIA IDENTITIES are not like other representations of our business or personal lives.

Why are they different?

Well put simply, like our friends, we can’t necessarily choose them. There are just too many people and businesses who share the same name, for everyone to have their perfect name in the social space. The name that they feel best represents them as a person or business.

In fact, one of the biggest dilemmas facing young people in 10 years time, will be finding an available username! Already on many platforms, people have to resort to birth years and other appendages to their name, or even something completely unrelated.

In a future with billions of socially connected people, the chances are you won’t be getting something recognisable. The web just isn’t like street addresses where we have dozens of letters and numbers to play with.

We all know that search engines look for relevance, but if our business is called ABC or our name is john Smith, clearly we will have an issue to overcome if our social network presences become our highest ranking in search. A quick search of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, brings another issue – possibly an even a bigger one. Facebook’s search is much less advanced than Google, meaning it can be a difficult task to find someone or a business we are looking for.

As marketers, this works the other way and makes it harder for us or our clients to be found.

Our own dilemma.

This brings me on to an issue we face in our business.

For many years now we have used the Twitter name @b2bdata, for a number of reasons. Back in 2008, this was the main focus of our business and as we wanted to build thought leadership in this space, through Twitter, we wanted to feature high in the search for ‘b2b’ and ‘data’ when gaining new followers. Evidently, this was a good strategy at the time, because we rank among the highest on twitter for both terms.

Twitter however, has progressed and changed and so now our Twitter name has been left behind a little, based on our diversified offering of digital, social and direct marketing consultancy. We also now work across b2c as well as b2b now.

A more realistic reason

Another major reason we chose @b2bdata, was because our ideal Twitter name had already gone to someone else. An issue which many of you have also faced and will continue to do so.

Over time, some accounts have become available again, so we now have the opportunity to change our Twitter name to @knowledgebank. This brings with it lots of positives, but also some issues. I thought this may be a problem others have faced or will face in the future, and we have already had plenty of feedback, so here’s some ideas around what issues might arise when changing your social identities.

1. All of your previous links may no longer work. When people connect to your pages, they are probably using a URL that is designated by the social network. In Twitter’s case, this would be http://twitter.com/b2bdata.If we change our Twitter name, this would change.

2. Your marketing materials might suddenly be incorrect. Many people have used their social network url’s on their marketing material. With smaller businesses they tend to bulk order in advance meaning you might end up with hundreds or thousands of out of date mailers. That QR code you embedded all over the place will no longer point to your social presences either.

3. You might lose followers. This depends on the tools that your followers are using to listen to you on social networks. In many cases, these tools will simply adjust when the account changes, though in the case of social media monitoring tools and Google alerts, where the search is based on a keyword, they will no longer work.

4. People may no longer connect the account to you. Many of us have become associated with people in the social world by their social pseudonyms, rather than their real names. Most celebrities also arrived late to Twitter and by the time they did, their namesakes, legitimately in many cases had already got their name, so this affects everyone.When you change that – even to your real name, if it becomes available, people may no longer associate the account and more importantly, the content with you.

So bearing all of this in mind, should you change?

Well it depends. If you think that the new identity suits you or your business better, the first step is to try to make a list of everything that will be affected by the change. You should probably also try to make it publicly known that you are changing and let people tell you what they think. In our case, there is a split opinion from our followers, so the decision comes back to us.

If we decide to change, you will find out soon enough, though we’ll keep this post up to date when issues arise so you can learn from this.

If you have also gone through a similar process or are thinking about changing, let us know in the comments and we can share some of these ideas.

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About the Author:

KnowledgeBank work with Companies to develop their data driven marketing solutions to generate profitable new customer relationships. We also deliver social media training, consultancy and strategy to hundreds of businesses across the UK. If you would like further information about how you can develop your own marketing activity or social media, please contact us on 01772 978 101.