Has your Twitter username become a relic? If you set up your account years ago and your username (or “handle”) no longer reflects your firm’s brand, it may be time for an update. Fortunately, you don’t have to start over with a new account—you can change your Twitter username and retain the followers you’ve built up. Below are two options for changing your Twitter username, as well as best practices to follow.
It’s More Than Just a Name
As with any social media platform, your Twitter username represents your brand and leaves an impression on visitors to your profile. It’s critical that the username you choose is professional and makes sense based on your business. Ideally, it should be consistent across all of your social media accounts to make it easy for people to find you and tag you in posts.
Why You Might Need an Update
Even if you’ve been using your Twitter username for years, there are a number of reasons why it may have fallen out of date. Fortunately, Twitter allows you to change your username without losing any of the posts and interactions you’ve shared with your followers. To ensure that your online presence is current, consider updating your username if any of the following applies to you:
You’ve changed the name of your business or have done substantial rebranding.
The evolution of our industry has led to a change in your clients’ needs, and you’d like your profile to reflect that change.
Your current username is not strategic (e.g., it’s too long or looks unprofessional) or includes a mistake.
Your Twitter username is inconsistent with usernames you use on other social media accounts.
Be sure it’s the best move. While it’s simple to carry out, the decision to change your Twitter username should be considered carefully. Some brands can lose more than they gain from changing their username, as it can be confusing to followers if they’re not informed of the change or if the new username is more difficult to remember and include in tweets.
Make the Right Call on Your New Username
If you’ve decided it’s in your best interest to change your username, you’ll want to keep a few best practices in mind. Think about what an ideal username would be not just today, but for years into the future; this will help you avoid having to go through the renaming process again.
If the username you want is taken but no longer active, try reaching out to the account owner directly to ask if they will allow you to use it. Usually, you can find a way to contact the person through a simple Google search. Twitter has a strict rule against paying for usernames, so if the account owner wants you to pay, be aware that doing so puts you at risk of being kicked off the platform.
If you’re unable to secure the username you want, an alternative is to modify it slightly to find something that’s available yet still memorable and relevant. For example, you could add a location (@FirmNameMA) or an underscore or hyphen (@Firm_Name). But be mindful of length, as your username contributes to the character count for any tweet in which it’s mentioned.
2 Options for Changing Usernames
Once you’re ready to transition to your new username, there are two ways to carry out the change without losing your followers:
Option 1: Update your username within your existing account. The easiest way to change your Twitter username is simply to edit it in the settings of your existing account.
Log in to your Twitter account, click on your profile picture, and select Settings and privacy.
Enter your desired username in the corresponding field. If the username is not taken, “Available!” will appear.
Save your changes to confirm your new username.
Send a tweet to let your followers know you’ve changed your username, and resume tweeting as usual!
Option 2: Create a new account to “squat” on your existing username. This second, more complex option is useful if you prefer to “squat” on your current username so no one can claim it in the future. But doing so is frowned upon by Twitter and probably isn’t necessary unless you have specific concerns, such as that another user might take over your old conversation history.
Create a new Twitter account with any available username (e.g., @TemporaryUsername). Once the transition is complete, this account will host your @OldUsername. So for now, any username will do.
Log out of the new account, then log in to your existing Twitter account, click your profile picture, and select Settings and privacy.
Enter your desired @NewUsername in the corresponding field. If the username is not already taken, “Available!” will appear. Save your changes.
Log back in to the @TemporaryUsername account and select Settings and privacy. Update the username to your @OldUsername and save your changes.
Send a tweet from this account to let visitors know you have a new username. Pin the tweet and log out.
Log in to your @NewUsername and send a tweet to let your followers know you’ve changed your username. Begin tweeting as usual with your new account and username!
Aim for Consistency, Across All Platforms
Let the updating begin! With the new username established, remember to update any references to your Twitter account, such as your website, other social media pages, email signature, business cards, and marketing materials. And keep this exercise in mind anytime your messaging or brand needs to shift direction. The content and tone of your messaging, across the many interactions you have with your clients and prospects, should always match up.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2018, but we’ve updated it to bring you more relevant and timely information.