Sometimes we outgrow our Twitter handles. I did.
At the same time, once we’re established, the thought of losing the possible thousands of followers we’ve already amassed can be quite daunting. Undeterred, I looked into this anyway.
It is actually possible to change your Twitter handle through your account settings in just a few clicks. Take a look at the screenshot below:
This ensures that you keep all your profile data (profile text, images, previous tweets, followers – essentially everything), just with a new name. Brilliant, right?
There’s a catch:
Your old name now becomes free. At best, it turns into a Twitter 404 page. See below:
At worst, some sneaky or malicious character can spot the existing link juice pointing to your old username and that it has now become available. They can use this to spam your followers or even impersonate you, damaging your image and potentially scamming your friends.
On top of that, you lose all the link juice you already built for your old profile!
There is a semi-fix, and that involves doing what a spammer might have otherwise done in your place:
- First change your username, as described above.
- Now register a new account with your old username.
- Give this new account with your old username an appropriate profile picture that clearly indicates your username has changed. See mine below:
- Put one tweet out on that new account to direct people to your new username. For emphasis, you could use that picture again.
- Add a link to your new username in the URL part and explain that this is an old username in the profile for the new account.
- Also consider following your new username (and following your old one from the new account) to highlight that it really is you and draw more attention to the new username.
- If you so wish, you can also change your background image. I didn’t bother, as I figure the profile image is enough.
Okay, I lied. Not exactly the same links, as there is no 301 redirect going on here – but it’s the next best thing.
Now you have no excuse for not changing your Twitter handle as your brand and business evolve!
There are times when you may wish to change your username, the name or photo on your profile, or any aspect of your bio. You can do this easily by following the steps below.
A common change is your username. When initially choosing your username it may be that your exact name has already been taken. People then go on to choose an abbreviated name, add numbers or characters to their name, or choose something more random. Whilst this provides you with a unique username, you should question how easy is it for people to find and remember your chosen username.
Another reason might be that the name of your team or organisation has changed. Rather than create a brand new account and risk losing your followers, simply change your username (and other details on your profile).
Changing your username will not affect your existing followers, Direct Messages, or replies. Your followers will simply see a new username next to your profile photo when you update. It is helpful to alert your followers in a tweet before you change your username so they can direct replies or Direct Messages to your new username.
Change your username
- Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android).
- Click on Settings and privacy from your profile icon drop down menu.
- Under Account, update the username currently listed in the Username field. If the username is taken, you’ll be prompted to choose another one.
- Click the Save changes button.
- Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android).
- Go to your profile.
- Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your name.
Your username appears in your profile URL and is unique to you. It’s used for logging in, replies, and Direct Messages.Your display name is a personal identifier (sometimes a business name or real name) displayed in your profile page and used to identify you to friends, especially if your username is something other than your name or business name.
How to customise your profile
- Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android).
- Go to your profile.
- Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your:
- Header photo (recommended dimensions are 1500×500 pixels)
- Profile photo (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels)
- Bio (maximum 160 characters)
- Theme color (only editable on twitter.com)
Click or tap into any of these areas and make your changes.
When changing a profile or header photo, click or tap the camera icon and select Upload photo or Remove. Photos can be in any of the following formats: JPG, GIF, or PNG. (Twitter does not support animated GIFs for profile or header images.)
You can also choose to Show my Periscope profile through your Twitter profile (available if you’ve connected your Twitter account to your Periscope account). Click or tap Save changes. If your Periscope account is connected, your Twitter profile will show LIVE on #Periscope when you are broadcasting.
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First – Make sure your desired new username is not taken already.
Simply go to www.twitter.com/your-desired-name to see if there’s an account there or not. If you see the “Sorry, that pages doesn’t exist!” page, you’re in luck.
Now let’s deal with your followers.
The good news is that Twitter switches over all your EXISTING followers, direct messages, and @replies automaticaly for you. Your followers will simply see a new username next to your picture. So you might want to send a tweet telling your followers that you’re about to change your username.
However, after you change your username, any NEW @replies or messages sent to your old username will not be associated with your account anymore. (Don’t worry – I’ll tell you how to retrieve any of those stray replies and messages shortly.)
Let’s make the switch:
- Log into your current Twitter account. If you’re using “Old Twitter”: Click on Settings in the menu bar on the top right corner. If you’re using “New Twitter”: Click the drop-down box next to your username in the top right corner – and select “Settings”.
- On the Account tab, you will see your current username in the box immediately below your real name. Change that to the new username you’d like to use. If the username is available (which you know it is, since you did your homework above!), click Save at the bottom of the page.
You will then need to enter your password in the appropriate box to complete the change.
Note: Your new username or name will take a little time to appear in name search. http://twitter.com/#!/search/users
- Now logout of twitter. And then signup for a twitter account with your old username again. You’ll need to use a different email address. You also might want to update your profile pic and background to match your new twitter account.
- After you have that account setup again, tweet about your username change – and send them to your new twitter account.
Now that you have your “old” Twitter username back again, you can monitor it for awhile to find any new @replies/mentions or messages that are sent to your old username. Respond to them appropriately – and consider mentioning to them that you have changed your username.
If you’re rebranding, things you need to know about changing your Twitter username
As we’ve discussed, once you’ve made that change, your ‘old’ name will be released and made available for someone else to use. It therefore, may be useful to register another account to hold the original account (if you think you may want it again).
For example, when we rebranded to RAW Digital Training, we knew we would need a new Twitter handle. Our existing name was @RAWMarketingCo, which was on brand with The RAW Marketing Company (our then, name), so weeks before we were ready to announce the rebranding message, I registered @RAWDigi, to support our new RAW Digital Training name.
So I created a new account to secure the @RAWDigi username, ready for us when the time was right. Of course, when the time was right, @RAWDigi wasn’t available (because I had registered it with a different account), so here’s what I did –
- Logged into @RAWDigi and changed the username to @RAWDigi2 (thus freeing up the @RAWDigi username)
- Logged into @RAWMarketingCo and changed the username to @RAWDigi (thus freeing up the @RAWMarketingCo username)
- Logged into @RAWDigi2 and changed the username to @RAWMarketingCo)
- Changed the BIO of the @RAWMarketingCo to point any straying visitors to the correct account
So, in short, I swapped the two accounts. This gave me two distinct benefits.
- The new account had all followers, content…everything, preserved
- The old account name was secured, preventing anyone else from registering it, to capitalise, or impersonate us
So, there you have it. If you’re rebranding, or just fancy a change, you can update your username to be something you’d prefer and just keep on providing great Twitter content.
Question: Have you ever changed your Twitter username? If so, did you create a new account, or swap the username?
The Easy Way
Changing your username could hardly be simpler. Pay a visit to Twitter and sign into your account. Click the gear icon to the upper right of the page and select Settings. In the Username field you can enter the name you’d prefer to use and you’ll be told whether or not it’s available.
When you’ve found a username that you like and is available, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click the Save changes button. You’ll be prompted to re-enter your account password before the change is made.
The New Account
This is all well and good, but it is not a perfect solution by any means. If you have made reference to your old username in blog posts, emails and other places, people looking to follow you could end up following someone else — as your old username is freed up as soon as you change to a new one.
A better option would be to sign up for a completely new account. You want a new username so the easiest thing to do it is to just create a new one, isn’t it? This is certainly an option, and is easily achieved. You’ll have to sign out of your current account, or use a different web browser to create a new one.
Return to the main Twitter page and to the lower right of the page enter your name, an email address other than the one you have used for your existing account, choose a password and hit Sign up for Twitter.
You’ll then be prompted to choose a new username, and Twitter will check to ensure that it is free. When you manage to find a username you like that is still available, fill in the rest of the details requested of you and click Create my account.
You’ll then be guided through the process of setting up your account so you can be up and running quite quickly.
The Clever Way
But this is still not ideal. The best way to tackle changing your Twitter username is to use a combination of these two methods. It might seem slightly longwinded, but it’s well worth it, and leaves you in full control of your account at all times.
Using the first method I’ve outlined you end up losing your original username. This might seem like a small price to pay, but it’s something you could end up regretting. Using the second method, you end up with the username of your choice, but you have to start from scratch building up a new set of followers.
What we are looking to do in an ideal scenario to create a new account and transfer followers to it. This is not something that can be done, but with a bit of fiddling it is possible to switch the usernames of two accounts, effectively taking your followers with.
It’s not possible to just swap usernames between accounts — they are both in use, after all. What you can do however, it temporarily change the username of one of your accounts to something you are not interested in keeping. This frees up one of the names you are interested in so you can assign it to your other account.
This may sound complicated, but it’s not really. I’ll break down how I did it.
- I had been using the username @sparklemarkle for many years but decided that it wasn’t quite suitable for what I was using it for. With this in mind, I used another email address to register the username @MarkWilsonWords.
- The account I wanted to use as my main one (@MarkWilsonWords) now had zero followers whereas there were scores following the one I no longer really wanted. To make it possible to flip usernames between accounts, I started by temporarily renaming @sparklemarkle — I don’t recall what I use, but it doesn’t really matter… something like @sparklemarkleABC.
- I now logged into the newer @MarkWilsonWords and rename this to @sparklemarkle (as the username was now available again).
- I then very quickly — so as to avoid anyone swiping my new account name from me — logged back into the temporary @sparklemarkleABC and rename it to @MarkWilsonWords.
But there’s something else to bear in mind. While your new account still has the same number of followers that you had before, it is possible that people will still find you using your old username. This is why it is important to retain both usernames — the older one can be used as an advertisement for the new one.
Log into your old account, and change your profile details so that it lets people know of your new username and also consider posting a tweet to the same effect. As an extra measure you might want to have both accounts follow each other.
Step 2: Pick an Available Username
This will bring you to the Account page of your Twitter Settings menu. As you can see below, navigate to the “username” field and type in your desired new Twitter name. If the username is taken already, you will be prompted to enter a new one.
Once you have found an available Twitter name you like, simply scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.
The first option under settings is your username. This is your Twitter handle. Notice the box allows you to edit or completely change your Twitter handle. So long as the Twitter handle is available simply click “Save Changes” down at the bottom of the page and you have a new Twitter handle.
Twitter Handle Considerations
This is a list of tips, not hard and fast rules. There are a lot of good reasons to break these tips.
- Shorter is Better: When someone replies to you the Twitter handle is part of the 140 character limit. You can have a maximum of 15 characters (which is actually 16 characters with the @ symbol). Suggestion to stay under 10 characters.
- No Numbers: It is surprising how connected you feel with your Twitter PLN. People will call you by your Twitter handle like it is your nickname. It may not bother you to be introduced as @bob2384 but it is something you may want to consider. Numbers are also difficult for people to remember, especially if the numbers are only meaningful to you. This reduces the ability for people to engage with you if they can not remember your Twitter handle.
- No Underscores: When typing Twitter handles on a mobile device the underscore is on a different keyboard screen. Try to avoid using underscores.
- Think Spelling: Think about how easy it is to remember how to spell your Twitter handle. If you think people may make spelling mistakes, you may want to rethink what you are choosing.
- Brand Yourself: You are trying to connect with educators on Twitter. If possible try to make your Twitter handle your name or something that indicates that you are an educator.
- Memorable: If you are not using your name for your Twitter handle you may choose something clever, which is great, but consider if it might be hard for people to remember. Especially if you are being creative with the spelling.
- Avoid Character Confusion: Is that a lower case L or an upper case I? An O or a Zero?
- Avoid Job Location: You may not be in room 63 forever and you may change school sites. Life an be unexpected, suggestion to not include things that could change in your Twitter handle.