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Tuesday
Oct102017

Changing My Work Twitter Handle

I've been on Twitter a while now, but since starting in my current business role I've had a separate account for my work posts. I've been posting non-work things to @sylumer and work items to @SAP_Stephen. However last month I changed my work Twitter account and in this post I'm going to talk a little about the reason and approach.

Why was I posting as SAP_Stephen?

Let's begin with my business Twitter account. In my previous role I tweeted from my @sylumer account, but when I started my new role in 2011 I was asked to create a new account specifically for business use. It was to be owned by me but the feeling was it was better to separate out work related posts from my usual posts … and I could see the logic in that given the types of things I could see posting; some sort of delineation could be beneficial.

At the time there were a number of other Twitter accounts in use that began with the term “SAP_” that were in use by SAP partners (such as the organisation I work for). It was a fairly quick and simple decision at that point to select the name.

In hindsight I do wish I'd chosen something different at the start.

Why did I change my Twitter handle?

Fast forward several years to 2017 and there's a greater focus on social engagement within the organisation. Having been at the forefront of trying to raise the organisation's digital profile I was glad to see the uptake and also glad to see others pushing it forward. However out of that came some new social media guidelines and one of the directives was to change away from referencing “SAP”.

The primary basis for this was that we don't work for SAP and this could be misconstrued by those viewing Tweets.

I don't totally agree with this as there continue to be many others using this term outside our organisation and outside SAP. I clearly stated my organisational affiliation and views on my Twitter profile as well. However I can see the point and my expertise does encompass areas outside of SAP … and who knows where we'll be in even just five years time.

Choosing a new Twitter handle

Tying my Twitter handle to any particular organisation or technology, when I thought about it, was actually quite limiting. With some reluctance I accepted the “need” to change my Twitter handle. Now came the hard part - choosing a new one.

The key factors that I kept in mind were: 1. The name had to be available - the number of available handles get less every day as the number of taken handles increases. 2. The name had to be easy to spell and not ambiguous - it makes it easy for people to jot down and remember. 3. The name had to be relatively short - whilst the rules around names in Twitter posts changed a short name is easier to remember and fit in other places (intro slides, business cards, etc.) 4. It should not be tied to a particular organisation - I don't want to be in the same situation again. 5. It should not be tied to a particular technology - after all who knows what I'll end up doing down the line? 6. It should reflect my interests and topics of posting - notably technology.

After a few days of pushing around a few ideas I settled on the handle @techflare.

This met all of the criteria I'd set out. It also worked on a couple of levels. Having a flare for technology is hopefully something my colleagues and clients recognise about me and by posting about it online I hope to attract people's attention like a flare or beacon. All in all it seemed a good fit for what I wanted my handle to say about me.

The change

Whilst I fairly quickly came to terms with changing my Twitter handle I still had some reservations. I'd been using the @SAP_Stephen handle for a number of years and whilst my followers would trsnafer, my Twitter handle is out there on a number of resources (both physical and digital) and I really wanted people to still be able to find me.

The key factors that I kept in mind were:

  1. The name had to be available - the number of available handles get less every day as the number of taken handles increases.
  2. The name had to be easy to spell and not ambiguous - it makes it easy for people to jot down and remember.
  3. The name had to be relatively short - whilst the rules around names in Twitter posts changed a short name is easier to remember and fit in other places (intro slides, business cards, etc.)
  4. It should not be tied to a particular organisation - I don't want to be in the same situation again.
  5. It should not be tied to a particular technology - after all who knows what I'll end up doing down the line?
  6. It should reflect my interests and topics of posting - notably technology.
I posted from the SAP_Stephen account about the change and then pinned that post on the profile.

I did also consider setting up a Crowdfire account to auto reply to new followers on the SAP_Stephen account, but in the end I decided I'd probably done enough and if a users didn't realise there was nothing to follow, it was probably a Twitter-bot and not worth following up against. However if you need to go through this process and have a healthy follower increase coming in from static references to an old Twitter handle then it may be something you take a closer look at.

Conclusion

Whilst I still wish I'd take more time to think about my original choice of Twitter handle, the whole process to change it was quite straight forward. Hopefully the above considerations and approach might help some of you who have to choose a new Twitter handle and/or switch to a new one.

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