Ask Cinc: Securing Twitter usernames

Hey Kate
Say in a few weeks time I want to change my twitter tag to @secret can I reserve it in the meantime?
Matthew

Hi Matthew, 
There is nothing more annoying than coming up with the perfect Twitter username only to find it’s already in use! If you think you will want a certain Twitter username in the near future it certainly pays to secure it as soon as you can.  However, changing your username may not be the best option for you. Here are a few things to consider first and how to go about making the switch.
Hope this helps! 
Kate


How to secure a new Twitter username

All you need to secure a new Twitter username is a unique email address. Go to twitter.com and simply create a new Twitter account. On Twitter usernames can be reused again, unlike Facebook web addresses.

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T CHANGE YOUR USERNAME

As your unique identifier, your username will mainly appear when other people mention you in tweets. This is why it is a bad idea to constantly change your username. You want people to know what your username is so they can correctly mention you or tag you in their Tweets. 

A good username is immediately identifiable, simple and easy enough to remember and not too long. Your username should be relatively permanent and only change for a very good reason, like a business name change.

If you like to mix things up or want to change your Twitter brand for a campaign, stick to changing your name, not your Twitter username.

CASE STUDY - @DrContractFacts

In 2014, then Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg took to Twitter to combat a campaign against changes to doctors’ contracts. His office set up a new Twitter account with the name Lawrence Springborg and the username @DrContractFacts.

Journalists mentioning Springborg in tweets would tag him @DrContractFacts, which was confusing for anyone not closely following politics. It became a problem in the 2015 election when every tweet to the Health Minister and Member for Southern Downs reminded other Twitter users of the old controversy over the doctors contracts. 

In this case, Springborg should have created a Twitter account in his own name. This account could have answered the questions. Alternatively, a separate account could have been created simply to answer the questions about the contracts.

WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO CHANGE A USERNAME

If your business does change name, updating your username is a great way to keep your followers. If you simply start a new account you will lose all your followers. 

Changing a Twitter username

It’s also simple enough to change your name and your username… as long as you are on a computer, not a mobile device.

To change your username, simply click on your profile picture and select Settings from the drop down menu. You will then see your account settings and can change your username, by simply typing in a new username. Twitter will advise you if it is available and if it is, hit save and your username has changed. 

SWITCHING USERNAMES

If your business is set to change its name, you will probably need to update your username. You’ll probably know what the new business name is, but may have to wait to officially change it. This is where you should secure the new username as early as possible. Don’t worry, you will be able to use it later!

  1. When it comes time to switch usernames, log into both accounts on a computer. You can be simultaneously logged into two accounts if you use two different browsers, like Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer. 
  2. First change the name of the account that has been holding the new username. You can change it something completely random. 
  3. Save your change and immediately go to the other browser and change the username of your main account to the username you had been holding. Hit save. 
  4. You can close the loop by changing your holding account to your old username. This ensures you still have access to it if you really want it and that any mentions referencing the old account are still linked to you. You can update the bio to direct people to your new username if you wish. 

 Playing by Twitter's rules

Of course, Twitter has it's own rules that we should follow. Username squatting is prohibited by The Twitter Rules. The rules state:

Username Squatting: You may not engage in username squatting. Accounts that are inactive for more than six months may also be removed without further notice. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be username squatting are:

- the number of accounts created
- creating accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names
- creating accounts for the purpose of selling those accounts
- using feeds of third-party content to update and maintain accounts under the names of those third parties

However, Twitter also states in their Username Squatting Policy 

Please note that if an account has had no updates, no profile image, and there is no intent to mislead, it typically means there's no name-squatting or impersonation. Note that we will not release inactive or squatted usernames except in cases of trademark infringement.  If your report involves trademark infringement, please consult those policies for instructions for reporting these accounts. 

Attempts to sell, buy, or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.