Twitter User Names and Real Names
by Jo Shaer, on October 11, 2012
When I first set up my Twitter account, I was fumbling around in the dark because I didn't understand the difference between Twitter user names and real names, indeed I'm pretty sure that there wasn't a choice back them. You only got one choice and I chose @joshaer because I wanted it to be me talking on Twitter not a business.
However, during an exchange with Royal Mail customer services on Twitter recently, they called me 'josh' and that got me thinking. My all lower case with no gap username was causing confusion and I had noticed that some people were able to use the facility name @ business so I thought I would investigate.
Twitter will only allow you to have one user name per email account but, if you want to set up more than one off the same email, although for those who feel the need to have more than one running off the same address, there are work arounds if you Google it.
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Twitter User Names
This is the @JoShaer bit. Your User Name is the name that will become part of your Twitter profile address - so twitter.com/joshaer. It can contain up to 15 characters and this is what you and your friends will see in bold each time your tweet.
Twitter Real Name
Confusingly, your 'Real Name' is what you use to identify yourself to friends and this can contain up to 20 characters and appears in lighter type next to your user name whenever you make a tweet.
I realised that @joshaer was now something of a problem. I thought about changing it to Lollipop Local so that it would read Jo Shaer @ Lollipop Local and consulted Twitter User Names Support for more information. I realised that I could do it as my existing followers would just see a new username next to my picture when I updated. Twitter to advise you to send out an update before you change as if anyone tried to reply or direct message your own name, these would be lost in the ether as they would not be connected to the changed user name.
However, on reflection, I still wanted my followers to be addressing me as an individual rather than me as a comopany and I think it looks better that each tweet shows my real name in bold and my company in the less pronounced type, rather than the other way around.
Twitter should be about personalities interacting with each other, not businesses shouting their status updates with no proper communication.
But, from an SEO point of view, I had to get something about what my business actually did into one of those names.
How to change Twitter User Names
So, in the end, I went into the Settings section of my Twitter profile - the drop down menu that appears when you click the downward arrow beside your picture at the top right. Then I went into accounts and changed my user name to JoShaer. Because the letters were still the same, everything seemed to resolve back from joshaer to JoShaer.
From there I clicked the Profile tab to get to those settings and made my real name Lollipop Local SEO - it's not the most searched of terms but it's growing and it does describe what I do.