Archive for twitter

Twitter NFL Promoted Video Ads

AdAge covered some details about the Twitter and NFL Agreement on promoted twitter video pages in September last year but this is the first time that I have seen them until this point.  It certainly pushes Twitter into the space of being able to better commercialise brands content marketing activities and potentially steal advertising revenue away from YouTube. It could also create a whole new medium for Twitter that Facebook & Google+ can then look to borrow “steal” for their own promoted videos.

This video is promoted by McDonald's

If Twitter can make this work there are likely plenty of other sport based content marketing channels such as Australia’s AFL, English Premier League, PGA Tour and ATP World Tour that will be chomping at the bits to get in on the ability to drive more revenue from short video segments.  I think the strategy of focusing on sports is a perfect fit for Twitter and could potentially drive a lot of revenue to them and their content partners.

It’s interesting to see that they don’t have the standard Twitter Promoted message seen in the examples shown last year shown below for Verizon. I’m wondering if this is temporary message as I think the un-styled disclosure message  shown above “This video is promoted by McDonald’s” looks horrible and fairly amateurish compared against the original and standard promoted tweets.Verizon Tweet

If you click to play the video about the Twitter fan getting a prom date with a NFL Cheerleader you are run through a 8 second McDonald’s breakfast pre-roll ad.  So this certainly confirms you are consuming content that paid for by McDonald’s, the sad part is that current ads don’t appear to be using different pre-rolls based on time of day.

This means that if I’m viewing the video it could be matched to my local time zone which is Europe and since it’s 9pm run a pre-roll ad about late night menu options at McDonald’s.  I checked and it’s currently 2:34pm in Houston, Texas so it’s not even breakfast time in the US which I think would have made for a far more effective pre-roll ad.  I know McDonald’s is pushing it’s breakfast menu but some tailoring of pre-roll can go a long way.

McDonald's Ad

Compared to Instagram’s very public stumbles when it came to launching their new promoted ad programs, I was also surprised that I couldn’t see any negative Tweets back to the @NFL account about the very obvious McDonald’s promotion appearing in their news feeds. So what do you think you pre-roll ads coming to your Tweet feed?

Twitter App Cards Hijacked for Spam

It seems some folks have found a way to spoof Twitter cards for their own personal benefits.  The spam Tweet shown below that I was sent tonight looked like a standard Twitter App card for Pinterest mobile app but it’s certainly not!

The link is obviously not a for Pinterest or the App store but what makes this attempt scary is that if they picked a domain that was similar enough to Pinterest then it would potentially be very successful and far harder for users to notice.

One other reason that it failed is that this is a random account but if this tactic was done from a compromised account then it’s possible more than a few people may click the link expecting to download the Pinterest app.  It should be easy enough for Twitter to shut these type of exploit down as this time the data-user-id#106837463 was identified as invalid and the data-screen-name was https://twitter.com when it maybe should have been something like https://twitter.com/Pinterest?

Twitter

The First Link link goes from the Twitter shortner to a random and unique long URL.  It seems every tweet got their own unique URL so there is automation and tracking in place so you should be careful not to click these types of links for any reasons!

redirect-1

The Second Link shows a 302 redirect to some type of php script, typically check.php is a tool that can be used to diagnose code issues such as CAPCTHA verification images not showing so you should be concerned if something a bit more advanced is running.
redirect-2

 

What to do if you receive these types of Tweets?

You should report these types of links directly to Twitter and NEVER EVER click on the link in the Tweet as your computer can easily be infected with malware! You can report spam tweets directly to tweet here using the form in the screenshot below.

spam-linkIf you know for certain that there is something suspicious about the tweet you can also flag the media by using the link shown in the screenshot below in the hope it may reduce the chance other users see and click the tweet link.  I’ve got no idea if Twitter actually makes use of this feature for identifying spam.

flag-tweet

 

Insights and Thoughts on Fake Twitter Followers

Fake Mercedes in ChinaA fair while ago I did a test on one of my affiliate Twitter accounts where I made the dumb decision to bulk buy a chunk of followers. The question on is it ethical and if it was the right thing to do is a more complicated question that does not have a perfect answer in a fast moving area such as Twitter.

This post is not about what services or platforms people use to buy or sell fans but more so about how you can identify if your social media consultant or agency is pulling the wool over your eyes and cutting corners to reach your follower targets.

I feel that if you are paying someone to organically grow your Twitter follower base and they are cutting corners by buying fake followers or paying people to follow your account without disclosing this to you as part of a strategy then something is wrong and should be rectified asap! Just like the fake blue Mercedes Truck shown in the picture to the left be honest on your Twitter tactics used with clients if you are using Bulk/Fake fans as part of your overall social media strategy.

Why is buying Followers not cut & dry?
There are several high profile social media figures, celebrities and marketing agencies that are well know to be buying fans to grow their audience numbers and amplify their reach. There are a lot of reasons such as social proof or to encourage herd behaviour that leads to more organic/natural followers of your account the old “fake it till you make it” mentality is often at play in social media.

There is also not a clear line between buying with Twitter Ads official platform as some of those people that click on your ads are guaranteed to be any more engaged that fans attained by unofficial channels.

If you are using a service that will offer you a guaranteed 1000, 10,000 or 100,000 followers in a short period of time you can pretty much guarantee that these will be fake accounts and bots but platforms setup to encourage following may result in slightly higher quality fans. There are also a number of social behaviours such as #OperationFollow or #TeamFollowBack that can also be questionable ways of growing your audience as most people who use this eventually use bulk unfollow tools to shift their follower to following ratio to make it look like they are better than they are.

How are people influencing Twitter numbers/engagement?

  • Guaranteed Follows
  • Follow back circles
  • ReTweets
  • Favourite Tweets
  • Added to Public Lists

What Characteristics do fake followers have?

I have included a poor account that StatusPeople Faker report picked out that was following one of my affiliate accounts that has previously “purchased” followers.  You can see that some of the obvious traits the account has includes:

  • no avatar image
  • no full name
  • no location of account specified
  • no profile description
  • no profile URL
  • very low following to followers ratio
  • no tweets
  • default cover image
  • default twitter background
  • following random accounts
  • following accounts with no common theme/language
  • the account was only created recently
  • they often haven’t been connected to Klout, TrustCloud or Kred platforms

Fake Follower

Please remember that while there are a number of smaller factors that while easy to influence in the short term over a long period of time they can also be signals that something might not be right with the accounts followers or they are partly automated.

  • Do they only ever RT certain hashtags?
  • Do they followback and unfollow fairly systematically
  • They never engage in conversation regularly with other accounts
  • They never engage in conversation with multiple accounts
  • Do they only tweet self promotional links
  • Do they send DM spam if you follow them back
  • They don’t speak the same language (no tweets in your language)
  • They are inactive and don’t tweet but still follow new accounts
  • They follow have a low number of accounts following them back

How can you identify fake fans of your account?

One of the best solutions is to use Twitter analytics but the downside is that it only lists the top handful of your top 9 followers your followers also follow.

  1. Look at geographic location – As you can see from the screenshots below the location of followers is heavily skewed towards eastern Europe with 44% from Ukraine, 11% from Belarus, and 12% from Russia.  As you can see from the Twitter analytics screenshot below a majority of the fake accounts seemed to be proportionally higher in eastern Europe for this particular account but this can also be linked to the provider you used.  Some of the higher priced services allow you the skew your request of followers to a particular country so this is not always perfect but in an ideal account a majority of your followers should be from either your business location or your targeted geography.
  2. Look at interests & top interests – You can see on the left side of the screenshot below what are your followers interests.  These are clearly warning signs for this account as having followers interested in “cosmetic surgery” “weight loss” or “face care” are most likely linked to spam and questionable affiliate products which is not even close to what this accounts main audience is.  An interesting interest is Chess but I have to say it’s certainly a unique interest, but the key factor to look at is how common these interests are with this accounts followers.
  3. Look at who your followers also follow – This might upset one or two folk mentioned as I suspect with such a very high percentage of similar following that many of these accounts used the same service to spike their following numbers.  I find it very hard to believe that accounts so different can have such a similar bunch of followers. If the 9 accounts listed had a close online relationship such as same industry or company then it would explain the data but this does not appear to be the case.  I’m not saying all the accounts listed below have fake followers but more than a few have far too much in common.
Twitter  Follower Interests, Locations and Followers

Twitter Follower Interests, Locations and Followers

How can you identify fake fans of any account?

There are a handful of services that allow you to check your account by connecting with your Twitter account to see how you perform.  One platform I’ve been using for a while is Status People’s Fakers report that gives you the following snapshot top level snapshot for Fake/Inactive/Good followers, I ran this on the affiliate account that had previously purchased bulk fans and it didn’t turn out too bad.

Fakers Twitter Score

If I compare those stats against my main account @DavidIwanow with the same report shown below, you can see it flags just 3% of accounts as fake which is not too bad.  But you can see the difference in stats between the two accounts, one purchased a bulk fans and my main account didn’t.

David Iwanow Twitter Score

The downside to the free version of Faker Scores is that it only allows you to do 3 searches so if you are planning on doing a detailed analysis you might want to consider their paid product.  I also ran another account in a similar vertical to my affiliate account that I’ve seen promoted prominently on several “buy follower” sites as a “premium/vip” member but found that Faker Scores actually scored the account as having 49% good fans and only 4% are fake fans.  This is the downside to some of these tools is that careful use of unnatural follower growth can be masked if you spend more and stay clear of bulk follower services.

But another product that I have just starting playing around with as part of the research into this post was Twitter Audit.  The benefit of Twitter Audit is that unlike the free version of Faker Scores once you login you can run multiple Twitter audits and it will provide different insights but also store your past twitter audits and include a time stamp so you can track how things have changed. You can see below the dashboard report of this accounts top 9 accounts that have followers in common and how many fake fans they potentially have according to Twitter Audit. Some of the accounts have a massive skew of fake followers that have been acquired by inorganic means.

Twitter Account Audit

Who Buys Bulk/Fake Twitter Fans?

There is almost no vertical or industry that I’ve have not seen fake/bulk fans being purchase with several celebrities such as Lady Gaga and even President Obama have suspect followers according to a 2012 NYTimes article. As pointed out in the NYTimes article if you have a public account you are not required to approve followers so it’s also easy to bulk purchase fans for an account that you don’t own or manage just as it is to do it for yourself. Similar to negative SEO it’s very easy to do a follower blast to a competitor and discredit them and they will just have to wait until those new followers accounts unfollow or are shutdown.

I’ve had clients who have seen a massive spike in new Twitter followers increase by thousands in days but it’s more common to use fake likes on Facebook as that can mean their account is flagged and can be suspended.  But a lot of these new Twitter followers start to unfollow fairly quickly and the account returns back to a slightly higher previous follower number.

I don’t see that Twitter is currently proactively shutting down the big bulk/fake services but this will certainly happen soon if Twitter wants to increase the value proposition of it’s Twitter Ad platform for growing your fanbase. The problem for Twitter currently is that the cost per follower on Twitter can range from around $0.09 to $0.75 depending on the targeting options and user location so being able to buy tens of thousands of fans for less than a penny each does create an interesting moral dilemma for social media marketers.

Final Thoughts on Bulk/Fake Fans?

I think there is always a market for buying influence and since people still judge number of followers as a success metric there will always be a benefit in inflating your ego/audience by doing it.  Considering platforms like Fiverr have tasks offering 1,000 fans for $5 and while Twitter’s self service advertising platform is not available in all regions there will continue to be a demand for scalable ways of growing your social audiences.

I guess it’s up to brands and marketers on if you want to flip the coin and buy bulk/fake fans to inflate your audience size and hope it doesn’t impact your credibility in the long term. Just like Google never used to really penalise bad SEO they changed this over the past 2 years with Penguin & Panda could Twitter do the same?

Has Twitter Ads violated Tobacco Advertising Laws?

I noticed an interesting promoted Tweet today, it seems that the twitter account @GreenSmokeCig has started running Twitter sponsored advertising across visible to Australian users promoting their electronic cigarettes. This raised alarm bells in my head as I understood that it’s illegal to advertising Tobacco products in Australia and many other countries around the world.

GreenSmoke

I checked Twitters Ad Policy and Tobacco is listed as “services and industries have legal, cultural or safety restrictions” but it seems they don’t enforce compliance just trust that their advertisers are following local legal requirements. The grey area where Twitter looks the other way is a gold mine for advertisers willing to take a bit of a risk but highlights the importance of WHO programmes such as the Tobacco Free Initiative. Is Twitter so desperate for money that they would allow continued promotion of Tobacco products? What filters are in place to ensure users under the age of 18+ are not seeing these ads?

What countries have they reached?

Because GreenSmoke is using a bit.ly link it’s possible to see what countries are generating the clicks on their campaign URL. It’s possible to see that 49% of the clicks are being generated from visitors outside of the USA which is apparently their target audience for this current campaign. I’m not sure how many of the other countries that are as accepting on the issue. Because they are a online store they are able to supply globally so it’s not a reasonable argument to say this campaign was only targeted at US audiences as the campaign was visible globally.

Countries

I’m not a lawyer and this post questions Twitter on the ethics and moral grounds of running Tobacco advertising but I think the matter needs to be further explored on if it does violation local Tobacco advertising laws. I’ve included a short piece of the TAP Act that I feel is most relevant to the Twitter promotional tweet ads. Tobacco advertising has shifted more money & resources into reaching their audience via social media over the past few years and Twitter Ads just look like an easy channel for reaching a global audience.

Australian Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Act 2012

15A Tobacco advertisements not to be published electronically
(1) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person publishes something, or authorises or causes something to be published; and
(b) the thing is a tobacco advertisement; and
(c) the tobacco advertisement is published electronically; and
(d) the tobacco advertisement is published in Australia.
ComLaw Link

What do you think?

Has Twitter violated TAP Act with their promoted Tweets or just accepted payment for looking the other way? Don’t worry about Tobacco advertisers there is always an app for that…

Twitter offers LOLcat language support

LOLcat Army

Twitter has announced LOLcat has been launched after a Hack Week project to raise awareness of their translate Twitter project. The Twitter community translation program allows “text strings” in the user interface to be translated.

LOL Cat Twitter Translation
Direct Messages = Direct Messujs. Kthaxbye!
New Message = New Messuj
Home = Hum
Discover = Discovr
Following = Followin
Who to Follow = Hoo 2 Follow
Expand = Expan. kthx
More = Moar
View Conversation = View Conversashun
Interactions = Interacshuns
Mentions = Menshuns
Email Notifications = Email Notificashuns
View My Profile Page = View mah profile puj
Language = Languuj
Tweet Location = Tweet Locashun
Add Location to My Tweets = Add Locashun to muh tweets
Translation Center = Translashun Centr
Let others find me by my email address = Let udders fin me by muh email address
Forgot your password = Foargot yur password
Cancel = Cancel. Kthx.

What other languages are next?
It’s possible that the emergence of LOLcat language that a whole new range of Twitter languages might be coming soon. I would expect these are the more likely languages that might be added soon if Twitter stops trying to claim proprietary rights of the text strings that are translated:

  • Dwarvish (Lord of the Rings)
  • Elvish (Lord of the Rinds)
  • Sindarin (Lord of the Rings)
  • Klingon (Star Trek)
  • Vulcan (Star Trek)
  • Wookie (Star Wars)
  • Huttese (Star Wars)
  • Simlish (SimNation)
  • Dothrakl (Game of Thrones)
  • Fremen (Frank Herbert’s Dune)
  • Vampirese (Blade)
  • Parseltongue (Harry Potter)
  • Na’vi (Avatar)

Try LOLCat out

You don’t have to change your language settings to test the new language you can click this link to see how it looks in the screenshot of my account below.

David Iwanow Twitter

Force Twitter Profile Header Update

Twitter launched it’s new profile centric “ME” pages this morning on US morning tv show, but the problem is that like any update you have to wait.  It seems verified accounts have been given early preference to the new twitter header feature, but I discovered you can force the update by visiting https://twitter.com/settings/design.  I have also outlined the steps below to show you how easy it is to enable to new twitter header image.

Step1 - Old Profile

Step1 – Still Seeing Old Profile

Step3 - Select a new Twitter Header Image

Step3 – Select a new Twitter Header Image

Step4 - Save & You Are Live!

Step4 – Save & You Are Live!

Twitter Branding Decisions Reviewed

One constant point of discussion is why I still tweet as @thelostagency instead of using my personal account @davidiwanow, I know there are people that refuse to follow my brand account just because they don’t feel it’s personal enough.  The question is how would success change for me as a marketer if I swapped to be using @davidiwanow exclusively and stopped using @thelostagency? This article is not so much about pure facts and metrics but is instead focused on actual marketers and their personal views using personal vs brand handles on Twitter.

What bout the Top 100 Twitter Accounts

It’s interesting that a majority of the top accounts on Twitter are using their owners real name, which relates closer to their success at personal branding and ability to secure their real names. Celebrities are often far more focused on building personal brands that sticking with a nickname or brand they built from the ground up but there are still a number that are not using their real names across social media.  You can see that most celebrities atleast use their first name to make it easier to link their personal brand to their social brands.

  • Ellen DeGeneres @TheEllenShow
  • Ashton Kutcher @Aplusk
  • Adele @OfficialAdele
  • LeBron James @KingJames
  • Demi Moore @JustDemi
  • Nicole Polizzi @Snooki
  • Russell Brand @RustyRockets
  • Neymar Junior @Njr92
  • Niall Horan @NiallOfficial
What about those in the marketing/search industry?
I reached out to several people I engage with on Twitter who are also tweeting on behalf of a brand or nickname, but most now feature their full name and real picture as the avatar.  The question I asked was why they picked a brand for their twitter handle, why they have decided to stay with it and would they consider swapping to their @realname if it was made available? You can see that some people have a clear and precise reasoning behind why the are not using their real name and others are using both at times starting with me.
Question Asked: Why do you tweet as a brand/company and not as your real name?

One of the biggest points is that @thelostagency is the name that most people in the industry know me as, but also it’s always just felt like a security blanket I could sit behind when throwing stones or sometimes stirring the pot.  The amount of time and effort I have put into @thelostagency twitter account far outweighs my commitment to @davidiwanow with around 28 times the number of tweets from my main Twitter account over it’s lifetime so it feels established.

It’s not a massive issue but since @thelostagency is the primary account linked to all my social profiles initially and it’s always been my default account for self promotion and engagement with businesses and people in the industry I have always felt scared about trading it for my real name. When I started in this industry I felt comfortable sitting behind The Lost Agency branding and since I decided early on dedicating much of my time building a brand than struggling to make it as an individual marketer.

While I could easily rename my main account and swap between the two and gain an instant following but would it make a massive difference to my social profile and would people unfollow my account if they didn’t understand the change and what happened to @TheLostAgency.  Also I would assume it would change how I use my Twitter account and the tone of my messaging if it’s coming from me personally instead of from @thelostagency? Do most marketers know me as David Iwanow or The Lost Agency??

Chris Thomas @Reseo
So we use @reseo for a couple of reasons. The first was to secure the channel, trying to make sure we didn’t end up losing it to a squatter. We continue to use it as the entire team are logged into it which means they can post on behalf of the company (not that they do very often!). The account also uses my name as a secondary option which adds a bit of personality. Some of my guys also have personal accounts which they use quite a bit for more ‘personal’ tweets. I don’t think we’d like to change things to be honest, we’re pretty comfortable with the current set up.

The reason why I chose the brand name as my handle was because protecting my brand name felt more important that protecting my personal name. Since getting on board with twitter in 2007 I’ve since realised that twitter is a place were people interact and not brands. So we changed the profile image to be a photo vs logo. Given that it’s been on my list of things to do. I’ve just setup @ChrisMeMedia :)
Here’s my 2 cents … I had already been writing on the servantofchaos.com website for several years when Twitter came along. I remember thinking that it might be worth making the shift to @gavinheaton – but realised pretty quickly that most of my friends were already used to the servantofchaos name. Then as the size of my Twitter following grew, it just became too difficult to think about shifting. Along the way, I had the opportunity to also start using the @gavinheaton account. This account has a very different audience and a very different tone and focus. Having the two accounts allows me to tailor specific conversations for different people and groups.
I used Twitter as a tool to build the profile of Snappy Sentences when I first started the business – so I wanted people to recognise the business name rather than my name. I also have @sally_bagshaw (which I may switch to one day), but for the time being I’m happy being known as @snappysentences. I think if I had a company with a team of people I would have made the move by now (to a personal handle), but as it’s just me behind the brand I’m comfortable keeping it as is.
In our case, we intentionally blur the lines between person & brand. The question is strictly a Google organic decision. Ideally it should be both, for defensive purposes. Also, there “are” both aimClear and Marty Weintraub in this world. Conventional wisdom dictates that both profiles should be procured, even if the personal one is not active.Even past the social media aspects of Twitter, reputation defense in the SERPs is an overriding concern. You sure would not want a third party squatting on either your brand OR personal terms.

I do have @bryaneisenberg never used it. I was given the grok nickname in the late 90s. It is how my original newsletter got it’s name too. I am no longer affiliated with that newsletter but I’m still known as TheGrok.

Edward Lewis – @PageOneResults
“Why not @EdwardLewis” Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking real names when signing up for Twitter. Everyone in this industry knows me as P1R (PageOneResults). It was only natural that I continue using that handle. I wish I would have had the hindsight to use my real name but oh well. Also, @EdwardLewis is another SEO in the UK. Imagine that? :) Also many of us older SEOs have stuck with our forum usernames I think.

Brian Wallace –  @Nowsourcing
Why I picked a brand and stayed with it? Well, if you look at how I have it set up, it’s kind of a hybrid. My Twitter handle is @nowsourcing but the user shows up as Brian Wallace. At the beginning, I had used my brand logo rather than a headshot as an avatar and felt that it was too impersonal. Pete Cashmore at Mashable utilizes the same strategy of using his name and headshot vs a more corporate play. Would I ever swap to a real name? Well I do have @brianwallace (not active for now), but I think there is inherent value in having a face to your brand. The more corporatized social media becomes, the more the users of the system want their brands they frequent to be more human.

Tad Chef@Onreact_com
Back in 2001 when I chose onreact.com as my domain name I knew that I want to reach a global audience. My real name is unpronounceable outside of Poland. When I joined Twitter in 2008 I wanted people to find my site easily. Sadly Twitter blocked URLs as names so I had to use the underscore. I have come up with the nickname Tad Chef ever since. I have secured it, onreact and my real name on Twitter as well. I may use them for different purposes in the future.

Chris Dimmock@Cogentis
I wasn’t sure at the outset which way to go. I started with Twitter being corporate i.e. @cogentis – because it was used at conferences E.g. at SMX or conferences I spoke at, Cogentis had a profile – and it was shorter – and I used my name for Facebook. I actually have both in Twitter – but I just use @Cogentis I find it incredibly annoying when people have a corporate twitter account,and a personal one, and post identical tweets from both accounts. I suppose as founder of Cogentis, it probably doesn’t matter which account as long as you don’t post identical tweets /updates from multiple accounts.

Janina Geraghty@Mzjaygee
If I’m understanding your question right, I personally recommend to keep personal and business handles separate on Twitter. The reason being that the “voice” of your business is not always going to be yours. It could be a number of contributing staff who in unison, create the voice and personality of the account. If you create a personal following under the name of a brand, there is also the question of who owns the account. Once you’ve established relationships in the twitterverse under your personal handle you will probably find that your followers will after a while connect you to your business account and follow both.

Susan Payton@EggMarketing
At the time, I wanted to brand my company, not me as a person. Inadvertently, I’ve branded myself through my writing. But I probably wouldn’t swap to a real name in the future, since I’ve built my brand up arund @eggmarketing.

Frank Watson @Aussiewebmaster
I use Aussiwebmaster as am more know by that name – at early conferences people would see Frank Watson on my pass with a speaker tag and ask what session and when they heard the accent asked are you Aussiewebmaster. On Twitter your real name shows too so using brand is okay and people get used to brands on social media, I had Aussie Webmaster on Facebook way back but they cancelled it and had to reach out to get them to just change the name.

Thomas Bosilevac@Bosilytics
You always want a global message coming from a brand, however, it is also important for larger brands to create a “human voice” (eg: Customer Support Staff, individual baristas, southwest baggers, best buy employees). In this case the name provides a real person behind the brand. Insight on company use of social via Stephanie Shkolnik @Stephanie00

Ann Smarty @SeoSmarty
In my situation, that all happened by itself. I am from Russia, so when starting a blog I was afraid people would find it hard to spell and pronounce my real second name. Besides, it’s too long for social media accounts. So I decided to create a pen name. It all started with the domain name. Finding a catchy short domain name with “seo” in it wasn’t easy 5 years ago (as well as now). SEOsmarty was the one that was still available. So I picked it. Then I took its second part and added it to my first name: Ann + SEOsmarty = Ann Smarty

It turned out to be very catchy. People remember me by my second name. So no, I will never drop it :)

Christy Correll @Denverish
Instead of using my real name, I chose the handle “denverish” when I joined Twitter for two reasons:

  1. It matched the name of a personal blog I started about the same time. I had just relocated to Colorado, and was in the honeymoon stage. Just fell in love with the place, including the capital city I live in! Almost five years later, it’s hard for me to picture living anywhere else. If I move, though, I’m going to have to make a tough decision about whether or not to change handles. I’ve laid claim to Twitter.com/ChristyCorrell “just in case” this ever happens.
  2. Most of my friends and coworkers who tweeted used handles back then, and @denverish uses fewer characters than ChristyCorrell for sure. It’s also easier to remember than my “real” name. For a time, when I tweeted constantly, a few of my fellow Tweetaholics routinely referred to me as Denverish offline. They weren’t teasing me, they had just grown to know me by my handle. You might say we were a tad bit obsessed. Just a little.

Todd Friesen @Oilman
Why Oilman? I was working for a large oil and gas company over 10 years ago and I thought I was being clever with the name.

Over the past decade it became my personal brand online and changing it simply makes no sense after all these years.

Dave Earley @EarleyEdition
I chose my Twitter handle @earleyedition as a branding thing in 2008 because it was the same as my blog, the earley edition, which had been around since 2004. At the time it wasn’t a conscious decision not to use my real name, it just seemed to make sense to continue with the name, or brand, that was already being used. I’d definitely be willing to swap to a real name. I’ve also gone through the brand/personal decision with Facebook when personal profile vanity URLs were introduced. In the end I went with my real name instead of earleyedition because Facebook was more about personal than public activity.

Since then personal profile changes like Subscribe mean you can use it for personal OR branding, depending on what you want public. If that had been a feature at the time, it probably would have been an argument for using using earleyedition on Facebook too. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point I did set up my real name Twitter handles, just to park them for possible future use.

David Olsen @DDSD
“I initially went with @DDsD on Twitter as all the decent variations on my actual name were already taken and I didn’t feel like being @DavidOlsen1224532 – besides I was already quite a prolific forum poster under the DDsD handle on a few online forums so it made sense to continue using it in the psuedo-anonymous space of Twtter”.  In addition, during the early days of Twitter (Before “native” retweets) the length of your Twitter username impacted on retweetability with long tweets, so @DDsD had additional advantages compared to my full name too. Now that I’ve sucessfully managed to secure URL variants for my actual name for Facebook and Linkedin, I’d certainly consider migrating the @DDsD ‘brand’ to an account fo my own name, but on Twitter, it’s not as critical as it is with other services.

Melanie Roe @MissMel
I can’t understand why anyone would use a boring real name when they can create their own alter ego!

Scott Stratten@UNMarketing
I used unmarketing cause it was shorter than scottstratten and the name got people curious.

Wayne Smallman@Octane
Octane is — if you’ve not already figured it out — the name of my company, which I started in 1999. As a brand name, it’s been the cause of some consternation with several other businesses who would just love to get their hands on it, but lost out. I often get messages sent to me by people who think that I’m a coffee shop franchise in Atlanta, America, which is apparently literally called @octane. I do have an account for myself personally, but I had (and continue to have) no intention of using @waynesmallman for businesses purposes, and instead use it for my literary endeavours, which are — incidentally — published by Octane Interactive Limited.

Deborah Carney@Loxly
Every brand should have it’s own twitter account. Every website should have it’s own twitter account. Splitting personal and professional identities is key to using Twitter to it’s fullest potential.

Gail Gardner – @GrowMap
Brands are far more unique and easier to spell than names. Logos are more memorable and easy to pick out even in a sea of tiny Twitter Avatars. When Donna Fontenot went by @DazzlinDonna I ALWAYS instantly remembered her. When she changed to using her name I had to look her up in my notes or contact manager under Dazzlin Donna to find out here new Twitter handle and how to spell it.

Everyone knows Kristi Hines as @Kikolani. She later wished you used her real name and switched to @KristiHines but I know I always think of @Kikolani first and then Kristi even though I’ve known her online personally for years. She is fortunate that Kristi Hines is not a super common name. There are far too many Gail Gardners online (119 results on LinkedIn; 74 on Skype) for anyone to find me that way. There is only ONE GrowMap!

Dan Petrovic @DejanSEO
I didn’t think about it too much. DejanSEO was initially registered to secure our brand name on Twitter. I used it as my own for a while and then decided I’d have my personal account. After a few weeks I realised I would never actually find time to juggle between the two and decided to stick to one and focus my efforts on developing one healthy Twitter account. So you can say that it all happened organically and without much planning. Now that it’s all got momentum I have no plans on changing anything. Go with the flow.

Brad Geddes – @bgtheory
If @bradgeddes were open, I might consider it strongly, but as @bradg isn’t my entire name, then I wouldn’t take it. My social goals are either to share & converse as myself, or build a brand. A brand can be personal or a business (@bgtheory @ck_org)

Matthew Ho@inspiredworlds
Unless you have a very famous public profile and name, a twitter handle that is a unique name is more memorable. On the Internet, handles are very common and it provides a sense of online anonymity. Try to keep the same handle across the internet for consistency and personal branding. Would I ever change back? Probably not. There was another person at my high school with the same name. When I went to work at a large international organisation, I had several colleagues with the same name and I used to get their emails. But there’s only one @inspiredworlds!

Jeff Selig@SEOSEM
In the early days of social networks, Friendfeed, Plurk, Plaxo, Pulse, keywords in the user profiles were getting picked up in the SERP’s. This was evident based on the user profiles and the names of the users profiles specifically around brand terms but also around industry terms, think Acne, Mortgage etc….. With these results in mind, I quickly sought out opportunities to create user profiles around high value and easily recognizable industry terms. Although I have Twitter.com/JeffSelig as a place holder to safe guard my name for reputation management purposes and was first mover to lock in the usage of the name, in the personal branding space the decision to go with industry terms SEO/SEM, I believe helped establish some level of credibility in the twittersphere.

So What Do You Think?

You have read the reason behind several well known industry marketers still use the a brand or nickname for their Twitter profiles, have you seen any other examples of people swapping from a @realname to a @brand handle? Also you will see that even though a majority of them Tweet as a brand they show their real name on the account and most feature a real photo of themselves which makes it feel more personal. What do you do for your social branding?