I was inspired to write this post by my friend Debi and the brand new Twitter account she created. Debi is the Director of Marketing at CrownAir Aviation, an aircraft maintenance company out of California and when she learned about Twitter, she thought it would be a great new social networking tool for her company so she started using the @crownair username.
When I saw that, I couldn’t help sending her an email explaining why she’d rather go with @debicarlston. She heard me and changed her username right away. Now here is a more developed version of what I told Debi and why I think using your real name on Twitter establishes you as a social personality that is connected and approachable.
1. You will attract more followers
Using a company name or brand as a username is probably the biggest mistake people do (I did it too when I started on Twitter) but the fact is that people will most likely follow a person rather than a brand.
Which one would you follow: @billgates or @microsoft? Yes, you’d rather find out what’s inside Bill Gates’ head rather than receive special offers about Windows Vista. Your potential followers are the same. They don’t care what you sell, they want to reach you on a personal level. They want to know more about what YOU think, not what you’re trying to sell.
2. You will establish yourself as a professional
Whatever you talk about on Twitter, using your real name will differentiate yourself and establish you as a professional in your field. As I told Debi, in the real life, she is not Director Of Marketing for CrownAir; she is a sharp business woman who happens to do marketing at an aviation company. In the same way, I am not iPhone Download Blog (my iPhone blog), I am Sebastien Page, a guy who knows a lot about the iPhone.
Note that this point is not valid if all you do on Twitter is sending useless tweets such as “going grocery shopping”. Nobody cares about that. Keep this for your MySpace status update ;)
Establishing yourself as a social and knowledgeable persona will get you more attention, raise interest in who you are and what you do, ultimately helping your business if that’s what you’re looking for. As an example, I received several advertising requests for my iPhone blog from tweets that I sent out, even though I never looked for advertisers directly. These people saw that I knew a lot about the iPhone, they went to my iPhone blog, noticed that I got quite a bit of traffic there, and ended up asking me how much I would charge them for banner ads.
3. You will be able to keep this username when you leave your company
Imagine for a second that you are the marketing guy for a music magazine. For the last 2 years you’ve been using the @xyzmusicmag username, attracting over 3,000 followers. Now imagine that your boss tells you that you are being laid off (or let’s say that you quit, if that can make you feel better).
What would happen to your Twitter username? You have 2 options: First option: you can just leave it to your company. You will lose all your followers and you will have to start on Twitter from scratch. Second option: you can sneakily change your username (Twitter is very flexible on this) to @yourrealname, taking the risk of being sued by your employer for doing that, which would be its own right.
You will never have this dilemma if you choose to use your real name on Twitter as soon as you create your account.
As you can see, there are big benefits in using your real name on Twitter. All this can be summed up in 2 words: personal branding. This in itself could be the topic of another blog post…