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So you’re thinking of hopping aboard the Twitter train. Or maybe you’ve already been onboard the Twitter wagon but you’re considering a little re-branding. Your Twitter handle serves as you virtual—and social—identity while you use the Twitter-sphere, so you need to make it a good one. There are dozens of do’s, don’ts and strategies for choosing a Twitter handle that will stand out from the pack. Here’s a look at a few tactics for creating a rockstar Twitter handle.

Do: Include Industry Buzzwords

Back in the early days of Twitter, it was possible to snatch up a nice, generic buzzword relevant to your industry that would make tons of followers flock to worship you. Not so much anymore, as the majority of those appealing buzzwords are already accounted for.

Now, you have to get a little more creative with your Twitter handle. Buzzwords are still do-able, but you’ve gotta think a bit outside the box. Try using a combination of relevant terms, a combo of your company name or your personal name and a buzzword (SEOJohn, perhaps?).

Don’t: Use Random Pet Names

Few things are worse than Twitter users trying to maintain professionalism under a name by the likes of “TigerBob” or “KittyVixen.” Keep those personal monikers to yourself for non-business use. Even if you can’t come up with a way to include a buzzword, please avoid animal names and such. Unless, of course, you’re an animal-focused company.

Do: Keep It Short

Remember, you only have 140 characters to get your message across. If your handle is 20 characters long, you’ve just shorted yourself. Not to mention, longer handles are generally harder for people to guess in the event they’re trying to look you up from a different device or application than what they usually use to find your latest valuable Tweets in faster time. Longer handles also make it more difficult for other users to re-Tweet your updates without cutting off important stuff, such as hyperlinks.

Don’t: Use Random Numbers

Say you found a great industry term that would make a standout Twitter handle—but it’s already taken. What can you do? You could add a few random numbers at the end to make it different. But don’t. Why? Because people will get confused and start identifying you with the original handle-holder—and clearly that’s not a good way to stand out from the crowd.

Do: Use Valuable Keywords

Your Twitter handle does have an impact on SEO, so think in terms of your most valuable keywords if buzzwords, name and business name combinations aren’t working out for you. If you accumulate a lot of followers, and you’re getting tons of re-Tweets, a valuable keyword is more likely to show up in the SERPs—meaning more exposure for you.

Don’t: Use Underscores

Underscores are hard to see in a Twitter handle and—let’s face it—kind of a pain to type in on a keyboard if someone wants to look you up directly. Like numbers, an underscore gives the impression that your first choice was taken so you added some randomness to make it unique. Only use an underscore or numbers in your Twitter handle if it’s somehow relevant to your business.

Do: Opt for Your First and Last Name

If all else fails, your first and last name can serve as a unique Twitter handle (that is, unless your name is John Smith). It may not be industry relevant, but consultants and other single-handed business entities can often gain brand recognition for their personal names as well as their formal business names. So it’s worth a shot if you’re on your last ditch effort and your industry lends itself to that type of personal branding.

Do: Go a Little Edgy and Bring on the Attitude

First and last name sound a little too dull and drab for your liking, or for the ideal fit with your industry and business culture? Then veer away and live on the edge—but be careful not to step over the fine line between edgy and corny. Finally, be prepared to live up to expectations if you take things up a notch with an attitude-packed Twitter handle that gives the impression that you’re the ruler of the roost, a key influencer, the go-to thought leader…you get the idea.

Do: Opt for Continuity

As a marketer, we’re guessing—actually, we’re placing monetary bets—on the fact that you’re using multiple social platforms. So strive for some level of continuity across services. It enhances your brand recognition (and hello, who doesn’t want more brand recognition?) and makes it easier for your loyal fans and followers to find you across the web.

Yeah, we realize that you probably have all your social networks linked from your website (or you should, if you don’t already) but trust us, people want to be able to find you on their preferred social platforms quickly, without navigating around to dozens of websites just to figure out what your Twitter handle is. So make it recognizable, make it a standout, use it to your advantage for brand awareness and you’ve got it in the bag.

And finally, in the spirit of analyzing Twitter-handle creation genius within the realm of brand management importance, you can change your Twitter handle if you want. You’re not stuck with it forever. So if you opt for the edgy and you find out you went overkill, you can always tone it down a notch. But keep in mind that when you change your Twitter handle, you’ve got some work to do to generate the same level of brand recognition you worked hard to earn with your original handle. ‘Nuff said.

So tell us, Twitter fanatics: How did you come up with your handle? Did you follow a proven strategy or fly from the seat of your pants? What types of handles do you find most memorable while still maintaining a professional feel? Unload your thoughts on us in the comments.

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