Best practices for managing and choosing your social media profile name is not discussed but should be. Your name, is of course, your ultimate personal brand. Gone are the days of cute but anonymous profile names. In the age of authenticity and network building, people find you by keywords, real names and your email. Managing your online reputation can be best done if your profile name is claimed across all the social media channels you intend to use now or in the future. Finding the right tools to help you manage all these social sites is the next challenge and solved by a social business application like Xeesm.
What’s in a name
Consider first your reasons and goals for being on social media sites. Just as a business should answer the question of ‘Why’, you should also define your goals and objectives for any particular site. Whether you are managing your online reputation, a budding entrepreneur, connecting with alumni friends, looking for a job, changing careers, or looking for venture capital be clear about what you are doing here to define what you need to accomplish.
- LinkedIn – A place for you to find people you know – use your full name, maiden name and middle initials. Don’t use a nickname, your company or product brand name when you customize the URL.
- Facebook – A place for you to find people you used to know – use your full name, maiden name or nickname most commonly used in the past. Facebook lets you customize the URL for your profile. With over 400M users on Facebook, don’t wait to see if your name is available for your personal profile and your business page if you have one.
- Twitter – A place for you to find people you want to know – With some character limitations in Twitter for the displayed profile name its important for you to enter the data in several ways. Use your full name on the account and abbreviate your name only if you have to for the username. You can always setup another account with the clever username as a second profile.
- Slideshare – A place to share your expertise in a visual presentation format
- Youtube – A place for you to share video and the third largest search engine.
Steps to take
You should first make a list of the different variations of your name that are acceptable. If you have a more common name, your middle initial is a must. Use nicknames only if you are also known in business by that name. My brother is a third generation Donald with his son also called Donald (IV). He has been know by the name “Skip” since he was 3 years old. I don’t even think his business associates even know his real name. In that case he would use his nick name incorporated into his profile.
There are several sites that can save you some time to find out if your name is available across several social sites at one time. Knowem and Namechk are two of the more popular ones. Both are continually adding new social sites. Knowem has monetized the service nicely by adding the paid feature of creating your profiles on any selected sites for you. They even have an ongoing service
Claim your name
If you have an understanding of your goals and have created a strategy about your activity you should know the type of social media sites that will best serve you. You can choose to signup for those sites one at a time or claim them all at one time (its just time and money after all). Just as we would recommend using the same profile picture across all your social profiles, especially if you are new to social media, use the same profile name across all your sites if you can.
As a business owner, author or even a celebrity, its important to reserve your name. There is some squatting going on for user names, so don’t regret waiting around to claim your name.
Customizing your profile URL
If you haven’t done it yet, several of the top social sites provide ways to customize your personal profile. If you are on Facebook go to www.facebook.com/username. If you can’t get your first choice it will suggest other variations for you. If you are building a business page on Facebook, you can’t actually name your page with a custom URL until you have 25 or more people following your page (or liking as the terms go these days).
Twitter does let you change your profile name in midstream from the settings page of your profile, but you will have to let your followers know about it so they can find you in a search. One of the key points in Twitter is to make sure your name in the account settings is your full name, and then if you have to shorten it for the username, its possible to find you under either variation.
LinkedIn is the one place to customize your profile URL to your complete name. Although you can change it, you do want to promote your LinkedIn profile link, and making changes just doesn’t help your presence. You can edit the URL under Edit My Profile tab and click on the edit link beside the URL link in the boxed profile section of your profile. Remember no spaces or hypens as the characters are limited.
I have found that on Youtube and Slideshare that I have taken a slightly different approach. On Slideshare, a social site for sharing presentations and documents, I have classified my account name under my business name (Wendy Soucie Consulting) as opposed to my personal name, even though my personal name is the actual URL Slideshare.net/wsoucie. On Youtube I have created a Business channel under Youtube/wendysoucie and then created a separate personal video channel for miscellaneous videos that don’t fit with my business focus directly but which I still want to share.
Solving the problem of changing names
One tool that I have used to minimize the problem of managing social media site links is Xeesm.com. It has a free social address link page and it lets me add as many links here as I need while only using one link on my emails or my business card. This is one site that you definitely need to create with your fixed name as you can’t change it later.
Take your time before you decide, but the default will be the name you enter into the first name and last name fields. If there are multiple users with similar names, but default it will auto generate numbers to add to the end. I don’t think this looks professional at all – so before you save it, try to find another acceptable combination with your middle initial etc.
Your name is your personal brand. Don’t let someone else be the first to abscond with your identity. Consider your strategy, your goals, check what’s available, claim it and then manage it with Xeesm.
Did you get your name?
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