I changed my Twitter handle last month. The net impact on my social media has been zero.
No followers lost, no awkward broken links, no drop in my Klout score.
Changing your Twitter handle used to mean that you killed one profile and started another. Now, with just a few simple steps, you can change your twitter username without murdering your avatar and starting a new one from scratch.
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— Caelan Huntress (@caelanmac) June 12, 2013
Why I Changed My Twitter Handle
I changed it back to my very first Twitter handle, @caelanmac. After I had been on Twitter a while, I changed it to my full name, @caelanhuntress, so people would be able to better identify me online.
Then Twitter started putting first and last names of the user in big, bold text, while the twitter handle itself is now a smaller (and lighter) font.
Having my full name was not only redundant, it was also longer than necessary.
Why a Shorter Twitter Username is Better
Reducing my handle by 5 characters has a virality benefit: it increases the length that allows for an unedited retweet.
Formula: 140 – (username length) – 5 (for RT_@:) = longest tweet length.
For me, this is now 126 characters. Anytime I make a tweet that is 126 characters or less, anyone else can ‘RT @caelanmac: ‘ without making any edits to the tweet.
If I made a 130 character tweet, anyone who wanted to retweet it would be over the 140 character limit. The user would have to manually either edit my tweet, or (more likely) just not do it.
Test it yourself
In the tweet above is a retweet button (second icon from the lower right). Hit this button, and (assuming you are signed into Twitter) you will see a tweet box pop up. Notice the character count – 19 left to spare!
How to Change your Twitter Handle in 4 Steps
1. Change your Twitter username in profile settings
They will let you know instantly if the handle you want is available.
2. Create a new account with your old username
This protects any links to your old username that may be floating around the web.
If people go to twitter.com/caelanhuntress this is what they see:
3. Update your website links
In the sidebar or footer of your website, you’ve probably got links to your old twitter profile. Thee all need to be updated.
I’ve talked before about how using about.me as your social outpost is a big time saver. This illustrates how good it works: on most of my websites, I have an about.me widget that shows all my social profiles in the sidebar. When I updated about.me, all of my sidebars updated with it.
4. Reauthorize Twitter OAuth signin services
Klout, Buffer, Disqus, and any service that lets you use Twitter to sign in has to be reauthorized. I just went to every platform I could think of, signed out and signed back in. None of them thought I was a different user, and they all display my new twitter handle instead of the old.
Total time to change my twitter username: 54 minutes
If you’ve been tweeting for a while, you are not bound to keep your twitter handle forever. You can change your twitter username without losing your followers, your reputation, or your tweeting history.
I found ONE stray place I had to update: Gravatar. Don’t forget to go to http://www.gravatar.com and reauthorize your new Twitter account!