For so many of us millennials we’ve grown up with social media as a part of our everyday lives and as a digital marketing person, I was always one to jump on and secure a spot on the latest social media channel as soon as one launched. I (like so many others) didn’t know where I would be in my career when I first signed up or whether I would be using my social media channels in a professional capacity or a personal one, so I simply chose a handle that I knew no one else would have not giving a great deal of thought to whether it would suit me down the track. After all it’s not like I could have gazed into my crystal ball to see where I would be in 5 years and even if I had – I doubt I could have envisioned being where I am today.
So the question becomes: what do you do when you grow up and out of your old handle?
It can be a little daunting to think about changing your social media handles when your followers have come to know you under your old handle. So why change it? Here are some of the reasons I decided to rebrand my social media channels (and why it’s OK for you to rebrand too)!
For me now a digital marketing consultant and social media person, my social media channels have very much become an extension of my personal brand. My old handle @7cookka while unique didn’t include my name or provide any indication around what I did for a living. I wanted people to “at a glance” see who I am and what I am about.
I initially chose my old handle name “@7cookka” because in high school, it was the username I was given to login to our computers with. Since there were hundreds of students, the school gave us really unique usernames so there wouldn’t be any double ups. “7cookka” = the year I would graduate (2007) followed by the first 4 letters of our last name and first 2 letters of our first name. At the time I thought “cookka” was pretty catchy and well, I’m sure we all know how difficult it can be to find a unique username that isn’t already taken. Plus, I hadn’t even started Uni yet, I definitely didn’t know I would be a digital marketer down the track!
Fast forward to now and while there are many people in my industry who have come to know me as “7cookka” however I realised that to people who hadn’t yet met me, it sort of looked a little “spammy”. I found it a little harder to cut through in Twitter chats and people on Periscope would always ask me to introduce myself so they could address me by my name.
I decided to change my handle. I wanted my name but of course being “Kate Cook” (and unfortunately I’m not the only Kate Cook in the world) that alone was already taken. I opted for “@KateCookDigital” which now tells the world who I am and what I’m about in three little words.
In the same way that “@7cookka” looked a little spammy to me, while it certainly was unique it wasn’t very memorable. In addition, the “double K” meant that people would often misspell it and I would miss out on key mentions! Definitely don’t want that. “@KateCookDigital” is simple and easy to remember – and much easier to spell.
Overall I felt as though I wanted my handle to reflect my brand as a freelance digital marketing consultant. That being said there are a number of things to consider when it comes time to make the switch.
1. Do Your Research:
This is definitely one you want to sleep on. I would recommend waiting a few days after you’ve decided on what you want to change your handle to. This isn’t a decision to be made in a rush as this is a key change that we want our followers to notice. Changing things up too much will confuse your followers and could even be damaging to your personal brand so make sure you’re happy before making the switcheroo.
Be sure to check that your new handle is available across all channels. I would recommend securing it across all of the social media channels even if you’re not very active on that channel – you never know if your social media strategy will change in the future.
Facebook Vanity URL or Page URL, Twitter Handle, Instagram Handle, Snapchat Username, Pinterest, Google Plus, YouTube, Tumblr (refer to checklist for details on each channel).
2. Make Sure There Are No Broken Links
Think about where you have linked through to your profiles (your blog or website, other social media channels, email signature, even your business cards) and make sure you change everything to link through to your new handle. Broken links are the worst!
3. Shout it out!
A hugely important one. It’s one thing to make the change but we need to tell the people who already follow you about your new handle!
Another tip would be to keep the same profile picture and cover art for some time. If you want to change it as part of your rebrand, change it a couple of weeks before you change your handle. With a new handle you want the people who you’ve been interacting with to still know it’s you and keeping the same profile picture and cover art can be a simple and effective way to remind people you’re still you, just with a new and improved handle
— Kate Cook (@KateCookDigital) November 14, 2015
4. Keep Reminding People
When it comes to making a key change like this, it’s important to post about it more than once. Especially on real-time channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr what you posted could have been missed by many the first time. Definitely feel free to follow up with some friendly reminders on Social Media and even in your newsletter if you have one.
Thinking of rebranding yourself? Download your free checklist below!
Note that not all channels make it easy to change over your handle (unfortunately) but the details of this are included in the checklist.
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