Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

How to avoid making this common mistake on Twitter

Twitter account names, or handles, can be powerful networking tools when used well. We all like to get noticed, so Twitter users listen out for when their name is mentioned by others.

The classic example of mentioning others on Twitter is the #FollowFriday approach:

“I recommend @regencyhistory for her incredibly well-researched history articles #FollowFriday.”

Using account names helps you get noticed by the person or organisation you’re tweeting about and could result in extra follows or a retweet or two. Well-timed and well-worded mentions of others can be extremely effective.

They’re also a great way of showing support for others. As businesses widen their embrace of Twitter, mentions can also be an effective way of getting noticed when you have a question or a complaint.

Getting the name right in your tweets

But in the same way that using a name well can boost your visibility on Twitter, using the wrong name can be ineffective, if not embarrassing.

Here’s a tweet I saw recently: “Wishing the very best to @bluemile and all taking part today.” 

The message was intended to support a fundraising event. However, the Twitter account @bluemile belongs to someone from Seoul, Korea, who rarely tweets and has very few followers. I doubt very much that was the person they meant to refer to.

This is just the most recent example I’ve seen where someone has assumed they are using the correct Twitter name, without carrying out a simple check on the account they are mentioning.

It’s an easy mistake to make. In my training classes, people often want to write a tweet mentioning my Twitter name, and to find it they type ‘Andrew Knowles’ into the search box on Twitter. Because there are hundreds of Twitter users sharing my name, they’re sometimes not quite sure which one is mine (although the profile picture is a clue).

What is worse is to assume that my account is @andrewknowles - an account that has only ever sent two tweets and they were back in 2010! 

Twitter names, including my own, are not always based on people’s names – mine is @andrew_writer and not any of the variations on Andrew Knowles.

If you’re going to take advantage of the networking power of Twitter and frequently refer to the names of other users, take that extra moment to get it right. Your followers may click on the names you’ve shared and if you haven’t checked them out, there’s no telling where that could lead them to.

If you’re not sure what Twitter handle someone uses, don’t assume that the one you’ve chosen is right just because Twitter tells you that particular account exists. Invest those extra few seconds to ensure it really is the correct name, because by doing so you’ll protect your credibility and save yourself the potential embarrassment of being told that you got it wrong.


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