Hey brands, don’t delete your Twitter account when rebranding!
Even though your company or organization can very quickly change its Twitter username (aka handle or ID), that doesn’t mean you should change it on your next branding campaign without some forethought. (I’ve personally encountered old dangling usernames more than a dozen times! #gasp)
Yes, of course, when you change your Twitter username you would keep all your Twitter followers (in contrast to creating a new username and inviting people to follow the new account); and yes, you’d want to announce your Twitter username change, but have you thought about what happens to your old username?
When considering a rebranding or change of username on Twitter, realize that you will want to also prevent your old username being hijacked by malicious squatters and bad actors. Your Twitter followers already have some memory and recognition for your old username, and if an imposter came in after you to take your old username, those bad guys can tweet damaging things that hurt your brand and reputation.
For an important brand like yours, risk mitigation is part of managing your web & social presence — deleting a Twitter username that’s no longer in use comes with potentially high risk! Here’s the thing (via Brand Death: 6 Reasons Not To Delete Twitter Accounts):
Deleting a Twitter account returns its username to the pool available for re-registration by anyone, just like in domain name land. Before doing so, consider leaving your account in place to protect its integrity, or examine whether possible acquirers value your username highly.
For the good of the cause, I’d suggest it’s better to keep the old Twitter username under corporate control and made dormant — with messaging in the bio and timeline crafted accordingly, to point people to your new Twitter username, rather than merely deleting it and leaving an old username vulnerable for misuse. And, your older Twitter conversations will not error out with: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”
Here’s the step-by-step instructions for making the twitter username change most wisely:
- Login to your Twitter account and change your Twitter username
- Logout of Twitter
- Go to Twitter.com
- Create a new Twitter account with your old username, using a new email address [each Twitter account requires a unique email address]
- Tweet from the old username something like “I changed names; follow me @NewName instead” and leave it as a dormant account [best avatar I’ve found to indicate a Twitter username gone dark below]
By the way, if your organization has a trademarked name and there’s someone else using that username on Twitter, you can notify Twitter to either make that account inactive or to takeover that account.