The Anatomy of a Twitter Handle – Eight Common Styles

Alan Belniakguidelines, Social Media3 Comments

Picking a sensible Twitter handle might help

Picking a sensible Twitter handle might help

What’s in a name?  Quite a bit. Especially when it’s the written word. Seeing a name for the first time is the modern-day first impression. When I get a new follower on Twitter, I go through a quick process to determine whether not I follow back.  And part of that process is looking at your Twitter ‘handle’ (or ID or name). It’s an implicit (or explicit) signal about who you are. Below, I breakdown eight common styles of Twitter IDs, from best to worst. This is all my opinion, of course (and isn’t everything on my blog?). Your mileage may vary.


The Good

  • FirstNameLastName – Probably one of the best Twitter handle styles you could have, barring your name isn’t fifteen characters long (the twitter max), or some hard-to-type odd combination. A good example of this is chrisbrogan. The URL to his site is the same as his Twitter handle. Boom. Another example is ScottMonty.


  • FirstInitalLastName – Another approach to take that scores well from a readability and rememberability (yes, I know its not a word) perspective. This is the approach I use (abelniak) as well as my friend Joe Chernov (jchernov). For him, it’s also the same URL for Joe’s site.


  • FirstInitialMiddleInitialLastName – Another great approach for the “short and sweet rememberability”. Two hallmarks here are David Meerman Soctt (DMScott) and Christopher S. Penn (CSPenn). In fact, Chris Penn taught me the idea of buying another URL (in this case, and re-directing it to his website. Since I use abelniak as my Twitter handle, I bought and have that re-directing back to my site.


  • YourCompanyName (or YourBrandName) – This is fairly obvious for larger corporations. My focus here is more f you are a one-man-band or a small company. A good example is Brian Clark (copyblogger). Copyblogger *is what Brain does*, so he makes a nice positive brand association here.


 The Not-So-Good 

  • Some Take-off Of A Current Event – You like Tom Brady? You like Tom Brady so much that your Twitter ID is TomBradyQBChamp ? What happens when the Pats don’t win the Superbowl again? Better stick with something that stands the test of time, chief.


  • Some Non-obvious Mix of Letters and Numbers – It might be great to you that you got married in 1998 or have a birthday in February… But if your Twitter handle is something like JoeCool4167, that letter combination is important and rememerable to you – but likely not others. So if I’m pecking out a Tweet on my mobile phone, and want to @ or tag you, and I can’t remember if it’s 4167 or 4176 or…. Ah, forget it….


  • Some Intermixed Combination of Letters and Numbers – It’s cool that you use the numeral ‘0’ for the letter ‘O’. Or a ‘1’ for an ‘L’. But that makes it that much harder to remember and type… as well as look at.


  • Some Combination of Letters That Doesn’t Resemble a Word – Is it a keyboard puke? Did you just slam your hands down on the keyboard and go with whatever came out? That’s even harder to remember than the previous two Twitter handle types I describe. Your combination might even be a word in your native language or a code of some sort. But if your primary audience doesn’t speak that/know that, you’re not really connecting.



What about you, reader? Care to share a really good or clever Twitter handle?

(let’s keep the not-so-good out of the comments here – notice I didn’t use any specific examples here – that’s by design)


image source:


If you like what you’re reading here, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or signing up via e-mail (upper right corner) to be alerted when more new posts are added.