One of the fantastic consequences of our socially connected world is that we can connect to people, clients and prospects around the world 24/7. But how does this relate to your brand, from a first impression perspective? Think about it: when you meet someone face-to-face, your first impression includes their clothes, neatness, appearance, handshake, etc. However, when meeting online, the dynamics of the first impression change. We meet people online by communicating across different platforms, and what’s one of the first, if not the first, things you become aware of when you meet a new person online? Their username, not their legal given name, but their profile username. Hence the reason why your social media username is critical as you define your brand!
When choosing your social media username for each of your social media profiles, identify your personal interests in relation to your business objectives. For example,
- LinkedIn is for building professional, business-to-business relationships, so you always use your full name. There are additional sites that share LinkedIn’s purpose of building a professional network. A good rule of thumb: when using a site generally suited for B2B, your name is pretty much a standard.
- Facebook is a no-brainer: make a company fanpage for your professional posts, and keep your personal profile for your personal interests. Just be sure to use your company as your employer on your personal profile so your friends can see the connection.
- Twitter, StumbleUpon, Flickr and similar sites can be a bit trickier because they can serve multiple purposes. Which brings me to the next suggestion.
My suggestion for the sites that are more multi-purpose: know your personality and purpose. For example, if you need to engage on a professional level, but you know you’ll be likely to tweet personal rants or talk about questionable/controversial subjects, make 2 separate Twitter accounts. One for personal use only, and use whatever name you like, it doesn’t have to be your actual name. Then set up a Twitter profile as your company. You can use your company logo for this one if you like. This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s worth it if it fits your personality. Many of us get by with one Twitter account, but consider your personality, attitude and lifestyle and figure out what works best for you. Some people manage three twitter accounts for their personal interests and different business ventures. And they do this effectively – I happen to know and follow some of them.
Do you like using online photo buckets? The same principle applies; your personal photos don’t necessarily need to be mixed in with your business photos. What to do? One option is to have 2 separate accounts on sites like Flickr, Picasa, etc. Another option would be to simply use one site for business, and another for personal, and have the usernames match accordingly. This way you maintain control over the images associated with your brand.
Your username is the name associated with your social media voice. Whether your username is your company name, personal name or a nickname, choose it carefully. Your moniker will ultimately become a part of your brand.