April 16, 2014

I was having a lovely Saturday morning this past weekend. I had a couple things to do but was more or less free to catch up on some stuff for Jenn's Trends. After a great chat with Sue B. Zimmerman, I decided it was time to finally change my Instagram and Twitter usernames. This is something I've been thinking about doing for a while, and Sue gave me the nudge I needed to get it done.

Who knew two simple username changes could take over my entire weekend!

The reality is that changing the usernames wasn't all that hard. I've written previously about how to change your usernames if you'd like more information.

BUT, I decided to do this on the day that Instagram went down. Yeah, that was fun. I think I "changed" my username 5 times before it actually changed! So that was a fun little addition to my simple task.

I also wanted to find a username that was available on both Twitter and Instagram because I like to keep these consistent, if possible. I was able to find @jenns_trends free on both sites so I jumped on that. It seemed easy enough...

But here's what you need to be very careful of, and what I learned the hard way.

Depending on how long you've had those handles, you could have a LOT of content linking to a dead page now.

Once you change your username, the old username will go to blank page or an error message saying that this username doesn't exist. This literally happens instantaneously. Or, someone else might grab your old username/handle and then your links are now going to someone else!

Please, be very cautious about finding all the content you have linked to your social media profiles.

For example, I have my own blog. This was tedious enough! I had to go through hundreds of blog posts and correct links to both my Twitter and Instagram accounts. Do you know how many times I linked to my Instagram account? A LOT!!!!

I also had to update all of the sharing widgets and social media connections on my blog to link to the new account usernames. This didn't take too long but with multiple widgets and applications, I had to make sure I hit them all.

I also guest blog and contribute to a variety of other blogs and websites. I had to update my Twitter username on all of those sites too.

And then I also have profile information on Google+ with links to all my social media accounts so that had to be updated.

And I couldn't forget about my email signatures! Do you have links to your social media accounts in your email signature? If so, this needs to be updated too.

You also need to think about your marketing content. Do you have business cards, flyers, promotional products? If you do, and these items reference your social media sites, you might have to update these too to reflect the new usernames.

I also took the time to share this rebranding on my social media pages. I wanted my audience to know that I had made these changes so that they would recognize the new usernames. I recommend doing what you can to promote this update to your fans as well.

And so, after the brilliant idea to update my brand, and a whole weekend of editing content and links, I think my changes are complete!

If you are planning to change your social media usernames on any site, please take the time to consider the things I've mentioned here. And give yourself enough time to get it all done.

I recommend you make a list of all the places you think you have links to those usernames and accounts before you get started. This will help ensure you remember everything when the time comes.

Have you ever gone through this process? What lessons did you learn from changing your usernames?

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Hi Jen, thanks a lot for the summary, great work as usual!

    I was just considering something similar when I saw you are working on a re-branding.
    I really hoped that you write an article about your experiences and here it is 🙂
    Thanks a lot!

    However after reading your article I still have a question left:
    If I change my username on Twitter, will the change also take effect on the tweets where I was mentioned? So will the system automatically change my old username to the new one in those tweets?

    1. Thanks Richard 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this. I wish you the best of luck if you move forward with your change.
      To answer your question, no, Twitter will not convert your old mentions/notifications to the new handle. They will remain as the old handle and will not appear as a hyperlink if the account is not valid anymore. This is a downside. However, the mentions will remain in your current list of notifications for you to view.

  2. Oh man! That is what has always scared me about changing things like this. And, as you said, if you have to change your business cards, that can run into a lot of time and even money. But I am glad you were able to handle all this and get everything to where you want it to be. I am sure the stress was a pain!

    1. Thanks Kim. I was able to take care of it easily enough and I think it will be worth it. I do wish I had done it before I printed my last run of business cards, but live and learn.

  3. Wowser!! thanks so much. Im thinking about changing my user name as well on IG. I would not have thought of that one as i am such a newby/baby blogger. I want to drive traffic to my site and blog to help newbies like me.

    1. Best of luck in your process of change. I recommend doing it sooner than later.

  4. I am so glad that I picked branded usernames when I started my new page. I changed my Twitter and Facebook pages but I had only been blogging for three months at that time so it was a fairly easy switch. At this point I wouldn’t ever change my names because it would take too much work. If your a newbie, I highly suggest creating your domain/brand before you create your social media accounts. Once you have your brand figured out, then you should try to use your BRAND name on your social media accounts. I use an abbreviated version of my brand name on several of my social media accounts due to character limitations.

    1. You were very smart to do that in the beginning, Christy! And thank you for chiming in with the great advice to pick domains and usernames early. It really is worth the extra time upfront.

  5. If transitioning from one brand name to another, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep both and simply let your followers who are following the username you’re leaving know that you are moving to a new username? This way there is no loss of mentions or content, AND you can send out reminders about your move over a couple weeks/months in case some of your followers miss your initial announcement. Another added benefit of doing it this way, I would think, is filtering of non engaging followers. By which I mean, yes you will lose followers in the transition, but if you send out a Tweet/Gram once per week for 8-12 weeks about your move and they don’t take the 5 seconds to follow you @yournewusername then it’s probably for the best since they were not that into you in the first place. Does this make sense? …or am I missing something :-/

    1. That is definitely a viable plan, Justin. And many people/businesses choose to do this during a rebranding. It keeps their existing accounts active so that, like you said, they don’t lose quality mentions or links. The choice to do this depends on the brand, their goals, their audience, and the size of their social media site. It also comes down to personal preference.
      And the downside to starting from scratch with a new account is that you have to work really hard to develop the history and credibility you have on your existing site. 10,000 tweets over a number of years looks a lot more credible than a couple hundred tweets over the last few months. The same thing applies to Instagram.

  6. Great to read through these before I change my twitter username! One thing I think is smart to do is to create a “saved user” account with your old username. On this account you should link your new username in the bio for example. This will lead to people who are searching for your old user will find your new one! Genious and also you don’t have to deal with posers 😉

    1. It’s definitely a good idea to keep your “old” handle and redirect it to your new one. If you change the name on your current account, you’ll need to create a new account with the old name.

  7. Hi Jenn – If I change my instagram username, will my friends photos that they’ve tagged me in using my old username carry over to my new profile? Or will those tags in the tagged photos of me just disappear/no longer link to me?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Lauren! If you change your username on Instagram, any tags or photos tagged with you will update automatically to the new username so you won’t lose those tagged photos. However, any direct mentions of your old username (in comments) will not update/change to the new username.

Comments are closed.

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