What’s in a Name: Before You Begin Tweeting

What's in a Name: Before You Begin Tweeting

What’s in a Name: Before You Begin Tweeting

Choose a Name

If you’re tweeting for a business, your Twitter name should reflect your business’ identity. If your brand is already well-known, you may not need to name the type of business you’re in. For instance, @WellsFargo does not include the word “bank,” since most are familiar with this business. By the way, you might like to read my post about rebranding for startups.

Shorter is Better

On Twitter, you only have 140 characters—the length of a text message—for a tweet, so if your name takes up 20 characters, that only leaves you with 120 characters. So while a name like, say, @PotatoShapedLikeTheStateofFlorida, is funny, it will use up a lot of your real estate on each and every tweet. You might want a long name (especially if you’re running low on potato jokes or your potato jokes tend to be short), but most people tend to run out of space first. It’s just something to keep in mind. Some say that 110 characters is even better, since there’s more room for retweeting.

Keep Your Twitter Name Professional

Keep Your Twitter Name Professional

Keep it Professional

While @PlumbersofDoom is a great and funny name, do you want your followers on Twitter to associate you with doom? Maybe not. But if your username isn’t available, consider adding a location, or maybe an abbreviation of the location. For example, @PlumberPhx could work for a plumber located in Phoenix, Arizona. Or maybe you have a specialty, such as repiping, that you could incorporate. @RepipeSunnyvale could be such a name.

Use an Underline

Keep in mind that you might be able to use an underline or two between your first and last name, or even an underline after your name, if you really love a particular name. So if @PlumberPhx isn’t available, check to see if @Plumber_Phx or @PlumberPhx_ are available.

Names to Avoid

Avoid using names that make you sound like a porn star (unless you are a porn star). For example, @LoveBunnyXXX might not get you the kind of followers you really want. A name that makes you sound like a spammer or a bot* should also be avoided. For example, names like @SpamBotfly @AllSPAMALLTHETIME might also not be the best for your business. Here are some ways to identify spammers, by the way.

Get Real

Make sure that what you tweet about matches your name. So if your name is @PlumberLax, but all you tweet about is cookies, consider changing your name to @CookiesLax, or at least adding a few words about your love of cookies to your profile—or maybe creating a second account to write about your passion for Snickerdoodles.
Twitter Has Changed Since 2012

Twitter Has Changed Since 2012


What If I Can’t Come up With a Name?

If you really can’t think of a name, bribe some of your friends with beer and chips and have a naming party! Sometimes all that’s needed to develop a good name is to get started brainstorming. The worst-case scenario is you’ll think of 100 things NOT to name your business.
Note: You can easily change your name later with Twitter (unlike on Facebook).
Bottom Line? Take a little time to make sure that your name reflects you or your business.


Twitter Has Changed

This post was first published in 2012. Twitter has changed over the years. Here’s a great article, Finding a Better Twitter Experience in 2015. How have you changed how you use Twitter? Does your name still suit you?

Twitter: Best Practices

Twitter Best Practices

Twitter Best Practices

You’ve heard so much about Twitter and how to tweet, schedule, run tweetchats, etc. You may be running your own account, or managing one for someone else. What best practices still apply? Here are some things I’ve learned over about six years.

Talk to People

I’m tired of saying to engage, so will say it another way: talk to people. Chat with them, thank them, tell them stuff, retweet their pictures, read their articles and blogs, laugh at their jokes. You know–much like you would in real life! As Derek Silvers says in his video there’s A Real Person A Lot Like You on the other side of that computer. Hat tip to bestie Bridget Willard (@YouTooCanBeGuru) for that video.

Subscribe to Toyota Equipment's Lists on Twitter

Subscribe to Toyota Equipment’s Lists on Twitter

Use Lists

Lists are the great underutilized tool of Twitter. Here’s my post about lists for the power user if you’d like to read it. And if you want to see an example of someone who really uses lists, check out Toyota Equipment’s (@ToyotaEquipment) lists. While you’re there, follow them and subscribe to a few lists. You won’t be sorry.

Discover the Discovery Tab

If you click on the Discovery tab, while you’re on Twitter, you’ll see a mix of popular tweets and tweets from those you know and like. It’s an easy way to find content to retweet, see what’s trending among friends, and catch up quickly.

The Hashtag Can Sarcastically Undercut Your Own Tweet

The Hashtag Can Sarcastically Undercut Your Own Tweet

Employ Hashtags

A hashtag helps you organize your tweets, find others’ tweets, have a decent tweetchat, and mock your own tweet. It has even evolved into something else, as this fab article from the New York Times, In Praise of the Hashtag, points out.

Retweet with an Image

If you want to be a super resource, tweet someone else’s link, but add an image! This super charges their tweet, and makes both of you look good. Here’s the how-to directly from Twitter. It takes maybe 15 more seconds to do.

Report Spammers

Twitter is a community. Reporting spammers helps everyone. Most spammers don’t last too long on Twitter because they tend to get shut down fairly quickly. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, as Hunter Walk says, if Twitter closed the loop and told us how our efforts stop spammers? Yes, it would be.

Follow People

Don’t be a snob. You don’t know who people know. For instance, there’s a contractor who doesn’t follow me back because I’m not in his neighborhood. Little does he know I live about 10 miles away from him! And I run accounts that would retweet his content and probably also use his services. I tend to follow anyone who looks legit if their content is at all interesting. I don’t follow bots, spammers, porn accounts, or repetitious accounts.

Join Tweetchats!

Want to know who’s real and who talks? Join tweetchats in your area of expertise and interest. For fun, you could even engage in some way outside your usual area. If you’d like to join mine, it’s #DigiBlogChat (Tuesdays at 1 pm PST). Here’s my post about how to participate in tweetchats.

Twitter isn't all glitter and unicorns

Twitter isn’t all glitter and unicorns

Believe in the Power

Twitter isn’t all unicorns and fairy dust and glitter. But you can meet real people. You can discover your own deeper interests, keep up on the news, enter contests (if that’s your thing), or even donate a kidney, as my buddy Amy Donohue (@TheFabSocial) did. (Her tweetchat on live organ donation is #KidneyChat Mondays at 7 pm pst, by the way).

What’s Your Favorite Best Practice?

Did I forget one? Probably. What’s yours?


Pinterest: How to Pin!

Pinterest: How to Pin!

Pinterest: How to Pin!

People keep asking me about how to pin, hence this post. If you missed it, you can read my post about the Biggest Mistakes to Make on Pinterest, as well as the Top Ten Tasks and Power Tips on Pinterest.

Pinterest: Don't pin things that are unavailable

Pinterest: Don’t pin things that are unavailable

Clicking Through

You see pretty things, pins about creating lamps out of mason jars and building doghouses from used pallets. Why not simply pin them? You see that beautiful painting? Maybe it’s already sold, and you’re sending someone to something like the above message. You could update your pin by saying it’s sold under the pin (and recommend other works by the same artist), or you could remove the pin altogether. Why? Because it’s considerate of your audience, which you wish to grow on Pinterest. And it creates trust when they click on something and what you say is there is there. Here’s a snazzy article about “5 Things Not to Repin on Pinterest,” which I enjoyed.

Pinterest: Don't send people to dead links

Pinterest: Don’t send people to dead links







Pinterest: Don't you love finding one of these behind a pin?

Pinterest: Don’t you love finding one of these behind a pin?


Dead Links

Sometimes websites are updated and links change. Something might have moved. If you find one of these above two messages, you can go in and change the website that your pin points to by clicking on the little pencil. Your audience will appreciate not finding a 404: Not found error message behind that beautiful pin. Or, if you love the image, you can say “Image only” to let people know there’s nothing more. If you have a choice, though, choose the one with a permalink that goes to the actual thingamajig. For instance, if there’s a gorgeous cake, wouldn’t you like the recipe? What if someone leaves the cake out in the rain? Oh my goodness! I’m cracking myself up! Seriously, don’t make people dig around on a huge recipe site searching for that cake recipe. They will curse you as they drive to the store to buy a cake.


Pinterest: Sometimes there are spammy links behind pretty pictures

Pinterest: Sometimes there are spammy links behind pretty pictures


You know that cute teddy bear party, where they’re all having tea in the meadow and the one in the tutu is pouring? Sometimes bad people put spam behind those cute pictures. Or porn. Please don’t send all the kids and their moms to those sites when they want more info about the teddy bear picnic. Instead, report those spammers! Kids want bears, not bares!

What to Say?

You know what not to pin, but what should you say? I like to think of Pinterest as a mini-Google. Actually, it’s better than Google, in my opinion, because it’s image-driven search. So think about your audience. What are they looking for? Say that!

Tell People What to Expect

If you click through and there’s only an image, tell people that. If there are lots of pictures on the site, say that. Describe the pin a little bit. Here’s an example.

Pinterest: How to Pin!

Pinterest: How to Pin!

If someone is searching for “tiny house with rooftop terrace,” chances are they’d find this pin. On the other hand, if you say “cute,” how many people are searching for the word “cute”? Odds are, not very many. So describe your pin and your chances of being found will be greater. I could even add the word “brick house,” or “wooden deck,” and more people would probably find this pin.

When pinning, add your own personality to a pin

When pinning, add your own personality to a pin

Add Context

Adding your own personality makes a pin much more attractive. You could cut and paste a description (better than nothing), but adding your perspective gives people another reason to follow you. For instance, the article above is all about bad examples of tiny homes (made out of pallets!), which I found funny, because personally I don’t understand the make-stuff-out-of-pallets craze, either.

How Do You Like to Pin?

Did I leave anything out? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks!

Ten Ways to Fail with the Biggest Social Media Platforms: Pinterest

Ten Ways to Fail with the Biggest Social Media Platforms Pinterest

Ten Ways to Fail with the Biggest Social Media Platforms Pinterest


This is the second in a four-part series on ten ways to fail on social media platforms. If you missed the first one on Twitter, read it here.

You’ve had a presence on Pinterest for a few months or years, yet nothing seems to happen. The pins seem to languish on abandoned boards, with no one liking or repinning any of them. Your three followers don’t pay any attention to what you pin. If you set out to fail, you’re in luck! Here are more ideas about ways to fail!

Don’t pin anything

Why doesn’t anyone follow you even if you have no pins or boards? Aren’t they your friends? Don’t people owe you that much at least?

Fix: Get pinning!

Ugly pins

Some of the ugliest pins, to me, are the failed Do it Yourself projects. So if you have something that doesn’t look quite right, why not take a picture of that and pin it? Better still, make it the board cover! No adorable, beautiful, or funny pictures for you!

Fix: Make your pins beautiful, useful, funny and adorable. Here are some thoughts on making beautiful board covers, by the way.

Put everything on one board

Why do you need so many boards, anyway? Why not have one humongous board called “Stuff I like a lot for many different reasons!!!!” and put everything there? Why not, indeed?

Fix: Create a few different boards to organize your pins.

All your pins look the same

Variety is so overrated. You can easily pin the same pin over and over. And over.

Fix: Think about the person coming to your account. Then act accordingly.

Steal pins and identities

Ten Ways to Fail with Pinterest

Ten Ways to Fail with Pinterest

If you find an account you like, pin everything from that account. Don’t change the descriptions of the pins, and use the same names for the boards, too. Better still, create accounts with other people’s names and pretend you’re them. Celebs like having “fans.”

Fix: Nobody likes a thief, so don’t be one. Here’s a great article (see number six on his list, “Don’t Steal Someone Else’s Board.”

100 pins, then nothing

When you can’t sleep, get on Pinterest and pin. A lot. Nobody who follows you will be annoyed by all those pins of cute hedgehogs, right?

Fix: If you must pin, pin to a secret board. Then, when you’re more awake, move those pins a little at a time, to other boards.

No descriptions

A period (“.”) is the best description. Or you could also use a slash (“/”). Both are equally descriptive.

Fix: Tell us what we’re seeing. And don’t say something like, “Jeff would like this.” Unless we’re a close friend, we don’t know who Jeff is!

No fun

Make sure everyone knows your opinion. Repeat it many times and use a lot of exclamation marks!!!

Fix: Modulate your voice a little bit. Unless you’re a celebrity, people don’t like ranting.

Pins that link to Spam or Malware

Nobody’s going to actually click on that pin. Are they?

Fix: Click all the way through the pin to see where it goes. There are some not-very-nice people on the Internet. Here is Andrea Eldridge’s Article about 12 Mistakes You Are Probably Making On Pinterest.

Seen any good fails lately?

Have any made you laugh? Have any made you cry? Have any made you shout? Leave me your opinion, please! Thank you!

Tweeting for Engagement: Links Versus Text?

Tweeting for Engagement: Links Versus Text?

Tweeting for Engagement: Links Versus Text?

You’ve been on Twitter late at night looking for conversations, and all you’ve seen are tweets with links and people broadcasting. You’d really like to have a conversation and engage like you’re supposed to on social media, but how? Here’s one idea: Why not try plain text?

Tweeting Without a Net

If you don’t schedule a tweet with a link what does that look like? Will people still respect you if you don’t include a link? Well, yes, they will respect you. In fact, they might even try to **gasp** try to talk to you! How strange and wonderful that could be! And how different from the majority of the tweets out there! This isn’t about creating the perfect tweet; it’s about using Twitter to talk to people!

No Link = Less Commitment!

As Riggins Construction says, “Links are a bigger commitment for new conversations.” If you broadcast a tweet with a link, people have to click the link (if they trust it), read the whatever-it-is, think about it, and then get back to you. Without that dreaded link, people are much more likely to say hello, reply, or retweet. So it’s easier for your audience to talk to you–and for you to talk to them!

Fewer People Engaging Means You Stand Out



When fewer people are actually listening on Twitter, you get to look like a superhero when you engage! Well, maybe not like Spiderman, but you will get to be social on social media, which seems unusual some days. Now, I’m not saying to entirely stop putting out links, but adding in some tweets without links makes your Tweetstream friendlier.

The Road Less Tweeted

With all the broadcasting there is, you will definitely be in the minority if you listen. Sometimes taking the road less traveled can be a very, very good thing. You might even make a friend or two along the way!

More Spontaneity

Text without a link is more spontaneous. You can tweet about something that just happened to you, or something you’ve been thinking about, and start a conversation that way. Or you could look at your Twitstream to see if anyone is having conversations at the moment. You could also put those talkers onto a list, so that you can check back with them easily from time to time.

How Do You Like to Engage on Twitter?

Do you have any special things you like to do on Twitter to find people to talk to? I’d love to hear from you! Really. I would.


Random Pinterest Annoyances

Random Pinterest Annoyances

Random Pinterest Annoyances

If you’re like a lot of the people on Pinterest, you’ve formed some strong opinions about the right way to use this social media platform. You’ve spent hours (or maybe weeks or months) pinning, so you have a pretty good idea of what to do or not do. (By the way, if you’re using Pinterest for a startup, here are some first steps.) These are some of my completely grouchy and random thoughts.

Using the Wrong Description

Maybe we should be happy that most spammers are so lazy that they use one picture and a completely unrelated caption underneath it. But that gets pretty old on Pinterest. For instance, a picture of a purse and underneath: “EARN MA$$IVE INCOME FROM INTERNET CALL ME NOW I MAKE $38,000 FIRST WEEK. MY BROTHER IN LAW CANNOT BELIEVE IT”

Taking Credit for Original Artwork

Taking Credit for Original Artwork

Taking Credit for Original Artwork

Pinterest has gotten pretty good about telling people to take down pins when the owner requests it. So please don’t take my pin. I’m not seeing this happen much any more, but when it does, it’s still  annoying.

Spam on Shared Boards

When you (that is, I) go to a shared board all excited and then realize that it’s nothing but spam, that is the definition of disappointment. Yes, it is.

Stealing My Soul

Do not swoop in and steal all my pins without changing a single word. It’s creepy when I visit your board and every single picture and every single caption mirrors mine. Sheesh. Use some of your own ideas. What do you like about the pins? Say that.

Items with No Description

While we’re at it, why do people post things and then just put a period (.) underneath them? Doesn’t that drive you crazy? Huffington Post has a pretty good list of what not to do on Pinterest, too.

No Way to Search Your Own Pins

As Vanessa Van Edwards says in her article “Why Pinterest Will Not Be the Next Facebook,” scrolling to find that perfect taco recipe just takes too long. It’s easier to use Google.

 You’ve Been There

What annoys you? Did I leave anything out?

Follow Friday: 8 Best Practices

Friday Follow: Best Practices

Friday Follow: Best Practices

What is Friday Follow?

Every Friday, people on Twitter recommend their friends to their other friends, using the #Friday Follow or #FF hashtag. If you have someone you like, you can tell your other friends about that person, and connect good friends. This practice has been going on for years. However, some #FFs have become more spammy recently, as described in this fabu-tastic article from The Onion.

Some Avoid Friday Follow

Your #FFs Are Boring!

Your #FFs Are Boring!

Many people now pull the covers over their heads and go back to sleep just to avoid Friday mornings. Why? Millions of tweets go out with that all-too-familiar #FF hashtag and the much-maligned list of @ThisPerson @ThatPerson that fills tweet after tweet. To make matters worse, people retweet those #FFs! If you’d like to optimize your time on #FollowFriday, here are some ideas for you.

Don’t Tweet Big Lists of #FFs

People like to have a reason to follow other people. So if you stuff as many of your followers into a tweet as possible, that can be very off putting. And people may decide to unfollow you, if they categorize you as a spammer.

Don’t Retweet #FFs

If you happen to be recommended, do not retweet the entire list and add to the spam. Just thank the person who recommended you (and delete everyone else on the list, please!).

Choose Your Top Engagers

Give People a Reason to Follow!

Give People a Reason to Follow!

There may be only a few people who really engage with you every week. Pick four or five of them. Now tell us why you follow them. Be as specific as possible. I like recommending one person per tweet. Then, next Friday, pick different people to recommend.

Follow Other People’s Suggestions

If someone recommends you in a list of people to follow, check out some of their friends. Following friends of friends is a good way to extend your reach on Twitter. Notice who has good recommendations and whose recommendations are, well, bogus.

Tell People When You Follow

I like to thank the person who is the connection, like so: “Thank you, @PersonA, for the #FF! Also followed your friend @PersonB.” This often results in @PersonB thanking and following back. And @PersonA will notice that you read their tweet, too.

Recommend On Other Days

Why not do a #FollowMonday or #FollowRightNow hashtag? It’s unexpected, won’t add to the spam, and is much more likely to be well-received by your followers. You could slip one of these in between your other tweets (maybe do one per day), instead of #FollowFriday.

Go the Extra Mile

Go the Extra Mile

Go the Extra Mile

If you want extra bonus points and gold stars, you could tell everyone to follow, “like” on Facebook, and also follow on Pinterest, along with shortened URLs. This gives the person getting the recommendation a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Create a Friday Follow List

Put the people you really like onto a list, and then recommend that people check out or subscribe to the list. This requires a little more work from you, but will pay off in the long run.

What Are Your Friday Follow Recommendations?

Did I forget anything? Please leave a comment! Thanks!


Four Ways to Identify Spammers on Twitter

You may be new to Twitter, or you may have been around for awhile. Spammers have been around for awhile, too, and are getting more clever all the time. Here are some ways to identify people who don’t have the best intentions.

The Person Does Not Know You, Yet Acts Like They Do

A potential spammer may call you out by name in a familiar way and ask you to do something, like click on a link, visit a website, or vote for them in a contest. Never click on links if you don’t know where those links go. If you think a message came from someone you know who doesn’t know what they’re doing, or your friend who has been hacked, you could write back “Have we met?” or “Have you been hacked?” Start with a Direct Message, then send a public message after that (many people don’t check their DMs). If you don’t get an answer back, that’s an answer right there!

You Receive Direct Message Phishing Tweets

Phishing tweets are often Direct Messages (DMs) which sound like this: “I can’t believe this is you!” and then a shortened link. Or “What are you doing in this video?” If it sounds like high school “drama” or something your friend (who may have been hacked) would never say, don’t click on it! Tell your friend to change their password—which may or may not stop the unwanted DMs from appearing.

Bad Typos, Incomplete Sentences, Too Many Followers

If someone follows you and their tweets are filled with bad spelling mistakes and incomplete sentences, that can be an indication of a spammer. Or if their tweets are just filled with @this and @that, at the very least that will be annoying after about 2 minutes. And if they only have 3 tweets, but 100,000 followers, that can definitely be an indication that they bought followers.

Porn or “Adult” Material

Just as with a Twitter account with bad spelling mistakes, an account with a naked person or pornographic image as an avatar is likely to be a spammer. My own opinion is just not to follow back. Unless they actively reach out to me, I ignore them. Just like anyone else, if they sell something I’m not interested in, I simply won’t follow them.

Other Annoying Behavior

Someone may not exactly be Spam, but they may be annoying! For example, they may be plagiarizing your tweets or stealing from you in some other way. There are zombies and ghouls around on Twitter, even when it’s not Halloween!

What isn’t Spam?

If someone advertises their services on Twitter and you don’t like those services, that isn’t Spam. Just unfollow that person. There is no need to block or report them as Spam. Sometimes newbies report as Spam people who are not spammers.

Ways to Block Spam

Follow @Spam on Twitter and report Spam to them.

Go to the Spammer’s profile page and report them as Spam. You do not need to follow them to report an account as Spam.

Slam the door on Spam includes ideas on how to report Spam (NY Times blogpost).

Want to know how Twitter is working behind the scenes to fix Spam? Sure you do!

Do you think Spam is getting worse on Twitter? Why or why not? Please comment!

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