You may have seen or heard me comment that accountants who tweet using their firm’s name are missing a trick. In this blog post you’ll find out why.

Twitter is a social media platform that is suited to building personal engagement. It is less effective when used as a broadcast media and this is typically what we expect of and experience with corporate twitter accounts.

I have long been convinced that most accountants who only tweet in the firm’s name are largely wasting their time. It will invariably take far longer to get value from twitter if you fail to tweet as a real person.  Indeed, most smaller firms who start to use twitter stop soon afterwards as they find it’s ‘not working’ for them. They struggle to attract followers, to secure any engagement and thus to get any benefit from their time and activity on twitter.

It is clear to me that it is generally easier to get value from twitter if your face and name appear as your twitter username even if your twitter handle is your firm’s name. This is still not as good though as incorporating your name into your twitter handle.

Before looking at some examples, let me add a word about the length. Within reason the shorter the better. Twitter limits your twitter handle to just 15 characters. Choose them carefully. You will of course also be constrained by the length of your first and last names, the length of your firm’s name, whether the latter is ever referred to only by its initials and also by your role in the firm.

Generic tips:

  • You will seem more professional if you have an intelligible handle, rather than what may seem to be random letters or a name followed by random numbers or your year of birth.
  • Use upper and lower case to make it easier to read. The mix has no impact on twitter. Thus you’ll get my twitter account whether you type: BookMarkLee, bookmarklee or any variation thereon
  • Underscores are best avoided whenever possible as they can cause issues for anyone who accesses twitter on an iphone – and possibly via other devices too. NB: Twitter does not allow hyphens or other punctuation in twitter handles.
  • Choose a handle as close to your name as possible as this is your online brand. Every time you tweet, you promote brand awareness for your name and reinforce the connection between your name and profile photo. This makes it so much easier to connect in real life. I am frequently approached at events by people who have recognised me from my twitter profile photo.

Effective approaches to choosing a twitter handle:

  • Your name or a professionally appropriate variation thereon eg: @JohnPeterSmith
  • A combination of your name and your firm’s name or initials eg: @BDO_JohnSmith
  • A combination of your name and your profession eg: @JohnS_Accounts or @JohnTaxSmith
  • A combination of your name and location eg: @JohnSmithBelfast

Less effective approaches:

  • A combination of your initials and your firm’s name  eg: @JS4BakerTilly
  • A combination of your firm’s name and your initials eg: @BakerTilly_JS
  • A combination of letters that only makes sense once someone has worked it out eg: @jsaccsol (John Smith Accounting Solutions)
  • A self -proclaimed title eg @TheTaxGuruGuy or @GreatBookkeeping

If you want to see how thousands of other accountants do this here is my twitter list of all the UK accountantsI have so far found on twitter. I have a separate list for those who tweet in their firm’s name. Many accountants are quite inventive with the descriptions of their firms that they use on twitter. Sadly though hardly anyone sees these descriptions.  This is because typically the accounting firms’ tweets are less interesting and secure less engagement than those of accountants who tweet as themselves.  If your tweets don’t prompt interest then no one will look at your profile or click through to your website.

By the way, if you want to be added to either of my twitter lists, simply follow and/or message me on twitter and I’ll do the rest.

NB: The good news is that Twitter allows you to change an existing handle without this impacting your follower numbers. You simply go to the ‘edit profile’ page on your twitter account, click the link for ‘account’, enter your new username/handle and click ‘save’.

Do share your views and let me know whether you agree or disagree with my advice on this topic. And please share any clever or different styles of twitter handles that could work for accountants too.