What’s in a name – A guide to social media name changes

My name isAs you may or may not have noticed, I have recently changed my name. Now before anyone makes the mistake that one hapless recruitment consultant did when touting for business, no I haven’t got married. I have reverted to my maiden name.

Now when I got married and originally changed my name, the only difficulty was getting IT to change my email address, and sending that information round to clients. Changing back however has been somewhat more difficult, between twitter, facebook, and the dozen other social media profiles and websites I’m named on, it’s amazing I didn’t develop a split personality over the last month. However with a bit of planning, it all went very smoothly, and I didn’t confuse anyone too much.

So here is my guide to changing your name in the social media world;

1. Don’t rush into it

Whether you have just got married, just got divorced, or changed your name by deed poll, you’re probably quite excited to be changing your name, and keen to get on and do it. But before you do stop and make a list of all of the places you need to change your name. Chances are there are some out there that you have forgotten, so make sure you go through your emails and check Google for places you’re mentioned. Also think about how long it may take to change your name on some properties. If you need someone else to make the change for you, give them ample notice and try and find out when they will make the change so you can time everything properly.

2. What links where
Now that you know where you need to change your name, double check which profiles are linking to each other. For instance my Tumblr links to my linkedin, twitter & facebook, so I needed to change those links after I changed my name on those networks.

3. Buy the domains
With my old name I could never get anything closely resembling a vanity URL (do you have any idea how many Sarah Goodwins there are in the world?) amazingly though SarahCarling.com was available, as was SarahCarling.co.uk I snapped them both up before I changed anything else, of course now that means I actually have to do something with them, but that’s for another day.

4. Your Avatar
As much as you might want to change your avatar at the same time you change your name, try to avoid it. You avatar and your name are the two ways that people identify you. Changing one can cause enough confusion, changing both will make you completely unrecognisable. ideally you will have had the same avatar for some time before you change your name too.

5. Twitter
Changing your name on twitter is easy, you just need to change your username in the settings panel. It’s best to give people a heads up that you are about to change your name before you do it, and again once you have made the change. Then be prepared for a flurry of tweets as people congratulate you on the name change. Really important point as soon as you change your name on twitter your old name becomes available. Register this straight away and put up a tweet directing people to the correct profile. This will make sure that if you have missed any links to your twitter profile, people will still be able to find you.

6. Facebook, Linkedin & everywhere else
Again you can change your name quite easily on most social networks in the settings area. It’s important to remember to change your unique URL too. Facebook is great as it allows you to include a previous name as standard so make sure to do this if you still want to be found in searches for your old name.

7. Websites
So now that you know all of your new social media URLs go and update all of the websites you link to them from. This also means changing the references on other social media sites. Check google again, and make sure that you have changed your profile on every site you rank for.

And that’s it. Of course once you have done all that you will spend the next month hearing from people who you haven’t spoken to in years, if ever, all wanting to get a bit of the gossip on why you changed your name, but they do all go away eventually.

Photo Credit:  red5standingby

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4 Responses to “What’s in a name – A guide to social media name changes”

  1. Luci says:

    Interesting post, I’ve never really thought about just how hard changing your name could be! I guess you could kind of apply many of the points you’ve detailed to changing a brand name as well.

  2. Tola says:

    Yeah, I knew a name was important, but never realised how important it was on the Internet. I need to be aware of that when I take the big leap. Thanks for the heads up Sarah.

  3. PoLR says:

    Interesting point about changing the avatar at a different point. I’d considered changing just my avatar on Twitter but know how confused I have got when other people have done it. Changing your name must have been a nightmare!

    @luci : I hate it when brands change their name, takes it ages to go in my head. Opal Fruit anyone..?

  4. [...] “Don’t rush into it. Whether you have just got married, just got divorced, or changed your name by deed poll, you’re probably quite excited to be changing your name, and keen to get on and do it. But before you do stop and make a list of all of the places you need to change your name. Chances are there are some out there that you have forgotten, so make sure you go through your emails and check Google for places you’re mentioned.” – Sarah from SEO Chicks. [...]

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