What to avoid when renaming your social media username

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Changing your social media username is a big deal, especially if it’s part of a rebrand. Give the process proper respect and don’t make these rookie mistakes. Otherwise, you could be on Mashable for the wrong reasons (like when Netflix’s Qwikster brand was represented by a pot-smoking Elmo).

Lesson: Be sure to check out what accounts are already registered. There may be more to plan out than you realize. Luckily if you’re a customer, Raven’s social media marketing software can help along the way with things like monitoring mentions of your old username and checking for broken links to your old accounts.

Use this 9-point checklist to make sure you have all your bases covered.

1. Don’t expect to keep all your followers.

Are you willing to lose some followers by changing usernames across all your social networks? Some folks have made it to the other side without losing any followers and others haven’t. A social network’s username policy may apply to you differently than others and rules can change quickly. You may also see better results if you know someone or put in the extra time working with a customer representative. Factor this into your decision; do some research to see what you’ll lose by moving forward.

2. Don’t forget a list of ideal backup usernames.

Once you know your new desired username, make a list of your second choices. If YourBrand isn’t available, will you go with something like YourBrandHQ or YourBrandApp or YourBrandCity? If your first choice is taken, and you can’t negotiate passing over ownership, you will have secured your next ideal option.

3. Don’t forget about registering mock usernames.

Consider registering related usernames to your new brand, such as YourBrandSucks and FakeYourBrand, to own as much of your branding as you can — good and bad.

4. Don’t forget to consider visuals for new accounts.

Is your username change part of a rebrand or do you mention your old username in your current social media backgrounds? Make a plan for rebranding visuals across your social networks by roping in a designer early.

5. Don’t forget to check for broken links to your old accounts.

After the change, make sure to update all links to your social media accounts on your site and in all the locations your social accounts are being linked to. Use Raven’s Backlink Explorer to find where folks are linking to your old accounts online. For each social network, search the historic index for something like twitter.com/raventools with a scope of URL and then group your results by domain for easy scanning. You now have a working list for updating old or broken social links.

6. Don’t forget to monitor your older usernames.

When you change your username, all your followers may not realize you’ve made the switch. If someone reaches out to your old account by habit, this conversation doesn’t have to fall through the cracks. Social monitoring can also help. For instance, in Raven you can track mentions of a twitter username with Social Monitor.

7. Don’t forget to set up a message on your older accounts.

Consider putting up a we’ve moved account so people know where to find you on social networks that don’t automatically redirect old usernames to new ones.

8. Don’t use the same password for everything.

This is basic, but worth repeating. If you have the same password for everything, then a hacker only has to figure out how to get into any one of your accounts to get into them all. Here’s a security checklist for marketers, if you want tips on the best way to store your passwords.

9. Don’t use your personal email for company accounts.

If you create any new accounts, remember to use a company email address. Ideally, use something like socialmedia@yourcompany.com. That way you can have emails forwarded to multiple people who may need to be alerted of changes to your social media accounts. Just don’t use your personal gmail address. Team members won’t have any options if you’re unreachable during your vacation and the password needs to be reset.

Good Luck!

If you want insight into the process per social network, Erica McGillivray talks about lessons after rebranding SEOmoz to Moz. Just remember, since policies per social network are always changing, review help documentation from each major social network before getting started.

Keep this checklist handy the next time you handle a social media username switch. It will help you not appear on Mashable for the wrong reasons. In the meantime, here are 4 Ways Nissan’s Social Team Avoids Mashable’s Wrath.