“We highly recommend you use Twitter to professionally share your articles.”
Those words struck fear into me as I nodded at my new manager. I desperately hoped he had not discovered my current Twitter account. It had lain dormant since college but was still very much discoverable. The lyrical subtweets from past heartbreaks and fights were still there, but that wasn’t the worst of it.
My Twitter handle. That was the worst of it.
How to change your Twitter handle
- Login to Twitter
- Click on your photo in the top right corner — your Profile and Settings button
- Click Settings and privacy
- Edit your username in the first field
- Create a Twitter username that hasn't been used yet
- Click Save changes
I won’t share with you what it was, but it was something my friends and I found ironic and hilarious, but an outsider might be weirded out by. I’m sure you’ve all been in the same boat about one thing or another.
Anyway, to say the least, it wasn’t really professional sounding.
I debated creating a new Twitter account only for work, but scrapped that idea when I realized I'd have to start completely over as far as followers goes. Gaining followers ain't easy, and I wanted to tweet at the audience I had already curated.
That night, I had to try out a few passwords before unlocking the old Twitter account and dusting it off. I scoured the old Tweets, deleting those angsty cries for attention. And then I moved onto the last piece of the agenda: changing my Twitter handle.
Only, I couldn’t figure out how right away.
Rather than allow you to experience the momentary panic I felt thinking it was impossible to change, I’ve compiled a step-by-step explanation of how to change your Twitter handle — with pictures.
It’s not exactly intuitive, but once you know where to go, it’s easy!
Change your Twitter handle
Changing your Twitter handle is great if you’re trying to re-brand yourself, you want a cleaner URL, or you were embarrassing in college (me). Your Twitter handle is the collection of characters that come after the @ symbol.
It is not your display name, which most likely, is your real name properly spaced out and capitalized.
Changing your Twitter handle will not impact much as far as your past history goes. Any new tweets you make will, of course, carry the new handle, and the past tweets on your profile will be rebranded with the new handle.
If you’re ready to make the change, follow these steps.
Step 1: Login to Twitter
Go to Twitter.com and login to your account. You can use your phone number, email or username to login to your account. If you can’t remember your password, like me, you can click Forgot password? and recover it that way.
Step 2: Click on your Twitter profile picture in top right corner
Once logged in, you’ll find yourself on your news feed, filled with the tweets, retweets, and likes of the accounts you follow. Click on your little circular picture in the top right corner of the page. If you don’t have a profile picture, it will appear as a gear.
Step 3: Select Settings and privacy
When you click on the circular photo, a drop-down menu will appear. Select Settings and privacy about two-thirds of the way down.
Step 4: Edit username
Once here, it’s pretty straightforward. The Username field, which is also your Twitter handle, is the first thing on the page.
Blissfully press the delete button until you’re working with a clean slate.
Step 5: Create a unique Twitter username
Now, if you’re trying to become more professional or create a recognizable brand for yourself on social media, I recommend using your name in some variation. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and have a common name, the Twitter handle you want might already be taken.
In that case, try including a few underscores or numbers until you’ve created a unique Twitter handle that no one has laid claim to yet. For mine, I included my middle initial and underscores for it to become @holly_h_hunt.
There are some restrictions on Twitter handles to keep in mind. If you receive an error message when you try to change your handle, it’s probably because of one of the following reasons:
Twitter handle restrictions:
- The username cannot be longer than 15 characters
- The only symbol you can use are underscores
- The username cannot be claimed by a suspended or deactivated account
- The username cannot contain the words Twitter or Admin — only official Twitter accounts can include those words
Step 6: Click Save changes
Once you get the nice green message beneath the username field saying the username is available, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save changes.
Ta-da! You now have a new Twitter handle.
To note about new Twitter handle
One weird loophole when it comes to changing your handle is this: any past tweets or retweets you were mentioned in won’t change. They will still have your previous handle. The conversation and connection between the tweets does not die; if you look in your Tweets & mentions column on your profile, you’ll still see all the conversations you had with your old handle.
But if anyone were to see your friend’s tweet and try to click on your handle, one of two things could happen. Either they wouldn’t be able to click the handle at all, which means no one has yet claimed that handle since you changed it. Or, if someone has claimed it, the link will take them to this new person’s Twitter.
If you want to avoid anyone hijacking your old handle, make a new Twitter account with a different email and password. Use your old handle for this account. In the description section of the profile, explain that you’ve changed your handle and you can now be found @YourNewHandle. That way no one could possibly be confused.
Now you’re ready to be your most professional self and use your Twitter handle for work!
Want to take this professionalism one step further? Learn how to get verified on Twitter.