How To Get Someone’s Username On Twitter
When I initially started using Twitter in 2008, I purposefully kept a low profile, particularly because I was still working for a huge corporation. It's difficult to imagine today, but Twitter's future and potential popularity were previously in doubt. They only had approximately 500K monthly active users (MAUs) in2008, and even my tech friends in the Bay Area, where I resided at the time, weren't sure whether the platform would take off. So I chose a VERY odd identity, jp liu (underscores must have been in at the time), simply to play about with the platform while being as anonymous as possible.
Fast forward five years, when I decided to start my own firm, and Twitter now had 240 million MAUs. Crazy. Twitter has around 330 million MAUs as of 2019. Twitter, as far as anybody can tell, is here to stay.
Having that strange username was not ideal for a career adviser who teaches clients on developing a strong, consistent personal brand, which includes protecting your internet usernames. I imagined I'd simply go up to @JosephLiu and grab him, but guess what? It had been stolen by someone else. In the year 2009, Because the user did not seem to be active, I attempted to contact him to see if he would relinquish it. There was no reaction. So, how about @joeliu? Nope, it's taken you’re in. Taken. Fine. AT LEAST without the underscore, @jpliu. Taken.
My best, though unattractive, answer was to settle with @JosephLiu_. Wow, that underscore drove me insane. Simply ask my wife. I was irritated every time I saw it. And I was even more irritated since I had joined before everyone else who had picked the other options.
I propose that everyone who is concerned about their personal brand acquire Twitter identity as soon as possible. However, if you're reading this, it's possible that it's too late. Sorry.
So, what should you do if you desire a username that is already in use? You might try coming up with a different username. You may also do what I did and attempt to secure it anyhow. Here are the precise procedures I used to get my chosen Twitter which had previously been taken by someone else.
There are no assurances in this procedure. In truth, my efforts did not work the first two times I attempted, but with patience, it ultimately did. I hope it works for you as well.
If your Twitter account has already been taken, there are six actions you may do to safeguard it.
- Obtain the relevant Top-Level Domain (TLD), preferably.
When I registered my account @JosephPLiu, I also registered josephpliu.com as my principal website. During my initial couple of unsuccessful efforts to obtain my account, I did not yet possess my corresponding.COM domain. As a result, I'd advise you to protect your username.com. If.COM is not accessible, you might try.net,.org, or another popular Top-Level Domain (TLD). However, try to get the.COM TLD since it is the most extensively used and recognized TLD.
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May 2019 Update: In 2019, I switched to josephliu.co as my primary domain name since, well, it's shorter. According to Namecheap's 2018 Domain Insights & Trends Report, the.CO TLD seems to be more frequently acknowledged as a reputable, professional option than.COM. CO was the second most popular ccTLD (country specific Top-Level Domain) in the first half of 2018. According to them, “.CO has grown in popularity since it is short, SEO friendly, and associated with ‘business.'” .COM, on the other hand, reigns supreme.
Make a list of that.
In your account, set COM as the principal site.
Edit your profile and make this URL your primary website.
- Check to see whether the target username's profile is dormant.
When I examined the previous @JosephPLiu Twitter account, it seemed to be utterly dead and dormant. Ideally, you want your target username's profile page to look like this:
You could be in luck if there's an egg in the profile, the individual hasn't Tweeted in years,and/or their followers and following counts have been stagnant for a long time. Continue to the next stage. If the username you seek is already in use by someone who is quite active on Twitter, you're out of luck. There is no need to prepare any more. Sorry for the inconvenience.
When I saw the former @JosephPLiu account had been dormant for years, I felt less awful about trying to steal it. I really Tweeted to the user as a courtesy (this now displays my current username, but I tweeted from my old one):
Would you be willing to let me take over your Twitter handle, @josephpliu, if you aren't actively using it? -Joseph (Please direct message me)
I'm divided about whether you should notify the individual from whom you want the username of your plans. On the one hand, it's a kind gesture. On the other hand, it may just cause the person to bunker down. I'll let you make your own decision about it.
- Submit an impersonation claim to Twitter.
Using this form, you may report an account for impersonation on Twitter.
Select “An account is impersonating myself or someone I know,” followed by “I am being impersonated.”
Enter the desired username in the “Username of the account you are reporting” field. “Your Username” is automatically filled in. In my situation, I used the handle @JosephPLiu.
Enter your email address. In my situation, my email had the phrase “joseph Liu,” which matched the structure of the username I desired. I'm not sure whether it makes a difference, but it certainly can't harm.
Explain why you believe you should obtain this username in the “Anything else you'd want to tell us?” area. I'd recommend that you at the very least cover off:
Why should you be the legitimate owner?
The information suggests that the target username's account is dormant.
In case it's useful, here's what I wrote:
As supporting papers, I submitted my passport and driver's license, both of which clearly reflect my entire name.
That's all. Submit your information and cross your fingers. Twitter will send you an email immediately acknowledging your request.
- Wait for Twitter to send you an email.
If you're fortunate and Twitter approves your request, you'll get an email from them. I received this email three working days later:
This leads me to believe that you may be successful even if you don't have an active Twitter account, but I'm not sure.
- Respond to Twitter with your preferred choice.
I promptly responded via email, asking option 1 above and stating:
“I already have a Twitter handle, Joseph Liu_.” I'd want to maintain all of my tweets and followers, but switch the handle with @josephpliu if possible.”
I got a last email from them in 10 minutes confirming that the transfer had been completed:
RE-SECURE YOUR OLD USERNAME AND SET UP A FORWARDING MESSAGE AS A BONUS TIP
Your former username will be released instantly, so be prepared to reclaim it, at least temporarily, so that when people click on old Tweets or references that relate to your old profile username, they don't wind up on a dead page.
I would advise you not to put your complete name on the old profile page in order to prevent misleading Google results, which you will want to favor your active account. I just typed J Liu.
Simply give a short explanation of your new username in your profile description, as well as a pinned Tweet, if desired. You may see what I've done by following me on Twitter at @JosephLiu_. I may ultimately cancel this account, but it will suffice for the time being.
- Create a consistent internet presence.
If you are unable to get your preferred username, you may always attempt to come up with another. Securing your chosen profile URL, on the other hand, enables you to have a more professional-looking handle, as well as consistent personal branding across all of your social media profiles (I use @JosephPLiu throughout most of my social media sites, including LinkedIn and YouTube).
So, after you've secured your Twitter account, you should think about securing your username on these other networks before someone else does.