Never, ever change your Twitter handle by @LindseyAnnison

twitter online profile Here is my experience of handing over my beloved and much-used Twitter handle, plus associated domain names, email addresses and contacts, to a good cause.

To cut a very long story into one (longish) paragraph, Digital Dales started out as a voluntary organisation helping Yorkshire Dales businesses to go online in 1999-ish; watched all our tourist businesses, agriculture and industry nearly be dragged into oblivion by the stinking, greasy smoke of the Foot & Mouth pyres in 2001; morphed into a broadband event organiser, run by a rural broadband obsessive, to try to get everyone online firstly whilst the countryside was shut, and then because it was and is vital to rural survival anyway. In 2013, wanting a change of direction in my own life, I decided to hand over the name to a community group doing Digital in the Dales – Fibregarden, who are installing fibre optics (FTTH) to every home and farm in Garsdale and Dent because BT didn’t feel like doing IT.

I thought it would just be a matter of transferring the domain names, and handing over the Twitter account – change the password, start tweeting, folks. Oh, how naïve!

The domain names were simple. Go to host, transfer to FibreGarden’s hosting account. 2 minutes. Actually, it was not quite so easy as that but compared to what came next, and is still ongoing, it was a doddle.

Go to Twitter account. Export all followers and followed. That required some assistance from Twitter before I managed to get everyone into a spreadsheet. Tell FG the job is done. FG point out that there are all these apps associated with the account and permissions to rescind. Work through about 100 apps trying to decide whether I want to transfer all this to my new Twitter account. Can’t decide so end up writing them down on a piece of paper as I am surfing on my phone at this point and the copy and paste, dash between two browser tabs etc is taking more time than my handling of a pen will.

Breathe a sigh of relief, set up a new Twitter account, change details on all my devices, tell FG to change the password and wish them, “Happy tweeting!”

Then, because they have taken over my old email address, I start getting forwards from FG saying, “And another to deal with!” It is quite astounding how many places DigitalDales has signed up to over the years: white papers, reports, newsletters, forums, monitoring services and so on. I try to handle each one as it comes in but in the meantime, I am also getting emails to my own email address that relate to Digital Dales’ accounts across a plethora of sites and apps.

Whilst I am up to my neck in trying to track down every site or app I have ever signed up to for Digital Dales, the Digital Dales Twitter account suddenly shows a tweet about one of my client’s blog posts. Then another. And another. Huh?! Where did those spring from? In order to reach a wider audience, I had obviously set up ‘something’ at some point to pick up whenever they post and tweet it out. Finding where that tweet had originated from finally resulted in me ringing the client and asking if they could help me track it down. Several days later, it turned out to be Feedburner, which I have barely used since Google took it over. (That sojourn into Feedburner reminded me of umpteen other accounts all promoting through FeedBurner plus how useful it can be, so spending a day in there went on my now enormous To Do list).

The emails kept coming in, especially from monitoring services for Twitter and social media – who has retweeted you, how many new followers this week, notifications from social networks, increase in Klout score, an answer in a LinkedIn group or forum – you name it, I’ve probably signed up to it. Each one requires a visit to the site, try to remember the password, (and don’t forget the reminder will got to the digitaldales email address so forewarn them to look out for it), see if you can change the username and contact details, or simply delete the account. Then decide if I want to keep using the service for my own account, business and clients. If so, set it up. Next….

The sense of isolation on Twitter was extreme. From 3000+ people to zero in one fell swoop. My timeline limped along and I realised just how much I missed certain tweeple. The only way I have found to get them back is to import them manually. And that is a task and a half. Not because copying a Twitter handle is difficult, but now I need to catch up with them, read their timeline, see what the latest crack is, who they are now following of use to me, and resisting the temptation to get lost in following links to all their fab content. After all, that is why I was following them before!

I imported 10+ twitter users a day until my timeline started to look interesting again. Getting my followers back has not been so simple. Whilst FibreGarden were kind enough to put a link to my new account in the Digital Dales bio and tweet about it a few times whilst they found their feet, it turns out many people didn’t actually know my real name. Digital Dales – oh yes! Lindsey? Who? That was a lesson learned that I’d quite like to share with others not tweeting under their real name.

Breaking 14 year old habits was the hardest. Digital Dales was me – the CEO, Director, blogger, tweeter, event organiser, ranter, etc. Twitter = @DigitalDales in my head and in my fingers. I logged into forums to respond to posts only to find I was locked out – this username does not exist – and had to then think hard about what had happened. For several months, upon realisation, there was that sense of loss and a minor identity crisis. “Oh yes, I’m not me any more.”

The flood of jobs to do has now, about 8 months later, reduced to a trickle, but I still have to decide whether to bin something or reconfigure it to my new identity. And despite my best efforts to escape broadband, and focus on my own business, it is becoming very tempting to create a new broadband identity to handle all this stuff again…..Or just start a new broadband project in 2014 to fill the gap in my life that Digital Dales has left!

I have reduced the number of problems changing from Digital Dales caused to shorten this post, but believe me, the longer you have a profile online, the more there is to deal with. Before you change, think hard about the consequences and Tref, be glad your transformation is proving relatively painless!

Published by Lindsey Annison

JFDI Internet marketer, author, Fibre To The Home and rural broadband campaigner, idea merchant

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2 Comments

  1. To be fair Lins, I don’t think any other person or organisation will have signed up to as much stuff as you… I mean you have been at it for so long and nothing ever escaped your attention, I think it is fair to say you have tried just about every application that has come along in the two decades…
    I think others may find the job simpler?
    But yes, backing out of stuff is harder than wading in.
    Its also a lot more fun wading in – backing out is thankless admin more than fun.

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