I consider myself to be pretty active on the social media front. I have this lovely blog. I am on Facebook (though I don’t play the games…at least not anymore. But that’s another story…). I am also on Multiply (as Pencil Neck Geek) and on Twitter (as Pencilneckgeek).
One of the best pieces of advice that I seen given to writers in regard to social media is that their name is their brand. Kristen Lamb (We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media) also describes the practice succinctly in regard to Twitter:
Tweeting under a cutesy moniker. We have discussed this one before, but some people are new (here is the post). Every time we tweet, that is an “advertisement” that contributes to building our brand. The only acceptable Twitter handle is the name that will be on the front of our books. Period. If we are tweeting under @FairyGirl, we are contributing great content—blogs, articles, conversation—but we have the WRONG name top-of-mind. Readers cannot buy a book by Fairy Girl, so all that tweeting is wasted effort.
This is also advice that I’ve received at several panel discussions and other articles for writers. But here is my rub: my name is long. Like, freaky long.
It always has been, even before I got married and added another last name. On standardized tests I would always be listed as “Pittman, Shedri” because my full name could not be contained. Now that I have hyphenated my name, it’s even longer. In fact, on Twitter my name is so long that they won’t let me have my full name. I have to cut out my wife’s last name so I can fit.
I could use my first initial and last name…which forms the word “spittman” or “spittman-hassett”…neither are particularly appetizing.
As a result, I’ve been Tweeting as “pencilneckgeek”. It encapsulates my personality rather well and isn’t overly long.
But, as Kristen correctly points out, if I’m going to be serious about using Twitter to promote my writing, I need to use my name.
Thus my conundrum.
So, my vast audience, I turn to you: should I abandon the “pencilneckgeek” moniker on Twitter? If so, any suggestions as to what I should use?
Feel free to vote in the poll I’ve set up and put any suggestions you have in the comments.
Your insights are appreciated and breathlessly anticipated.
I went through the same thing recently and changed, myself. I do think it’s important that you use your real name. And, Kristen Lamb knows what she’s talking about.
Oh, I have no doubt of that. I guess it’s just that when my name takes up 25 of 140 characters, it seems a bit counterproductive…
Yeah. I don’t know. It’s a difficult decision.
As long as you have your real name under your “handle” and it’s searchable, I don’t know if it matters.
You could keep Pencil… for the more flippant and casual stuff, and start Twitter, blog(s), etc. under your real name for all your writing and professional (or r/l, depending on the website) stuff.
That’s someting I thought about too. I currently have two email addresses and it’s kind of a hassle to keep up with both, but not too much. That might be a good compromise, though.
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