Saturday, 14 August 2010

A rose by any other name

For nearly a year I've been grappling in the back of my mind with the question of whether it still made sense to have two separate twitter accounts. Last month I came to the conclusion that there is so much convergence in my art life and my non-art life that it would be better to drop one of the accounts. In the process I confused myself and just about everyone else who noticed something had changed. In the interests of (hopefully) clarifying things and as a cautionary tale for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar position.

Here's a timeline of what happened:
Back in the summer of 2007 I joined twitter, and @helenharrop was born.
My twitter account sat fairly dormant until later that year when I started meeting other people in the real world who used twitter.
Many moons later I decided to change my twitter name to @iamhelenharrop which seems a bit crazy because it's 3 characters longer but it matches my email address and I liked the quirkiness of it.
In December 2008 I made the fateful decision to set up a second twitter account, originally as a safe place to hide, which became @iamcreative and was where I posted about arty and creative things rather than more geeky stuff which was usually connected to my work life.

When I made the decision to drop one of the accounts I was faced with a conundrum ... my @iamhelenharrop account had a longer history and therefore would reflect my cool geek status as a fairly early adopter of twitter ... but I really liked the @iamcreative name and felt that it better expresses what I'm about ... so I came up with a cunning solution ... well it seemed cunning at the time, in retrospect it was ony ever going to cause high levels of confusion.

Here's what I did:
Step 1) I renamed my @iamcreative account to be @iamelsewhere
Step 2) I renamed my @iamhelenharrop account to be @iamcreative
Simples! ... except that the result was mild to extreme confusion for my followers (particularly those following my @iamcreative account originally).

I had thought that renaming the account I was dropping @iamelsewhere would flag to folks that I had moved to a different account but I don't think people have largely realised that's what it means (and I'm still getting new followers thanks to the new 'Who to Follow' feature on twitter). The confusion was greatly exacerbated by the fact that I was telling folks who followed me as @iamcreative to switch and follow me as @iamcreative ... a few people replied saying words to the effect of 'eh?! I'm already following you as @iamcreative' and then I had to try and explain in 140 characters what had happened.

Effectively what I've done is to move my arty twitter id over to my work account without a clear strategy for getting my arty followers to move with me ... fairly big fail there! I've been thinking a lot about how I can remedy the situation and have decided that:
a) I'm going to post a link to this blogpost a few times over the forthcoming days and weeks on my @iamelsewhere account

b) I'm going to change the @iamelsewhere account to 'protected' in a few weeks time so that new folks are put off following me

c) I'm going to go through the 300+ folks I was following on the original @iamcreative account (which is now @iamelsewhere ... keep up!) and follow them as @iamcreative (using the account that used to be @iamhelenharrop ... is this making any sense yet?!)

So there you go ... how to confuse several hundred people and lose 700+ followers in two easy steps ... next time I try anything like this I think I'll storyboard the process first!

In conclusion if you were following me as @iamcreative before July then you need to follow me again at :)


Anonymous said...

This is very funny! I think it's a twitter design flaw personally and that you shouldn't have been able to create such confusion!

adrienne said...

are you just going to keep @iamelsewhere as a dormant account? i'm just starting a new writing endeavour at and want to create a twitter account to match it... hence i'm wondering if actually you may end up deleting the @iamelsewhere?