Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?

Your Twitter Username is Part of Your Brand
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Recently I started a discussion called “The Ten Do’s of Using Twitter To Promote Your Business” on the LinkedIn group, “Business Knowledge Share — powered by American Express”. My 4th tip is to be consistent about your social media presence. I talk about creating your Gravatar and registering the same username across all social media platforms. (The rest of the post includes nine more tips on promoting your business with Twitter but I’m here today to talk about the branding aspect of choosing your username.)

Does Your Social Media Username Represents Your Brand?

What I did not go into in any depth in that article was how you should go about actually choosing your username. That is, not until one of the group members, Melinda Delisle-Clark, posted this comment:

Ok, I have a question for you social media experts. I am in the process of starting up a new business for creating informational web/mobile apps in a specific niche. Because of the market we will be pursuing, I definitely want to engage in more social media interaction, but I want to be sure to set up with the best username. Should I use my existing personal accounts, focus on an account under the business name, or focus on an account with the name of our flagship product?

Your Brand: You, Your Business or Your Product?

Melinda’s question could easily start a discussion thread of its own. I was surprised that it didn’t. So far, the only response to Melinda is what I wrote (along with the short follow-up discussion between the two of us):

Melinda, I believe that’s a branding question. My opinion is that it comes down to whether you’re branding yourself or your business. Thinking ahead, if someday you were to sell this business, that Twitter account could be seen as an asset (especially if you’ve built a loyal following and have used it to build relationships with your customers). For that reason alone, you may want to create a username that relates to your business or flagship product.

As for choosing between branding your business name or branding your flagship product, would branding a specific product limit you? Would you be better off branding your business name? That way, you could build awareness of all of your products with the same Twitter account. (I recently posted part 2 of this discussion, “How To Convert Tweets Into Sales For Your Business” and I talk about how companies like Dell use Twitter. They branded their account with their company name not a specific product.)

What Are Your Thoughts?

What advice would you offer to Melinda?  Is your username part of your overall business strategy? Would you do things differently now than when you first started? We’d love to hear from you.

(Please feel free to join the conversation on the “Business Knowledge Share” LinkedIn group and offer Melinda your thoughts. You need to be member of the group to access it but it will be worth it.  🙂 )

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Author: Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

63 thoughts on “Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?”

  1. Great discussion! I found this in search b’m going through the same dilemma. As I’m starting a marketing business, my concept unfolds around marketing Mentorship. While I may be the speaker for the company, I envision it and hope for it to one day be bigger than myself. Other leaders in the industry become guest speakers or “mentors” for the client or community within the business.

    The business name is much more memorable than my full name and would seem to lend more of an immediate credibility. Also, with a more universal name, or “business name” branding, it would be, at least I think, more valuable than say a personal brand. That being a business that could be handed down or sold.

    Still debating…

    1. Hi Daniel,
      Thanks for joining the conversation. It sounds to me like you’re on the same track of thinking that I adhere too. Long term, if you’ve branded your business successfully and you were interested in selling it, I believe there would be more value to it.

      Can I make a suggestion as far as personal branding goes? I’m a firm believer in using a profile pic. You can set one up at using the email address that you comment with and the URL of your site. Also, are you on Twitter? When readers (like you) contribute to the conversation, I’ll often follow you (if you’ve left your Twitter ID with the comment).

      BTW – Thanks for letting me know how you found my post! I am always interested in knowing how someone came to my blog. My SEO must be working. 🙂
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Tips You Should Know When You Start BloggingMy Profile

  2. Hi Bindhurani,
    Since we’re connected on both LinkedIn and Twitter, I definitely recognize your profile picture. So, when you mentioned having a different picture on your Facebook page, I switched over to FB to see if we’re connected there and we’re not. You have nearly 400 subscribers. Do you use that page to promote your blog or do you keep it personal? (My thinking is that if you don’t want to brand your FB page to promote your blog, you could create a FB page for your business.)
    Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Basic Steps to Better Blogging, Better Branding and More BusinessMy Profile

  3. Social media sites are the best way to promote your brand,your product and services online.but you should promote it in a right direction and in a targeted audience.once you make a brand yourself in a online marketing,people easily trust on you and your product,services.

    1. Hi John,
      Building trust on social media sites is an effective method of promoting your brand. Your mention of reaching a targeted audience is good advice. Marketing online is very similar to marketing face to face. We need to know who our potential customers and clients are first. Then, we can concentrate on building our online presence on the social networking sites where they are the most active.

      Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are Your Website Visitors Sticking Around Or Bailing Out?My Profile

  4. Good discussion, Sherryl. I had to confront this very issue recently when I decided to drop my company page from Google+ and use my personal brand page. I joined G+ before they had company pages and I didn’t want to have to populate two streams with content. I checked with the experts and you are unable to move all your posts and circles from your personal account to your company account on G+. Same with LinkedIn. I’m using my personal account and not starting a company account. I do have name recognition within my geographic area which is where I mainly conduct my business. So my personal brand is more recognizable than my company brand. Surprisingly, though, my second largest source of traffic for my blog is direct traffic where people need to type in the company name — although they might have started a started a search of my personal name and then clicked on the blog when it came up. Sorry for the rambling answer, but it’s not an easy choice to make.

    1. Hi Jeannette,
      Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to you. It isn’t an easy choice to make at all. I think for a lot of us, as we build awareness, we become synonymous with our brand. So, even though, we may be identified with our business, people get to know (and relate to) us. That’s why, regardless of the username that we select, I strongly believe that for most of us, we should use a profile pic and not a logo for our Gravatar. There are people who advocate for using a graphic but unless we have that name recognition (like Dell), I recommend keeping it personal.

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this. (I didn’t find your answer rambling at all.)
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Does Twitter Drive Traffic to Your Website Blog?My Profile

      1. Sherryl — I couldn’t agree more that entrepreneurs should use their own image and not a logo or other avatar. People want to see the face behind the company.

  5. I think you pushed her in the right direction. You broke it down so she could decide which path to take. In my opinion, it seemed more appropriate to go with a username more focused on her company. It’s a slippery slope in naming your social media outlets, but in the end the brand should supersede. Unless you’re a Tony Robbins or Martha Stewart, in which case you ARE your brand.

    1. Hi Dennis,
      Martha Stewart is a great example of being the brand. As a graphic designer, you chose to brand yourself. I think the key for Melinda is that she is building a business and marketing it in a specific niche. Creating a social media profile that identifies her business could be an asset in the future.

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this. I haven’t been over to visit your blog for a while. I’m due.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media StrategyMy Profile

    2. I’m with you, Dennis! Also, I think that people are becoming more comfortable with following and interacting with brands on social media than they were a year ago. So the brand name should work just fine as long as there’s engagement there. 🙂

  6. In regard to breaking the Twitter TOS vs. having multiple presences for business/personal/product, what about retweeting the posts from one account to another? I saw this in use just today, and it seems that that might be a way to stay within the TOS, as long as retweets were not the only thing coming through any of the accounts.


    1. It’s a little bit confusing but in the correspondence that Ana Hoffman received from Twitter, it listed “The following behaviors are violations of the Twitter Rules:” and one of the reasons given was “Cross-posting Tweets or links across accounts”. That could potentially be interpreted as RT’ing tweets from a second account that you own. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.

      Ana is not the only person who had their account deleted. I’ve heard from several bloggers who had their accounts suspended or deleted. (I have not read of anyone who has had their account restored. If anyone knows of someone who has, I’d be interested in hearing about it.)
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..3 Steps to Develop a Branding Strategy for Social MediaMy Profile

  7. I’m not sure about having your business name as your user name in social media coz I would really like some personalization even in my business account.

  8. Hi Sherryl,

    Very interesting question. When I started my blog, I created my own twitter id @blogaks. It sounded kind of funny but it stuck and is serving me well. Even though I want to continue my blog as business, it is important to start with personal brand. If the personal brand is trusted then it is easy to build a corporate brand. For example if tomorrow I launch a business based on my blog ( or even outside it), I tell all my followers about it to follow it and I hope that they will.
    The problem for a small business if they use an impersonal business id could be that they will find it difficult to get a good recall value. When you business is small , you talk on a person to person level and talking to a company is not desirable. Of course on company website you may have a different handle but at that stage you = your business.
    I would recommend her to have a personal id and a company id. Initially she may build her community and then her company’s community. Reverse may be difficult. My 2 cents 🙂

    1. Hi Ashvini,
      I think it’s a really good idea for everyone to reserve a twitter username with their personal ID even if they have decided on a username that represents their company/product or service. If time doesn’t allow you to maintain a presence on both accounts, just concentrate on one. On our LinkedIn discussion, I cautioned people about duplicating their tweets when they have multiple accounts. Twitter has deleted accounts for violating the TOS. (Ana Hoffman wrote an excellent post on her experience with this and I left a link to her post below in my reply to Jack.) Thanks for sharing your insight with us.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Twitter User ID Part of Your Brand?My Profile

  9. I have been thinking about this topic a lot since I first posted that question to Sherryl on LinkedIn. I have also enjoyed the comments here on this blog. It seems to me, that an important question to answer when deciding what to brand is what truly are you selling? In the case of a writer, a website designer, and author, etc, the product is actually that person as an expert. In other cases, the company or product needs to be able to stand alone, independent of any single expert. A good example is Apple. While some people think of Steve Jobs and Apple as synonymous, many of us do not. If Apple had not done such an amazing job (no pun intended) branding their company name and products, it would be difficult for the company to continue now that Steve Jobs himself is no longer with us.

    Years ago, when I was a childbirth educator and doula, I would not have hesitated to brand myself, and in fact tried to do so within our local market. Now that I am developing a healthy pregnancy app and related services, I see the product and company as bigger than just me as an expert. It has to be bigger – there is no way that one person can keep up with everything happening in prenatal care and birth for long. Additionally, the nature of our services will be to encourage a community, which will need a community of experts to help support it, not just me. 🙂 It seems to me that at this point, it is important to not only continue to establish myself as an expert, but to focus on the brand recognition of the product (and the associated line which will hopefully follow) while maintaining connection with the true people behind it.

    Thank you all again for the great discussion!

    1. Thanks Melinda. Apple and Steve Jobs are great branding examples.

      Good luck with your new endeavor. It sounds like you have a solid long term strategy. Let me know what online presence you decide upon and I’ll follow you. (Feel free to come back here and reply with a link to your new site (in the CommentLuv link) when you’re ready to promote it.)
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do you Brand Yourself, Your Company, or Your Product on Social Media Sites?My Profile

  10. Hi Sherryl,

    Well getting more visitors will eventually lead to more income for your blog on long term basis. You will likely achieve better PR, better keyword rankings, and have more advertising opportunities. Further more your blog will last longer when you get consistent traffic. All of these will lead to a better, more productive, and higher income generating blog.


  11. very interesting post i really enjoyed reading it and i thank you for sharing it with us, i am sure this will help a lot of people, great post.

  12. Hi Sherryl
    I think it depends on the business you do. In my case I have a work from home business and for me it best works with my name. If you have a business which is related mor to a product or you have a specific brand name for your company then I aggree that it is the best thing to use a similar or the same name in social media.
    Bruno Buergi recently posted..The Power of MastermindMy Profile

    1. Hi Bruno,
      Do you have any tips to share on how someone who is building their business based on their name can build awareness? I chose to not use my name as my business name. Part of my reasoning is that (because my first name is not the most common spelling), there could be confusion around it. When I went to your site, I found the spelling of your name to be unfamiliar. (This could partly be based because you’re in Switzerland and I’m in the USA.) Do you ever find it challenging to explain the spelling of your website URL?
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..3 Steps to Develop a Branding Strategy for Social MediaMy Profile

      1. Hi Sherryl
        Until now I never had a problem to explain someone my name. Maybe people have more difficulties to remember my name at the beginning, but I think over time people will remember my name. Once a colleague from England told me also to register domain that are close to my name and redirect it to the main site.
        My online mentors told me always to use the real name for an authority site and build it as a brand. When I search in the Internet, so my name is in the English world unique. In Switzerland there is an other Bruno Buergi (a photographer and he has the domain but he is only in Switzerland active.
        Bruno Buergi recently posted..The Power of MastermindMy Profile

        1. Hi Bruno,
          I think we have taken two different approaches to creating authority sites and they both can work. I’ll never know if I should have created this site under my name but my site shows up if someone searches for me. (I think including my name in the title tag may help with this.) Thanks for sharing your insights with us. It’s always good to hear someone else’s thought process .

  13. “Does Your Social Media Username Represents Your Brand?”
    Yes in my opinion it does represent your brand. If I go and create or use an account with my simple username, a really valuable resource, my social media username will be tied to a nickname or a real name. Who can relate to a real person’s name? The customer of a hair salon, a customer of a butcher-shop or a patient of a doctor. So you see that niches without a specific product can use a real name as a social media username.
    I do not believe that a brand that makes tangible products can or should use a name as the above niches. They should use their brand name.
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for weighing in on this Jim. (This is exactly the kind of feedback that I was hoping for.) I think someone like the owner of a hair salon should brand the name of the salon while an author may be best off branding themselves. Whereas, a consultant who is well known and has name recognition could easily get away with branding their name, one who is relatively unknown may elect to brand a name for their business/practice. Branding is critical to the success of a business and is definitely a decision that has to be made strategically.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Utilizing Social Media to Build Brand Awareness and AuthorityMy Profile

  14. Very Informational Post, and in reply of your answer, Yes I do. I do branding of my self and as well my company. Social medias are the great platform which gives a wonderful opportunity for branding among the various types of people.
    Brain recently posted..HTML5-Something About The Latest TagsMy Profile

  15. Sometimes it’s your username and sometimes it’s business name. If it’s a small business I feel username holds more brand potential than a business. If there’s an already established brand name for a business, using that name is good.

    1. That’s a good point George. If you already have an established brand, it makes sense to use a matching username. That’s the reason that I often recommend reserving multiple usernames. I don’t recommend using them, just reserving them to prevent someone else from either squatting on it (to prevent you from having it, possibly in hopes of selling it in the future) or from setting up a competitive site in hopes of diverting your traffic for profit.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Twitter User ID Part of Your Brand?My Profile

  16. Great article Sherryl! Agree with you completely that if you have a business the best option is to have a username that can be used by the new owners if you sell your business.

    If you are branding yourself, however, the best option in my opinion is to use your name. Read somewhere how much the URL for my blog would be worth if I sold it, but who would buy my personal brand? Pity since it was quite valuable:-)
    Catarina recently posted..Tough times never last – But tough people doMy Profile

  17. You gave an excellent answer to her question Sherryl especially the thinking ahead. I think if you are at the beginning of the process it is better to use or an overall brand that your products or services will be under as it doesn’t cutoff options that using your own name does.
    Susan Oakes recently posted..One Simple Difference, One Huge AdvantageMy Profile

    1. Susan, Thanks so much for letting me know that you thought I was on the mark with my answer to Melinda. (I was really hoping that you would drop by and weigh in on this.)

  18. From my own experience, it’s easier to improve results across many social media networks if we use the same user name, but adapt the strategies. The main advantage is that I focus all my work in building a brand, by targeting diverse potential customers. On Pinterest I focus on delivering quality images, while on Twitter I try to interact with my readers and with experts in my niche.

    1. Hi Jack,
      I think sticking to one username has its merits. I totally understand people setting up multiple Twitter accounts but there is an inherent risk in doing that. In addition to the obvious time that’s needed to manage them, some Twitter accounts have been shut down for TOS violations. Ana Hoffman wrote an excellent post on her experience with this. If anyone is interested, they can read about it here:
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..3 Steps to Develop a Branding Strategy for Social MediaMy Profile

  19. Hi
    I so agree with your view that the Twitter account could be seen as an asset. I mean litigation has already begun on who owns the Tiwtter account – the employee or the employer. So for entrepreneurs it makes sense to have a business name attached to Twitter, if they are using this account to reach out to potential and existing customers. Just like customer pipe-line and customer lists have a value so could the Twitter account.
    As I don’t use Twitter, I am only wondering out aloud whether a business name would attract a following……Hmmmmmm.

    1. Hi Lubna,
      Litigation between employees and employers over a Twitter account is a great example of the value of a Twitter account to a business! Thanks for sharing that.

      This is a little off topic but something that I did when I created my @keepupweb Twitter account was to also reserve the domain name. I set up a 301 redirect to this site and forgot about it. I have no idea if it drives any traffic. (I couldn’t find an easy way to analyze it in Google Analytics and I really wasn’t that motivated to pursue it.) I figured it couldn’t hurt to have the extra domain. (Other people have told me they like the idea. So, I thought I’d mention it again here.)
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Twitter User ID Part of Your Brand?My Profile

  20. Hi Sherryl

    I’m suprised it didn’t bring in more conversation also.

    I agree, you have to focus on what the longer term objectives are for the business.
    People can feel just as strongly about “brands” as individuals, depending on the value that is being offered and how they foster their community. You can definitely build a case for either option.

    I don’t know why the whole relationship point of view seems to be attached to social media alone. Business in its entirety is about relationships period.

    Social media is just a medium for the delivery and reinforcement of your brand values and awareness. Pick the best strategy to align with your business objectives.

    1. Jackie,
      You’ve brought up some great points. I agree that we can be loyal and feel connected to a brand. I also agree that relationships are built (and destroyed) by everything we do. I think the spotlight that social media casts on our online actions sometimes overshadows what we’re doing face-to-face. Everyone remember the story of Dave Carroll, (the disgruntled passenger who rebelled against United Airlines after his guitar was damaged by their baggage handlers)? That YouTube video quickly went viral and became a PR nightmare for the airline. That should serve as a reminder that our online and offline reputations are not that separate after all.

      As always, thanks so much for dropping by and joining us!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Balance Traditional and Social Marketing StrategiesMy Profile

  21. Excellent post Sherryl! I make sure to use brand my clients name in every social
    media sites. Because social media has now been a bridge between the actual consumers and the companies. It is a great place to reach your target market.

  22. I could do a better job of this and have been making an effort in that area. That said, I have a question for you. I try to use my logo on all my SM accounts. Sometimes my account name is my name and other times it is my blog title or URL. Should they be all the same?
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Flowers For Mother’s DayMy Profile

      1. My user name is either SusanPCooper or Findingourwaynow. I general use my logo but at time my profile picture. I have two Gravatar set ups at the moment.

        1. Hi Susan,
          Ok, here are my thoughts. The Twitter account that I found when I searched on FindingOurWayNow is actually @Cooperfown. (That must be because FindingOurWayNow is one character too many for a Twitter username.) You have one tweet and one follower on that account. I personally wouldn’t use that account. (I wouldn’t delete it either. As far as I know, it’s not doing any harm.)

          Your bio on your blog says that you’re an artist and a writer. So, I think you are on the right track branding yourself. You already have a healthy number of followers on your @SusanPCooper account. If I were you, I would continue growing that account.
          Sherryl Perry recently posted..Utilizing Social Media to Build Brand Awareness and AuthorityMy Profile

  23. This is a great question and one I wish I had contemplated more seriously when I started my business. My user names vary in part due to the number of characters allowed by twitter. I might have done things differently had I known.

    I like the idea of branding a business instead of a personal identity. Perhaps it is my lack of understanding on how best to navigate social media…. but what I have found is that following Facebook rules muddled branding a business. They required us to register personally before allowing us to set up a page. Because consumers / colleagues aren’t always sure which one to search for they might end up on the personal page instead of the business page. I for one like to keep them separate.

    1. Hi Keyuri,
      Facebook certainly did muddle things for businesses. It was especially difficult in the beginning. I ended up with a personal FB account that I share business related content on and I use lists to manage what I see. Of course, my friends and family see all the business related content that I post but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. On the other hand, they sort of know what I do and I pop into their mind when they hear of someone who is trying to build a presence online. I do get referrals from the hodge-podge that I call my personal FB page. 🙂

      I really like your Twitter handle because it communicates what it is you do. It would be nice if it more closely related to your domain name but I hear you about the limitations on usernames. We all run into the same issue. Thanks for weighing in on this.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Utilizing Social Media to Build Brand Awareness and AuthorityMy Profile

  24. Hi Sherryl,
    in My point of view I would say, it’s always better to use the Company’s name and under that try to attach the product service in natural way! It could be like yourcompany-the Services! But always making it simple with just the company name will be enough! Thanks

  25. I agree – Normally one don’t think of these type of things from the start, that’s why one needs to do a lot of research on proven Social Media Marketing Campaigns and learn as much as possible before starting. Often once one has made an account and started populating the web with information it is hard to get rid of all the information stored in the deep web if you so ever wanted to close the account.

    Thanks for the great article, Was worth a read. Keep up the great posts.

  26. I believe it’s always better to brand yourself. Social media is about making connections and it’s pretty hard to connect to a logo.

    Personally I would never brand a product or company.

    1. Hi Micah,
      I think there’s reasons to brand a company or an idea. I think of “keeping up with the web” being somewhat conceptual. I didn’t want to build a brand entirely around myself because I don’t want to be the product. On the other hand, I want to be very recognizable as being the brand. At the same time, in the future, other bloggers could represent the keepupweb brand. Some day, if I were to get famous and someone was interested in the keepupweb brand, I could easily package the good will that I’ve built to a new face. (That’s my reasoning anyways.)
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Twitter User ID Part of Your Brand?My Profile

  27. Hi Sherryl: This is a good question, and one that everyone should give serious thought to. As we work together, you know that I started my social media life as “wizardofwords” so I used that moniker on my 1st blog and on Twitter. I’ve since changed the blog to my name, but kept the “wizardofwords” on the banner for continuity. But now that I’ve got close to 6K followers on Twitter, I don’t want to shake things up there. I think most people know me as the wizardofwords, but now that we’ve done a good job in revamping my writer’s blog, my name is becoming as well known as my moniker.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..just what is a friend?My Profile

  28. Sometimes! I think it’s important to use social media sites to the best of your ability whether that be personal or business wise!

    1. Hi Marie, Sometimes, it’s hard to keep our personal and business profiles separate. I know a few people who have a personal Facebook page where they will not accept friend requests unless they have a personal connection with you. On the other hand, if you mix business and pleasure, it’s important to keep in mind not to share too much. I’d hate to lose a potential client because I shared too much info in a conversation on FB.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Is Your Twitter User ID Part of Your Brand?My Profile

  29. Social Media does represent your brand but on SM people see you as your brand and your products are just that – what you sell. SM allows me to have relationships and it is those relationships that allow me to decide to buy the products. People buy from people and as we have been badly burnt by corporations and faceless gits ripping us off, we want to deal with PEOPLE. Trust a brand anymore is getting to be tough, trust a person, cautiously

    1. The fact that people buy from people they trust is an excellent point Roberta (unless you’re competing mainly on price). I believe that in building a brand that it’s also important to not tie it to closely to one person (unless we are the product/service such as an artist, performer, writer etc.) For example, when I think of Apple computer, I picture the logo and the wealth of products while at the same time, I think of Steve Jobs. Now, that’s branding!

      Thanks for getting our discussion started Roberta. 🙂
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do You Have to Be Starbucks to Need a Logo?My Profile

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