There is a tale from China about two young brothers. The younger brother’s name was Chang. But the older brother, well, he had a very very long name, as was the custom. His full name was Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo. Now, even though they had been told not to, the two little boys loved playing near a well, which was very deep and therefore very dangerous. One day, an awful thing happened, and Chang fell into the well.
Are you familiar with this story? When I was a kid, my mom would read the 1968 version of the tale to my brother and me (this charming puppet show uses as a script that version of the story). The moral of the story is that having a super-long name that takes so long to say can actually be very detrimental. When Tikki Tikki Tembo falls into the well, it takes so long for everyone to say his name as they look for help that he very nearly drowns (in some versions he does drown). On the other hand, Chang gets saved very quickly because his name is so short.
What can this possibly have to do with Social Media?
You might not drown in water, but you could drown in the crowd
One thing you always hear about when you cruise the Social Media information channels is that you are competing against tons and tons of people. You’re not just competing in the business sense, either. You’re competing for people’s memory cells. You’re competing for people’s ever decreasing attention span. You are competing for the opportunity to really and truly engage with someone.
Now, let’s say that one the one hand you have someone who decides to simply use their actual name as their Twitter handle. They use their name across the board – for Facebook, for their blog, for LinkedIn, and for forums they participate in. Pretty soon, you get to know that person via their name, just like you would if you were attending a class with them in real life. If the name is easy to remember and/or reasonably short, you’ll have an even easier time remembering who that person is, right? That person is like Chang in the story. If they need help or a retweet or anything else, you have their name right on your finger tips.
Now, let’s look at the person comparable to Tikki Tikki Tembo. This person may:
• Have a super long Twitter handle
• Have a super long Twitter handle that has nothing (seemingly) to do with their name and/or business
• Have a different and confusing name for each place you encounter them
Are you going to be able to remember that person’s name every time you want to? Are you going to recognize their blog site well enough to then tie it to their Twitter name when you tweet out the post?
Just like Tikki Tikki Tembo, that person’s content may drown before you get a handle on his or her Twitter handle.
How you can be like Chang
Now let’s talk about you. How can you avoid drowning in the Social Media well? Here are some ideas.
• Try to keep your Twitter name short but easy to understand. Remember, when someone retweets you, your name is taking up some of those 140 characters. If you can keep your username short, it will be easier for people to retweet what you are saying. This is not to say that you want a name like 1c. What does that mean?
• Keep your name consistent wherever you go. One of the biggest bummers when you are trying to engage with people is when you can’t tie a blog site to a Twitter account or a Twitter account to someone who wants to friend you on Facebook. A lot of people use their real names and faces on Facebook, but on Twitter the temptation is to use a name like FluffyDog17. Well, if you’ve been talking to me as FluffyDog17 and then try to friend me on Facebook as Joe Smith, how on earth am I going to know that’s you? That makes it hard to engage.
• If you are using Social Media as part of a company or corporation’s effort, have a naming convention. If you are trying to engage people as a brand, let them know that your team is a team. Decide how you all are going to remain individuals but relate to each other on a corporate level. No one should have to struggle to make those connections.
The moral of the story
Just as Tikki Tikki Tembo’s parents realized that endowing the eldest son with a tremendously long name had its disadvantages, you can learn from Social Media naming blunders of the past. Be memorable. Be you. And be memorable and you consistently, wherever you go. It’s a key step to help you engage with other people in the huge Social Media world.
Make sense? Have something to add?
This is post number two in The Engagement Series! If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of these posts, make sure you subscribe. And remember, this series is meant to help you. If you have ideas or questions, let me have them!