The idea for this post was spawned by a recent article on HybridDomainer.com about Twitter usernames and how the author feels there should be some sort of marketplace for unused handles or aftermarket for resale.
I happen to disagree with Ray on the stance that Twitter should sell usernames and I am glad they don’t. Twitter’s business model, unlike domain registrars, is not to monetize usernames.
Twitter has a very simple statement on its policy of username abuse and resale. Simply put, unless there is some serious trademark infringement going on, they are not going to spend time trying to connect the right username with the end user. Also, it is against Twitter’s TOS to buy or sell usernames. Sure, there are people out there buying and selling Twitter handles, it happens all the time but it is not a legitimate practice and these sales are never reported.
What I really want to talk about is the strategy of reserving a Twitter handle to match domain names that you own. Before I go any further let’s examine the rules set forth by Twitter about ‘username squatting’. From the Twitter help center:
- Username Squatting: You may not engage in username squatting. Accounts that are inactive for more than 6 months may also be removed without further notice. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be username squatting are:
- the number of accounts created
- creating accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names
- creating accounts for the purpose of selling those accounts
- using feeds of third-party content to update and maintain accounts under the names of those third parties
To clarify, I don’t think reserving a Twitter username would be important for every or even most types of domain names and I’m not telling readers to go out and reserve every relevant Twitter username they can think of. However, if you have some stellar brandable or short domains, don’t you think it would be smart to reserve the exact match @Twitter handle? Looking at the rules above, I see nothing wrong with this practice. Some may argue that this is breaking the rule “creating accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names” I think it’s more about adding value to your idea (domain name). Keeping a Twitter account active once every six months, that should be easy enough.
Having the exact Twitter @username to compliment your domain could be a strong selling point. An example, a buyer is looking for a good .com to brand his new product, his budget is say $10k. Of course, social media will be an important aspect of launching this new brand. The buyer narrows down their selection to three .com names. While weighing the options trying to decide on the best possibility the buyer remembers only one seller mentioned that included with the sale is the exact match Twitter handle as the domain being offered. The registrants of the other domains in consideration do not control the Twitter handle that match their .coms. May not always be true but I think the seller who has the Twitter username to match the domain has the upper hand. Agree?
I would only consider doing this for brandable/short names for two reasons 1) All the best generic Twitter handles were reserved early on. 2) Iyou have a longtail domain for your website it’s probably better to find a shorter solution for a Twitter username using an acronym. Anyway, while it may be time consuming, I think it is worth it in some instances to nab a corresponding Twitter username if available.
I’ve gone ahead and reserved a few to match some of my domains, for example earlier this year I bought LimeBet.com and took @limebet as soon as I got the domain (actually started having fun with this Twitter account during the WSOP). I also have the domain MMJApp.com and reserved @mmjapp – I have MedicalMarijuanaApp.com too but didn’t even think to reserve that handle for obvious reasons. One other example is zTLD.com, I was happy (and surprised ) to see that @ztld was still available. I have a other LLLL.coms but haven’t bothered looking to see if the corresponding Twitter handles are available (most good @LLLL’s are gone anyway). I was interested in zTLD because I feel it would make a good brand in the domain space.
My point is that I think you should take a glance at your portfolio, while you’re looking through it you’ll probably know right away which domains you will want to have the matching the Twitter username for. Of course, if your portfolio is full of premium generic domains you’re not going to get the Twitter username and you probably aren’t worried about who has it. Having matching Twitter usernames may come in handy some day, you can’t sell them but there is nothing in the TOS that says you can’t reserve them to add value to your idea and eventually use them as a bargaining chip.