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Shorter Names & Vanity Twitter Profile Names Up For Grabs?

Did you join Twitter thinking that a clever profile name was the way to distinguish yourself? Or perhaps you felt more people would find you if you simply registered with your given name and surname? In both of these instances, you may be like me with a Twitter name that is 10 characters or longer.

Perhaps not realizing at the time, that the shorter character names are the preferred. Why? Because they're easier to remember and they eat up less characters when someone is sending you a lengthy tweet.

One need only turn to the Twitter Troika to know that the shorter profile names with two or three Evan Williams, Biz Stone & Jack DorseyEvan Williams, Biz Stone & Jack Dorseycharacters are the "too cool for school" handles that are coveted today. Evan Williams and Biz Stone knew what they were doing when they settled on @ev and @biz. Jack Dorsey on the other hand felt the need to use up an additional character when he selected @jack.

Other famous 2 character long Twitter accounts are @ie - IE (yes Internet Explorer), @om for Om Malik and twitter.com/f1 for Formula 1.

Back in February, 2009, the 'Twitter Facts' blog noted that all 1 character-long names were currently taken. 6 of the 37 Twitter names (A-Z, 0-9 and underscore) were private Twitter accounts and 4 of those Twitter names were without updates.

Martin BryantMartin BryantMany early users of the service also picked up shorter names (first names and catchy short names) according to Martin Bryant, UK editor at The Next Web. And even if these accounts have become inactive, it's presently not possible to apply for these names. Actually unused account are never deleted, unless an account has breached Twitter's Terms of Service.

That is, until now. Bryant recently sought Twitter out for a comment on this issue and was told that the company plans to release all inactive user-names in the very near future, with a date and time to be determined.

So, similar to when Facebook allowed its users to select a new URL on a prescribed date and time (see "Vanity URL Gold Rush at Facebook"), Twitter is going to do something similar with the release of profile names that may be sitting idle.

So how does one prepare for such a "name grab"?  Well, first off, I would suggest checking out the types of names you are looking for?  And then once found, determine if they have become inactive? This would be an excellent challenge for 3rd Party App developers. If someone could develop an app that could automate bots to comb Twitter's database for specific names and cross-reference with the account's last tweeted date, I think they would have developed an API that a good number of us would be willing to pay for.

However, that endeavor might be for naught, since Twitter might determine that posting the names and conducting an auction might be a better route to take.

In either event, as Bryant indicated in his recent blog, "If you’ve got your eyes on an inactive user-name, sit tight and get ready to pounce when Twitter flicks the switch. There’s likely to be race for the really hot ones."  

You might want to do the research and see if those four(4) 1-character names are still inactive. I am personally very interested in the vanity name "RC" (for obvious reasons) - which as you can see has no followers and is protecting their tweets. Looks like a squatter to me, wouldn't you say?

RC Twitter profileRC Twitter profile

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Ron Callari
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