There are only so many first name-last name combinations.
You may even have two friends or colleagues with the exact same name. So, what to do when you’re trying to find someone’s Twitter handle and you’re not sure how to discern between @John_Smith, @JohnSmith, and @JSmith?
Below, five tips for making sure you don’t commit a case of Twitter mistaken identity.
1. Save your tweet as a draft and exit. Don’t rely on Twitter’s suggestions for accounts as you start typing the @ sign and the first few letters of someone’s name. There’s no way to tell just from the list that pops up whether or not that’s the correct Bob Logan that you’re looking for. Save the tweet you’re working on and explore each suggested account further.
2. Head to Google and type in “Twitter [First name Last name].. If nothing helpful comes up, you can also try just searching for the name and checking out any blogs or websites the person writes for or is featured on.
3. Refer to bios. Many people will lay claim in their Twitter bio to occupations or credits of note that will help you easily identify the correct person you’re searching for. If not, check out the URL linked to in the bio, and the designated city. If you know where the person you’re interested in is located, you can use geography to narrow down to the right account.
4. Check out the accounts’ followers. If you’re examining a few different Twitter accounts to figure out which is the one you’re actually looking for, take a look at who each person is following. That will be a huge indicator as to what field that individual is in, and what they’re interested in.
5. Search Twitter’s public profile directory. Twitter actually maintains a comprehensive directory of every single Twitter user with a public account, listed by name (not Twitter handle). Browse to the name you’re looking for, then you can compare among all the options for that name to see side-by-side who might be your target.
Worse comes to worst, you @ mention the wrong person and have a “d’oh” moment when they either alert you to that fact or you realize belatedly. But it’s best to do your research.
And there’s this, of course: not everyone is even on Twitter. So you may come up empty-handed by realizing none of those John Smiths is the John Smith you seek.
Have you ever mistakenly tweeted at the wrong person before?
(Multiple women image via Shutterstock.)