Does a name change lose you followers?

UPDATE, June 30: This is really, really interesting: Our old account @Twitter_Tips has GAINED almost the same amount our new account @TweetSmarter has lost—1753 followers as of early June 30. And by “lost” I mean the difference between what our followers would usually have been and what they are (see chart below).

This is a unique situation, because Twitter did us a special favor: They let our old account name continue to exist. All that is there, however, is a tweet saying:

Our name has changed! @Twitter_Tips is now @TweetSmarter. Learn more: http://j.mp/TweetSmarter

So this means that people are following our old account by the hundreds a day without ever checking what it is. People are still continuing to unfollow us as they become confused by the name change, however, so I’ve tweeted a few more times about our name change.

UPDATE, July 11: Our account is gaining followers again (chart below) so it looks like the people following again comfortably outnumber the people unfollowing:

Here’s the original post:


I knew some people would be confused by our name change. I thought I would share some of our experience for anyone considering a similar change. (Why we changed.)

There are a couple of issues in figuring out how much it affects our follower numbers. We get unfollowed and followed a lot every day no matter what. The follow/unfollow numbers have to be taken together to make an educated guess at how much the name change is affecting things.

What’s actually happened to our follower numbers as of June 27:

So, how can we make a guess at what effect the name change has on our followers? With an account as big as ours (nearly 200,000 followers), calculating unfollowers is difficult:

  1. Some will unfollow out of confusion, wondering why this account with a name they never followed before is appearing in their stream.
  2. Others may think the name change means that the tweets will change—we’re not going to do anything differently!—and unfollow for that reason.

And a very important question is: When will the name change stop affecting our unfollowing number? I think it will take the better part of a month for most everyone to take whatever action they are going to take because of our name change.

Will a name change cause fewer people to follow?

Secondly, we have to figure out if we are getting fewer followers because of the name change. Some followers undoubtably follow a new account in part because of it’s name. If our new name was, for example, “BingoStatistics” I would expect fewer new followers :) Of course, a name change could cause you to get MORE new followers.

While there are many accounts that grow at a similar rate to ours that do NOT have “Twitter” in their username, I think in our case we can reasonably expect to get fewer new followers because of not having “Twitter” in our username.

What is the total effect?

I don’t think it’s possible to project the long-term effect in just a few days. It looks like we’ll lose somewhere in the range of <1% of our followers because of the name change though. I’ll update this post in a week or two when it looks like the changes are stabilizing

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