How to change twitter handle and its impact on traffic

Twitter allows you to change the twitter handle (or username) anytime. This option comes on account page (https://twitter.com/settings/account)  as shown below.twitter-change-handleThe new user has to be available for this change and once changed old user can be taken by someone else. Now even though changing twitter username looks like a simple thing to do, here are some thoughts on various pros and cons:

  1. You will get a better looking handle. That is probably the reason you want to change twitter handle.
  2. Tweeter has a unique url for each tweet or status. The old individual tweet url looks like
    http://twitter.com/old_handle/status/308905584705536001
    When someone clicks on this link, twitter redirects it (with HTTP status code 301) to new tweel url http://twitter.com/onew_handle/status/308905584705536001. This does not sound like of much significance as no-one bookmarks twitter status messages or even Google does not index twitter status messages. This may change though in future. Also note that since twitter is redirecting old status tweet to new one, the ID in the above url (after string /status/) is globally unique.
  3. There is no redirect from http://twitter.com/old_handle to http://twitter.com/new_handle. That is slightly bad but not such a big deal. Also note that there may be some traffic impact to your tweeter home page from social media discovery engines like topsy.
  4. In case someone has bookmarked your old handle or has embedded a pointer to your old twitter profile in some widget, that will not work. Widgets on other sites will also not work using old handle.
  5. The followers list remains unaffected by handle change.

So it is better to choose a good twitter handle early and stick to it. But in case you decide to change it later, there does not seem to be any significant side effect.

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