You may want to exercise more care when opening social media accounts, selecting social media account names and managing your accounts as you move from position to position in your career.

Caitlin Bird of Charleston’s Post and Courier reports that former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, lost 1.67 million Twitter followers when she left her position as United Nations Ambassador at the end of the year and had to leave a previous personal Twitter account behind.

Haley had been using the Twitter handle, @AmbNikkiHaley during her time as Ambassador, her last tweet being on New Years Eve.

Haley shared as much in personal news and pictures as professional items, if not more. The below personal and professional tweets and retweets represent how adept Haley is at drawing an engaged following through real and authentic sharing. 

But as Haley reported on News Years Day, when she left office she lost that Twitter account, including all the history, pictures and content. 

As Bird reports, the social media cleanup and swap became mandatory during the Obama administration. The rules are intended to keep political appointees from exploiting their social media accounts for personal use after they leave an administration for the private sector.

Haley didn’t lose her Twitter account and all that come with it because she started a new Twitter account for her time as Ambassador. Haley brought an existing Twitter account, @NikkiHaley, chock-full of followers and content, with her.

Haley created this account in 2009 when she was a member of the South Carolina Legislature and continued to use it while Governor and all the way through New Years Eve as Ambassador. An advanced search of the now archived account, by Bird shows tweets dating all the back.

Haley did change the account name to @AmbNikkiHaley when she became Ambassador. All of her followers and content stayed in place. Nothing wrong with this, it’s something we have done with LexBlog accounts.

Haley procured the name for a second account, @NikkiHaley, just last month, presumably when she found out she could not rename her original, @NikkiHaley n/k/a @AmbNikkiHaley, back to @NikkiHaley and keep all of her followers and content.

I get that most legal professionals are not going to find themselves appointed as senior officials in the federal government.

But losing what you’ve started with social media, particularly Twitter, and all of your followers and history is not so far fetched when leaving a position in an organization.

When I shared word of Haley’s story on Twitter, Karen Hasse, a Nebraska Attorney representing public schools and related entities, replied that she saw this as an issue for school employees as well. 

I regularly see lawyers, legal professionals and legal journalists using Twitter account names combining their employer organization or publication name with their own name.

Whether done by changing an original Twitter name when coming into employmenyt like Haley (highly unlikely) or beginning a new Twitter account, the practice makes little, if any sense. It also looks a little amateurish. 

Social media, if you want to increase its efffectiveness, is personal, real and authentic. It’s tough to engage a person who wears the company suit all the time and does not network  in their personal name.

In addition, your name, influence, reputation and following grows over time. They’re yours personally, just like “your name.”

You don’t want to leave any doubt that your account is yours should you leave your organization, anymore than there being a question of who owns your name should you leave. 

Not to worry about Haley recapturing a following. She is asking her new Twitter followers to spread the word of her new Twitter account.

By Thursday evening day, Haley’s revamped Twitter account had amassed more than 300,000 followers, growing by nearly 100,000 followers a day.