I am reminded of a post when I first started blogging, Social Networking, the Creeps, and Learning, when an Extension educator asked me "Do you use your real name when you sign up on Twitter?"
My answer is yes, for personal/professional social media accounts.(YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, Friendfeed, Twitter, as examples).
How do people know to engage with you if they don't know your name or something about you? I use aafromaa for a user name which is slightly shorter than Anne Adrian. In my opinion, creating a short user name is important, particularly in Twitter. I definitely use my real name in profile descriptions.
Imagine you are at a cocktail party, a conference, or a business meeting, sitting by someone who you do not know. You reach your hand out to shake hers and say your name. "Hi I am (fill in the blank)." The other person extends her hand, but says only "Hi." What do you think when she does not state her name?
I don't know about you, but my immediate reaction is that this person is trying to hide something or simply does not want to talk with me. (Honestly, I wonder why.)
Twitter and other social media tools are about engagement and about people who we can learn, enjoy, and interact.
For people to know who you are, provide your real name and something that helps others identify you. If you are using Twitter for professional use, indicate your organization (for me that is Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University).
In your profile, indicate your interest or expertise area and a web page to give them a chance to check out your thoughts, your organization, or find out more about you.
When I am deciding who to follow, knowing who you are is very important. Because I am part of larger organizations of Cooperative Extension and Auburn University, I will follow anyone who indicates that is their organization is either of these two. In Twitter, I will follow anyone I personally know. If you don't use your real name, how will I know to follow you?
I will also follow anyone who indicates in their profile, their tweets, or their web link similar interests.
Your personal and professional credibility happens over time, based on your ideas, thoughts, links, engagement, and transparency.