I'm losing count of the number of my fellow dog and cat writers, and almost all my veterinarian friends and colleagues, who have recently started using social media and signed up on Twitter and even Facebook with screennames instead of their professional names.
I have one single heartfelt piece of advice for you all: Don't.
Tweeting about your new book deal or column as ZiggysMom or DogGuru or whatever is not clever and it doesn't create "buzz" and it's not thinking outside the box. It's going to hurt you.
Let's just start with the most obvious way it hurts you: Unless your books or columns are authored by ZiggysMom, or your business card reads "DogGuru DVM," the connection between your cute username and your professional work is going to be lost for the vast majority of people.
If someone is looking for you in social media, they aren't going to magically know your screen name. They'll know your real name. That's how they'll look for you, and how they'll know they've found you.
Blogging or using social media (which is a form of blogging) under a screename is also seen as extremely unprofessional.
Now, there was a time when using a screen name was the norm. In fact, some writers and pundits became as well or even better-known by their screen names as their real names.
But this is not AOL in 1993. Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook exist to facilitate real life and professional networking, and they're based on the premise that people are who they say they are and do what they say they do. Which, if you're a professional writer, is pretty critical.
Furthermore, some networks require you to participate in your real name. Facebook will actually delete a profile if it's not created by, and in the real name of, a real person. (Yes, I'm sorry -- your dog, like your animal shelter, rescue group or radio program, can have a fan page, but not a profile, on Facebook.)
You also look unprofessional because you're not doing it right -- in other words, you're not participating in the way that's the norm in your field. It makes you stand out, and not in a good way. It makes you look out of touch and slightly hokey.
So if you only recently created a social media account in a screen name, consider dumping it and starting over with your professional name, the one that's on your byline or the spine of your books, or your veterinary license. The one people will Google when they want to check out your references and your credibility and your connections.