According to marketing resource Oberlo, there exist roughly 4.59 billion users on social media around the world. That goes for all social media sites, by the way.
This tells us that, theoretically, there could also exist 4.59 billion social media handles. Each is unique because it has to be.
If your small business or startup is now trying to make a name for itself on social media, that will inevitably mean selecting a social media handle.
If you’ve been debating which type of social media handle to choose, this article can be a guide for you.
We’ll provide plenty of useful information ahead that will make this all-important decision that much easier.
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What Is a Social Media Handle Anyway? How Is It Different From Your Display Name?
First things first, we want you to be clear on what we mean when we talk about social media handles.
What exactly is a handle? It’s another name for your username.
If you go on Facebook or Twitter right now and look at any account, the name after the @ symbol is their handle.
Now, a handle is not the same as your display name.
Not every social media platform utilizes display names, but for the ones that do, it’s worth taking the time to explain the difference.
A display name is like your debit card. If you bank through Wells Fargo, then you and millions of other people will have a trademark red card.
Your handle is more like your debit card numbers. They’re unique to you.
You can have 20 people or 200 people or even 2,000 people with the same display name but they’re able to be differentiated by their handles. Those handles, as you’ll recall, must be unique.
Once someone alights upon a social media handle they really like, they’re typically reluctant to change it or give it up.
After all, when they do, it enters the social media black hole where someone else who wants that handle can snatch it up in seconds.
You can change your display name on a whim, and many social media users do. Your display name has no bearing on your handle, and it can be the same as someone else’s, so changing it doesn’t carry nearly as much of the same weight.
Creating The Perfect Social Media Handle For Your Business
Keeping in mind that once you choose a handle, it’s one that will likely follow you around for the duration of your time on social media, you want it to be good.
Your handle represents more than a single user as is the case with most social media accounts but an entire company and brand.
Thus, it deserves more time and contemplation to come up with the perfect one.
Here are some pointers that will assist you.
1. Throw as many handle ideas at the wall as you can
When you and the team are really excited about the prospect of coming up with social media handles and are not yet jaded by the experience (that will come), sit down and brainstorm to your heart’s content.
Just write down as many handles as you can.
As you go through this phase, keep in mind these points:
- Your social media handle cannot be shorter than five characters.
- The handle cannot exceed 50 characters.
- You can only use periods, numbers, and letters, no underscores or other special characters.
2. Then see what sticks
Once you have a big, fat list of potential social media handles to choose from, it’s time to come down from your lofty heights and back to reality.
In other words, you need to check the availability of the usernames in question.
You can find a free tool or website for doing just that.
When inputting potential handles, it usually doesn’t matter if you follow the perfect title case. Even if a handle with some uppercase letters is typed in all lowercase letters, if it’s taken, it’s taken.
One by one, you’ll begin crossing off names from the list.
This is the most heartbreaking part of the process, but it’s a necessary part.
3. Simple is okay
There doesn’t always exist the need to think outside of the box when it comes to your handle on social media.
For instance, if yours is a very unique company name, then you can use that name as your handle.
Just check the availability first to double-check that no one else took the handle.
Now, if your company’s name is a common word like Phoenix or something to that effect, then keep reading for more tips still for finding the perfect handle.
4. Think evergreen
Your startup or small business is in its growing stages now. As tempting as it may be to name yourself something that reflects this unique time in your life, we don’t recommend it.
You want to use the same handle across channels, so make sure you secure your username fast on channels like Threads so you can get more followers and retain audience interest.
5. Try to limit punctuation
If a username that you had your heart set on is already taken (we’ll talk more about that shortly), you might have the bright idea to use punctuation.
Now you can have the name you wanted, albeit not in the exact form you were expecting.
We’d tell you to steer away from punctuation if you can help it. Since punctuation doesn’t always display the same way across all social media platforms and devices, if you can avoid using it, that’s ideal.
6. Keep it easy to remember
You don’t have to worry about people being able to pronounce your handle aloud, per se, but you do want a handle that people will remember.
If yours is Phoenix781393213, good luck! No one is going to remember that.
Sure, they could search for the word ‘Phoenix’, but if they don’t remember even a single number after the word, then they’ll never find you.
That’s another reason to eschew punctuation. Your username will be easier to search and thus find.
What If Your Perfect Social Media Handle is Taken?
Since it’s bound to happen, we have to discuss what to do when your ideal social media handle is already in use by someone else.
You can’t make someone give up their username. Instead, you’ll have to modify your handle idea or move away from that idea.
That becomes hard to do if you want your handle to match your company name. Thus, here are some tips for modifying a handle to make it unique. Hopefully, it’s available!
- Add a location after your name, but only if you’re based in or known for a specific location. For instance, your username could be @PhoenixAsia.
- Use the word “try” in front of your company name such as @TryPhoenix. Your handle is like a built-in CTA!
- Rely on your small business domain name as your social media handle, like @Phoenixcom or @Phoenixnet.
- Use “real” in front of your handle to show how you rise above the imitators. As an example, your username could be @RealPhoenix.
- Add HQ for headquarters, but only if it makes sense (like @PhoenixHQ). Even Slack does this!
- Get personal by adding “I am” in front of your desired handle such as @IAmPhoenix.
- When all else fails, put “the” at the start of your handle, like @ThePhoenix.
Crafting the perfect social media handle as a small business or startup owner can be quite daunting. You need to come up with a professional, catchy username that isn’t already taken by about four billion other social media users.
We hope the pointers in this article made it easier for your to narrow it down to the perfect handle for your business.
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