TL;DR. A good username on social media is short, memorable and matches your business name and website. Check whether or not a social media username is available for your business using free name-checking websites. If it’s not free, there are plenty of options for you to consider as a work-around.
In a previous blog post, I talked about why having the same usernames on all social media is advisable for your business. This time, I’ll explain how to check if a social media name is available – and what to do if it’s not.
First, though, what’s the aim? What would an ideal situation look like when it comes to social media names for a business? Here’s the perfect outcome:
You have the same handle/username across all social media for your business
The social media handles match your business name
The name is the same as your domain name (that’s your website address)
The name would be easy to remember (so avoid any random numbers in there)
It is easy to spell – no words that sound the same but have different spellings, e.g. write/right
It’s as short as possible (not least because there are length restrictions on some social media platforms – Twitter, I’m looking at you, with your 15 character limit)
It indicates to your target audience what it is your business is all about, e.g. menopause coach or grief counsellor
That’s a long list of ideal outcomes, I know. How do you achieve that? And what if you can’t?
The best and most straightforward way to ensure an ideal situation is at the outset when you’re choosing your brand name. When I decided on my business name would be Oh My Word Social Media, I checked the domain was available and, at the same time, that the social media handles were untaken.
That means choosing your username across every social media platform in conjunction with your website address and business name. All three happen together.
It makes sense to take that approach because your brand identity is everywhere. Your brand identity goes beyond a domain name; social media is just as important. It matters because social media is likely to be essential in communication for your business, and it’s how you get your brand in front of prospective clients. As this article from Brandfolder explains, it is essential that everything matches.
How to check if a social media name is available for your business
So, how does that work on a practical level? What steps should you take to check the social media name you want is available for your business?
There are a number of tools that can help you. They make it much faster to check a name across multiple social media platforms in one go. I’ve used both www.namecheckr,com and www.namechk.com and recommend both. They do the same job. They tell you instantly if all your handles/usernames are available and, at the same time, whether the domain names are also free. This saves you the agony of getting yourself sorted on Facebook and Instagram only to find the handle is unavailable on Twitter.
They’re easy to use. Put the name in at the top.
Then, when you hit search, it displays where that name is available.
Where you see red, it’s unavailable. Green means it’s free.
If you’re at the stage of trying to think of a business name, it can feel like you’re drawing blanks after a while. You could try seeking inspiration from artificial intelligence. Try a free social media handle generator for ideas. There are plenty of free business name generators online that can help, such as Jimpix or Business Name Generator. As you find names you like, check they are available on a different window using namecheckr.
What if you have already chosen your business name and
domain, but the social media handles are unavailable?
Don’t worry. You’re in good company. Given the explosion in social media users, it’s almost the norm now to find your preferred choice is taken.
You can use the same process described above if you have already chosen your business name and had the domain name for some time.
Whilst the aim is to get an exact match, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t. This article from Smart Insights says an exact match is not needed. You get as close as you can.
If you find you can get the same social media handle secured on most platforms, but it’s taken on one, you could drop the user a line to ask if they’d release it. It’s a long shot but worth a go. Clearly, that won’t work if the account is in use. But social media is filled with accounts that were set up and then abandoned.
In the event this doesn’t work, find handles that are close and are available. You can find alternatives to your first choice without sacrificing clarity.
What to avoid
First, some approaches to avoid as you go about finding a suitable alternative:
Avoid numbers in the social handle unless of course it is part of your business name. Numbers, especially at the end of a social media handle, give the impression that your first choice was unavailable so you shoved some digits on the end. It doesn’t look professional. Better to avoid it.
Avoid underscores whenever possible. They can be hard to spot in links and are trickier to type on a smartphone so people will get it wrong. That’s frustrating and most people will give up.
Avoid the repetition of letters or numbers in a row. If you have to count them, there is a good chance people will make mistakes.
So, that’s what to avoid. What alternatives should you consider instead?
What to do instead
Here are some suggestions together with examples.
Any words that allow you to use your brand name without making it hard to remember. Examples are @helloYourBiz like this:
You could consider using the initials of your location if that’s appropriate. It might look like @YourBizUK or @YourBizIRL
You could make it even more local. Based in London? Add LDN so @YourBizLDN.
Adding HQ so @YourBizHQ. This won’t be the right approach for everyone, and it may be that, as a coach, it feels too corporate. But it’s an option to consider.
Another option to consider is including what you do in the handle, so it reads @YourNameYourJob, like this:
Or you could do it the other way around with @YourJobYourName like this:
Another option is to add the word ‘ask’ – @askYourBiz may be something to think about. As a coach, that can work well.
If your name is your business, then capitalise on your personal brand by adding a title, e.g. @MsYourBiz or @MrYourBiz. If you have a title that sets you apart then use that:
Likewise, if your name is the business, then you could shorten it. Say your name is Victoria, use Vicky or Vic. Or add in any middle initials to differentiate, e.g. @VictoriaWBiz
Whichever way you choose to do it, get as close as you can to all social media and domain names matching. After all, It makes life easier for your prospective clients to find and hire you. But if perfection is out of reach, go with the next best thing. Done is better than perfect, after all.
Main image by ra2studio on despositphotos.com
Need more help?
I can support you with a bespoke package and work one-to-one with you. Check out my services here. On a budget? Take a look at Sixty Second Social. It’s tailor-made for coaches, counsellors, psychotherapists, and anyone working in the mental health sphere, who have a tight marketing budget. It provides you with fresh content, curated from around the globe, each month. For £27 per month, you get 35 links to relevant articles, together with the ready-written posts. All you have to do is upload it. Then, in under 30 minutes each month – or 60 seconds a day, hence the name – you’ll schedule content on your social media accounts for the month ahead. Or, if you prefer, I can do it for you, saving you even more time.