Across the global stage of social media, your Instagram username (also known as a ‘handle’) is the first key touchpoint between you and your target audience, and the moniker that will represent your brand digitally.
When choosing a username, it's important your handle remains consistent across all social platforms to ensure overall cohesion, optimal searchability, and brand preservation. In this post, we’ll uncover everything to know when launching your professional social handle.
Branding 101: Why Your Social Handle Matters
When establishing your online social presence, branding is absolutely critical. A strong brand identity lays the groundwork for how your digital audience will recognize and perceive you across all platforms. Your brand identity begins with your name, so be strategic when brainstorming options.
Whether you’re a business, influencer, or creator, your social handle should ultimately aim to:
- Inform the public of who you are and what you do.
- Position your brand’s unique offering among the competition.
- Engage existing audiences and discover new segments.
- Solidify your brand story and leave a lasting impression.
Once you select a username and build a following, you will want to stick with that name. So, choosing the right username requires thought and a bit of strategic work on the upfront to achieve the best option that aligns with your brand.
Identifying Instagram Usernames for Businesses
Start with a quick audit of your brand, and answer the following key questions:
- What is your business, and what are you all about?
- What do you offer to the public?
- Do you provide a service or skill, sell a product, etc.?
Gathering this information provides a good contextual basis that will add value to your brainstorming session.
Identifying Instagram Usernames for Influencers
If you’re launching a profile for a persona “brand,” (influencers, public figures, and creators), in addition to the above audit, you’ll also want to establish where you separate between your personal and professional public image. There’s no right or wrong way to approach the differentiation. What matters most is establishing how you’d like to be recognized in the digital space, whether that’s as your “brand,” as the person who exists outside the app, or both.
Our friend Jillian Goltzmann, an editorial writer and lifestyle blogger, maintains two separate Instagram handles to differentiate between her writing/personal life (@jillian_writes) and public image/brand (@cupofcharisma). She shares why she made the distinction between the two:
“Keeping my blog’s Instagram separate from my personal account allows me to tailor my content to my blog’s audience while maintaining a separate place to share life’s less curated moments with family and friends. Separating my accounts allows me to share my passions with two very different audiences.”
Having the separation between the two lets her stay true to both audiences.
“On my personal account, I report on beats that run the gamut, while my blog’s Instagram focuses on a niche I’ve worked on creating over the last six years. I’ve always wanted to stay true to my readership and followers, and separating my accounts allows me to share my passions with two very different audiences.”
Cultivating Your Social Handle
Now that you have an understanding of the more intangible elements that help shape your username, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of cultivating an iconic Instagram handle.
Your Instagram username should simply be the name of your brand or a branded phrase/pun. However, there are some caveats to this rule. In some instances, using just your brand name isn’t always the most feasible option. For example, it’s not uncommon to realize your most coveted username has already been claimed. And, if your brand name happens to be an acronym, too similar to another brand name, challenging to spell, or excessively long, it’s best to explore other options. But don’t be instantly crushed if you can’t land your first pick. There are many ways to concoct the perfect Instagram handle.
Understanding the Basics
Keep the following guidelines and best practices in mind when selecting your Instagram username.
- Usernames should be 30 characters or less and can only be made up of letters, numbers, periods, and underscores. Alternatively, your Instagram profile name can contain special characters, emojis, and different “fonts.”
- Usernames are not case sensitive, i.e., @PLANOLY & @planoly will direct to the same place.
- Whether your brand name is common or abstract, try adding an actionable or descriptive word following or preceding it to prompt users (e.g., @EatVoraciously, @ShopGenara).
- Try to avoid multiple, consecutive underscores, and numbers (unless they're a part of your branding like @1927smores).
- Always choose a username that’s available across all desired social platforms, and utilize the same spelling and spacing on all platforms.
- Brevity and ease of recall are most important when choosing a username. While we’d love to go by @_YourNumber1FaveSocialPlanningApp_, @PLANOLY is definitely easier to tag.
When deciding on a username, use your industry, niche, or skills to help cultivate a memorable Instagram username for your brand. Here are a few templates to try out:
Instagram Handles for Businesses
Travel: @[Brand]Travel, @Visit[Brand], @Book[Travel], @Stay[Brand]
Beauty/Wellness: @[Brand]Beauty, @Live[Brand], @[Brand]Salon
Apparel: @Shop[Brand], @[Brand]Style, @Wear[Brand]
Food/Beverage: @Eat[Brand], @DineAt[Brand], @Drink[Brand]
Instagram Handles for Influencers
General: @[Brand]Official, @Real[Brand], @Just[Brand]
Art/Entertainment: @ListenTo[Brand], @By[Brand], @Play[Brand]
News/Media: @[Brand]Live, @[Brand]Media, @Watch[Brand]
Your new professional Instagram handle is just one ’@’ away, so go forth and choose confidently. And remember, the best username is one that glides right off the keyboard, and effortlessly into content.