So, you’ve decided to take advantage of Instagram’s amazing reach. Your next step is to choose a unique username for your account. Treat this with care, as coming up with an Instagram handle is as crucial as naming your offspring – this is your best chance to make a good first impression on the platform. Not only will potential followers use it to find your brand, but your Instagram handle would also entice them to actually follow you…or move on to the next account. A killer username will open the door to a lot of opportunities and connections.

You can think of it like a domain name for websites. Have you ever wonder why people pay hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars just for a domain name? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Memorable acronyms or short names
  • Common words that can pull double-duty as brand names
  • Premium domains that are exact matches to a specific product,
  • service, or place
  • Keywords or phrases that people usually type in search engines

A great website domain name makes your marketing so much easier. You can also use these qualities as a baseline for choosing your Instagram username. Here are some questions that will guide you in selecting a stand- out Instagram username, whether you’re new to the platform or considering a name update.

What type of Instagram account are you using?

There are three main categories of Instagram accounts: Business, Personal Profile, and Content Curation.

Personal Profile

If you’re promoting a personality-based brand, your username should reflect this. @SimonSinek is an example of using your full name as your handle. Or, you can opt for a shorter name if your real name is too long or hard to pronounce, just like @GaryVee.

Content Curation

If your goal is to curate or create original content following a theme, then you’re in luck. You can use your theme as your Instagram handle. Consider examples like @discoverearth and @beautifuldestinations, which both feature gorgeous travel photos. These usernames are simple, easy to remember, and appeal to a specific audience. Here is another excellent example, @entrepreneurshipfacts. I know right?

Business

This is possibly the easiest to name, as your Instagram handle obviously needs to match your company branding. After all, your goal is to boost your brand recognition and drive people to your brick and mortar store or e- commerce site. If your company name is a little unwieldy, then go for the shorter version, just like @natgeo.

Can your target market relate to your username?

Your target readers should find your username appealing and descriptive. If your content is intended for people who love both cooking and minimalism, then the username @foodminimalist is an excellent choice. It’s made up of two self-explanatory words that summarize the account’s content strategy. Plus, these are popular keywords that would help boost your rankings, as people often type them during online searches.

Is it unique?

While it’s tempting to imitate an account with millions of followers, resist the urge to do so. If you want your account to become viral, you need a distinctive username, not just one that shouts “me too.” Finding a unique and standout username may take hundreds of attempts, but it would be worth the effort.

Is it simple?

Instagram limits handles to 30 symbols and allows a combination of numbers, letters, underscores, and periods. However, this does not mean you should go wild and cram in all the best keywords in your username. Since word of mouth is still the best kind of promotion, your Instagram handle has to be easy to say, easy to remember, and even easier to share. If no one can pronounce, much less spell your username, you’re making it difficult for people to discover your profile on the platform.

Do you have the same username across all online platforms?

This principle applies to those who want to reach audiences on several platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. By having the same username across the board, then you ensure brand consistency. An exception would be if you wish to keep your personal social media accounts distinct from your professional ones. Your followers will probably lose interest in seeing photo after photo of your selfies in the bathroom, unless that is part of your content strategy.

What should you do if your ideal username is no longer available?

Don’t be shocked if your desired username is taken. It may seem impossible to find an IG handle that has not been chosen by one of the billion monthly active users out there. If someone beat you to a username, you don’t have a lot of options unless you possess a trademark for that handle.

Don’t lose hope though, as you can still come up with a great username by following these tips:

– Use only your first name (or last name). It helps if you’re lucky enough to have a distinctive first name like @Oprah (Oprah Winfrey) or @Zayn (Zayn Malik).

– Go even shorter by using initials like @zefron (Zak Efron) or @jtimberlake (Justin Timberlake).

– You can also use your nickname or delete some syllables. Follow the lead of @zuck (Mark Zuckerberg) or @Jlo (Jennifer Lopez).

– Insert “real” in your username like @realdonaldtrump (Donald Trump).

– Start your username with a “the” like @TheEllenShow (Ellen DeGeneres).

– Try adding “official” if you have a short name to begin with, like @yokoonoofficial (Yoko Ono) and @officialadele (Adele).

– Add “I am” or “Im” to the front of your handle like @iamlenaheadey (Lena Headey) or @imamysedaris (Amy Sedaris).

– Start your handle with “This is” like @ThisIsSethsBlog (Seth Godin).

– Include your location by adding your state or country initials (NYC or UK) at the end of your username.

– Maintain brand consistency by using your website domain, like @wordpressdotcom.

– Start your username with honorifics or titles like Mr, Miss, Mrs, Dr, etc.

– Be funny or witty especially if that’s your brand @SteveMartinToGo (Steve Martin) or @mcnaughty (Erin Mcnaught).

– Insert extra letters like @garyvee (Gary Vaynerchuk).

– If you post consistently, you can add “daily” to your username: @DailyYourName

– Use a concise phrase that describes your featured content, like @whymykidwascrying or Amy Poehler’s feminist @amypoehlersmartgirls.

– As a last resort, use special characters like a period, underscore, or dash. I don’t really recommend this; not only do these symbols eat up your character count, but they are also difficult to say or remember. Plus, if you’re @first_name, people may mistakenly share the username @firstname instead.

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