You understand the value of a good brand name. You’ve spent hours researching and workshopping a name that perfectly encapsulates your business and what it does. You’ve run it by your friends, family and industry peers. But then, you go to set up the Twitter account that will announce your brand to the world, and there it is. That perfect name was already been taken by someone on the other side of the world a decade ago, and they haven’t even tweeted since 2017.
But all hope is not lost. Here is our guide to what to do when your social media username isn’t available.
Find a suitable variation on your name
One solution is to find a variation on your name. Take mine for example – I go by Rob Collingridge, but I could use the full version, Robert, include my middle name, or break it up by adding punctuation or removing letters. They’re all fairly innocuous changes that still leave my identity clear and easy to understand. You could even use a combination of these tactics if the name you’re after is particularly popular.
Add initials – RobSCollingridge
Shorten your name – RobColl
Lengthen your name – RobertCollingridge
Break it up with punctuation – Rob.Collingridge
A mixture – R_Collingridge
Take a business focus
If your company or brand is more business-focused, rather than being personal and casual, this can also be used to shape your alternative username. This can add a bit more character or authenticity to your name, with additions like ‘Team’ or ‘HQ’.
Make it more team-focused – RobHQ or TeamRob
Reference your website – robdotcom
Make your name official
When your name has already been taken, it’s common to find the person who’s taken it is in an entirely unrelated field to you, which can cause confusion when customers are searching for your company. You can help avoid this with strong, clear branding elsewhere on your profile, as well as adding a phrase to your name that highlights you as the one people are looking for.
Add some extra authenticity – OfficialRobOfficial or RealRobCollingridge
Add another short phrase – IAMRob, ThisIsRob or WeAreRob
Reference your location or profession
You can also differentiate your name by adding in another layer of detail to do with location or the industry you work in. For example, if you are a UK based company, but another company in America beat you to your desired username, you could add in your location. You can also add in details about your work to make you easier to identify.
If you’re doing this, however, consideration has to be given to future-proofing this part of your brand identity. For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency that specialises in SEO, but is looking to expand into social media management in the future, adding ‘SEO’ as part of your Twitter handle will just pigeonhole you unnecessarily.
Add in a location – RobUK or RobIsHere
Reference what you do – RobSEO, RobBlogger, RobWrites or RobTweets
You can also use verbs to differentiate your brand name. While a lot of these can be an elegant way of having a unique username while still also still using your full brand name, these additions still hold meaning in and of themselves. For example, while adding ‘Discover’ before your name is fairly innocuous and general, adding ‘TalkTo’ would be more applicable to a customer service account. Spend some time to really analyse the message you’re sending with your alternative name and decide from there.
Encourage your audience to engage – JoinRob, UseRob, GetRob, TryRob or DiscoverRob
Tell people what the account is there for – TalkToRob, SpeakToRob, RobSupport
If none of the above take your fancy, there are some other options available. They require more of a process and won’t happen straight away, so we recommend securing your second choice username before undertaking these.
Make them an offer you can’t refuse: locate the username you actually want and ask them if they’ll sell it to you.
Report a dormant account: with the social network itself, to see if they’ll remove them entirely and free up the handle.
File a complaint: if someone is using your trademark or brand name to namesquat.
While it can be frustrating finding your ideal username has been taken by someone else, it doesn’t have to stop you having a name that you’re happy with – with a bit of thought and experimentation there are plenty of alternatives that won’t stop your brand standing out.
If you’re after more tips to help get the most from your brand’s social media presence, take a look at our masterclass: The seven secrets of brands who actually make sales using social media. Taking our experience from training thousands of companies, it gives you the information and tools you need to make a huge success of your social media presence.