Fun fact: Did you know that the term “handle” has been around since the 1970s? CB radio users back in the day would identify themselves using unique nicknames, which eventually became referred to as handles.
Just in case I lost you regarding the radio (it’s like old people Spotify, but they couldn’t pick the songs), the handles we’ll be talking about for the rest of this guide are of the all-important social media variety. They’re so crucial to a brand’s online presence it’s now standard practice to decide the name for your business and then immediately check out your options.
Let’s be clear: A great name is key to your brand’s visibility. Don’t base your business name on whether you can get your dreams’ social handle.
Successful brand social media handles have most, if not all, of the following characteristics:
1. Pertains to your business
You don’t need an exact handle match. That’s fake news.
Don’t sleep on a quality business name just because you can’t find an identical handle on social. There are plenty of creative ways around it.
For SEO, the name of your business matters more—the right name will always help customers find you. Just make sure that your handle references your business in some way. Don’t go rogue. It’s not the time for that.
2. Contains a keyword
Using a keyword in your handle triples your searchability scores for social media SEO.
When choosing keywords, ask yourself: What words are your potential followers searching for when looking for new content, inspiration, or cool locations?
This one is tough. Successfully working a keyword into your handle is quite the accomplishment, but you don’t want it to feel random and out of place either. So, if using a keyword doesn’t make sense in your handle, you can include it in other locations within your profile.
3. 15 characters or less
As my dude Billy Shakespeare used to say, “brevity is the soul of wit.” My favorite meme account, 3.1415926535897932384626433832, is a rare exception. Keep it short, sweet, and straightforward. Then users will have a much easier time remembering it — and recommending it to their friends.
Twitter has a 15 character limit, and honestly, so should everyone else. Even 15 can feel like a lot. Social media is all about the little bytes of quick, entertaining content, and that includes your brand’s handle.
Even news organizations like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal use abbreviations for their handles. @NYT and @WSJ are short, yet when anyone sees them, they know exactly what they’re looking at.
Consistency matters here, too. If you do choose to abbreviate your brand name on social, make sure you use the abbreviated version within other content too, so it doesn’t feel disconnected.
You don’t want your business accidentally confused with the local chapter of cat hoarders. Do some intuitive research. While you are looking to see if your social media handles are available, don’t just check the exact name you want—take a look around, and try to identify social handles that will be similar to yours.
@CHA could stand for Corrine’s Handmade Accessories, or it could stand for Cat Hoarders Anonymous. Don’t find out the hard way!
5. Consistent across platforms
Consistency is key, so ensure the handle you choose will work for every platform you plan to use. Some sites don’t allow numbers to be symbols, and others have character restrictions (as mentioned above). Verify your chosen handle will be accepted on each site before making a final decision.
Consistency cleans up your social marketing, too. It’s much cleaner to list one handle vs. four or five. It also gives a cohesive feel to the brand.
Back to the Future wasn’t based on a true story (at least that’s what the GOVERNMENT wants us to believe). You can’t travel back in time and go running up to your past self screaming, “We rebranded after two years. That name is never going to work!”
Then the fabric of time splits, the time enforcement officers are all over you, and ugh, who needs that kind of stress? To avoid all that, try to choose a simple name that will evolve with your business. Don’t box yourself in by adding a specific product or service within the handle; it will only confuse your customers later on and may even require you to change it well into your brand’s growth.
7. Sets your brand’s tone
Your handle is a major part of your brand’s image and voice in social conversations. So let’s be honest, if you intend to weigh in on heavy issues, you may not want to use the @BitchesandMows for your revolutionary all-female-led landscaping service (though congrats btw, that is dope!).
Silly names can be hard to take seriously, so if you want your company to speak out on serious world issues, keep it simple. On the other hand, if you pride yourself in fun, quirky, and irreverent content, you have a little more freedom to have fun with it.
To bolster brand recognition, your handle should be memorable. Once you have picked one out, stick with it and mention it across all your platforms and marketing materials.
In particular, newer businesses are important to create familiarity with your handle, so when a customer sees it, they can immediately picture your brand. It helps to be specific. Customers might scroll past a vague handle like @shopABR, which could sell anything. But with something more specific, like @ABRkitchen, customers will know right away that ABR sells kitchen wares.
9. Stays away from unnecessary numbers and symbols
Every second counts on social media. Avoid unnecessary symbols and numbers, so your brand handle is quickly and easily searchable.
This also lets you use your handle across all platforms. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have different limitations and rules around using numbers and special characters in their usernames.
For example, It is way better to have @WeAreBrandName on all of your social platforms. In contrast to having @Brand_Name on Instagram, @Brand.Name on Facebook, and @BrandName_ on Twitter.
10. Easy to spell and pronounce
Nobody is going to be able to remember how to spell silhouette. Honestly, I am just glad my spell checker is still working cause I had no clue.
Apply my struggles to your handle. If it includes a commonly misspelled word, you could potentially miss out on a lot of traffic when people can’t find you or end up finding another brand entirely. Then you’re just giving customers away.
Social media handles are important. They are a bitch to change, later on, so really take some time and feel confident about your decisions.
Your handle represents your brand online, and if you’re looking to give it a significant boost with viral marketing, you’ll need a social media handle that is ready for an influx of mentions, searches, and engagements.
Now that you have a great handle you are proud of, Nowadays is ready to take you to the next level of social media marketing. We design bold, unique, and emotionally charged campaigns unique to your brand.
Not to mention, we don’t believe in any bullshit when it comes to viral campaigns. Ours are organic and use no incentives, so every engagement is of top-shelf quality and provides actual leads, not bots.
Is your brand ready to ride the new wave of advertising? We’ve been giving surf lessons for years, and it’s time to join our epic lineup of clients.