What can you do when your name is taken on social media?

You understand the value of a good brand name.

You’ve spent hours researching a name that perfectly encapsulates your business and what it does.

You’ve run it by friends and family.

But then, you go to set up the account on social media that will announce your brand to the world, and there it is.

That perfect name has already been taken by someone on the other side of the world a decade ago, and they haven’t posted any content for months.

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 Chris Bassett, but I could use the full version, Christopher, 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 – ChrisJBassett
Shorten your name – ChrisBass
Lengthen your name – ChristopherBassett
Break it up with punctuation – Chris_Bassett
A mixture – C_Bassett

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 – ChrisHQ or TeamChris

Reference your website – Chrisdotcom

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 – OfficialChris or RealChrisBassett
Add another short phrase – IAMChris or WeAreChris

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 social handle will just cause issues further down the line.

Add in a location – ChrisUK or ChrisKent
Reference what you do – ChrisPR or ChrisTweets

Include verbs

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 analyse the message you’re sending with your alternative name and decide from there.

Encourage your audience to engage – JoinChris, GetChris or DiscoverChris
Tell people what the account is there for – TalkToChris or ChrisSupport

Other options you can consider

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 any of 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.

While it can be frustrating to find that 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 and don’t forget that you can have your full name within the profile section.

If you want a marketing partner that is passionate about helping you grow your business then get in touch. It’s what we’re best at.