When I first began using Facebook ten years ago choosing my account name was an easy task. Luckily I was among the first 100 million users of the social media giant which meant my personal name was still up for grabs. Even a year later when Facebook allowed you to become a fan of a business page the platform hosted fewer than 400 million account users. As Facebook nears 2.5 billion account users the prospect of finding your personal name or business name available as a social media account grows slimmer every day.
Choosing your social media “handle” isn’t even as easy as finding that name available on Facebook. Even if you do not intend to use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or YouTube, it’s a good idea to secure the same username across all the major platforms. This practice prevents your competitors or an upset customer from hijacking your name for their own purposes and it insures if you should decide to dip your toe into the waters of a different platform you have a uniform name ready for use.
Securing your social media handles should start as soon as you decide on a name for your business. One of your first marketing tasks should be to create a website and secure your social media handles. You can easily find out about available domain names by checking with whois.com. Ideally, your social media account names will mirror your domain name which makes it really easy for your customers and fans to find you.
Sure you can manually check all those social platforms, but we’ve found it’s easier to search for your domain name plus social media handles all at the same time. A number of websites offer this service but the most accurate one we’ve found is https://www.namecheck.com. You don’t have to purchase your domain name here or register your social media handles from this site, but it allows you an opportunity to see what’s available.
What if I already have a name that doesn’t match?
Setting up a domain name and social media handles that match from day one is the ideal situation. If, however, your company’s owned their domain name for 15 years but in the last 12 months decided to foray into Instagram, your ideal social handle may not be available.
Digital marketing offers a number of solutions, which is one reason we love it so much.
If your Facebook handle and your website domain match, but you the same handle on Instagram or Twitter isn’t available, think about slight alternatives. For instance, our website is advertisingmomentum.com but @advertisingmomentum wasn’t available on social media. We shortened it to @admomentum which lines up with our domain name and was available. Other options might be to add Inc or LLC behind your name or the state or city where your company is located.
If you’ve chosen a great social handle, that’s available via all platforms but it’s very different from your domain name, consider buying that domain name and pointing it to your website. It’s possible to have multiple domain names that all roll over the same site.
For businesses with accounts set up across multiple platforms with many different names, it's possible to change those social media handles without losing your followers! In doing our research, we found this great article by PierPont which outlines how to change your social media handle on each platform. We can’t say it any better than they do.
Should I change my name?
Changing a business name generates a lot of waves through your company. Reflecting that change in your social media handles might or might not be an important task. If your change is slight to better reflect a new product or service focus or a new customer focus, you may not need to change your social media handle. If it’s a major change, make sure to keep your followers up to date on those changes as they happen. Nothing frustrates, and sometimes angers, your customer more than feeling like a company they love has change direction mid-stream.
Some years ago several of my Facebook friends liked and followed a page that promoted itself as supporting a local measure. When the fever pitch about that measure changed, the Facebook page quietly rebranded itself to promote a highly inflamed political issue. Suddenly people’s names were listed as fans of a page with content with which they did not agree. The rebranding did not go smoothly, to say the least.