What Are Social Media Handles?
Published August 11, 2022
It’s undeniable that today’s marketing scene is dominated by social media. If your business doesn’t have a social media account yet, then you’re obviously leagues behind your competitors.
But being on social media isn’t enough. You need to be noticed in it. And if you can, dominate it.
There are various considerations to make if you’re planning to conquer social media. But in this post, we’ll focus on one essential factor: social media handles.
Understanding Social Media Handles
In a nutshell, a social media handle can best be described as your official identification on social media platforms. It’s the unique username that the public can identify with your or your business’ social media account. Unlike display names that can be shared by multiple accounts, your social media handle is exclusive to you. In most platforms, it’s typically preceded by the “@” sign. So it appears as @CorrectDigital or @Wikipedia.
On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, handles are the way of life. Upon signing up, you will be asked to choose one. Your handle will serve as your username on the platform too. It’s also permanent so you can’t change it unless you sign up for a new account.
Be that as it may, each platform has different policies when it comes to handles. For one, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all have character limits to their user handles. Twitter only allows a maximum of 15 characters while Instagram and Pinterest allow handles of up to 30 characters. Facebook, on the other hand, allows more leeway at 50 characters max.
Like a domain, social media handles help your potential customers find you online. Except that it’s used in, well, social media platforms. When your followers want to find you or tag you in a post, they’ll just type the @ sign followed by your username. This makes social media handles one of the most important elements of your social media marketing strategy.
Why You Need Consistent Social Media Handles
As mentioned, your social media handle also serves as your username. Thus, having the same social media handles across all platforms has a lot of benefits for your business such as:
1. Your Customers Can Easily Find You
When a potential customer is following you on Facebook and wants to find you on Twitter, they’d probably look at your handle and search for it on Twitter.
If you have the same handle on both platforms, it would be a lot easier for them to find you. Otherwise, they’ll have to scour the platform for ages. Or they’ll end up following a poser account. Either which, you’ll lose a potential customer.
2. It Simplifies the Marketing Process
When your customers recognize your handle, you won’t have a hard time promoting it. It simplifies the marketing process.
To be able to establish customer recognition, your handles must be consistent. It won’t only make it easier to remember but it will also avoid confusion. I mean, even if they are your most loyal followers, surely they have better things to do than memorize a bunch of handles for different platforms.
3. It Boosts Your Trust Rating
Consistent social media handles make you look more professional. As such, it can help ramp up your trust rating.
Imagine this, you are using the handle @mybusiness on Instagram and @mybusin3ss on Twitter. If your Twitter followers will look you up on Instagram and they find that handle, they’ll probably think twice before clicking the follow button. Some of them will even email you asking if it’s really your Twitter account or just some enterprising poser.
4. Printed Marketing Materials Will Be More Memorable
As mentioned earlier, customer recognition will simplify your marketing process by loads. You don’t have to consistently remind people about your social media accounts. This includes print marketing.
With a consistent handle, your print ads will be a lot more memorable. People will easily remember if you say “follow us on social media” followed by your handle as opposed to “follow us on Twitter @” and “Check us out on Instagram @”.
How to Choose Your Social Media Handles
Now you’re probably wondering, what’s with all the fuss about choosing a social media handle? Can’t I just use my brand name or business name so people can easily find me?
Unfortunately, creating a social media handle involves more than just putting together the “@” sign and your brand name. Remember the character limit? If your business name exceeds the platform’s limit, you obviously can’t use all of it. Besides, there’s always a chance that two different businesses will have similar brand names. You don’t want to confuse people by sharing a very similar handle with another account that has nothing to do with yours.
So how do you choose the perfect handle? Here are some tips for you:
1. Keep it short
Aside from staying within the platform’s character limit, keeping your social media handle short makes it easier to remember too. Just take a look at the Twitter CEO’s handle:
By abbreviating his name, he made it easier for his followers to tag and search for him on the platform.
2. Stay close to your brand
As much as possible, stick to the name that people have associated you with. It can either be your brand name, business name, or anything that when the public sees, they’ll instantly think of you.
Doritos, for instance, stuck to their brand name because that’s what people instantly associate with them. If they made their handle @DoritosChips or @Dori2s, you’ll probably think of it as another poser account.
3. Give context
Sometimes, it’s not enough to just use brand names. You need to put some context too. For instance, the media company BBC created different accounts for its different divisions by adding context to their handles.
This is the main BBC account. Notice that the handle only has “BBC”. While the twitter account for BBC news has a bit more context:
It’s sport division also provides similar context:
Another example is the CDC twitter account:
By adding “gov” at the end, it gives people more information on what the account is about.
4. Don’t complicate it
While creative handles are sometimes a good idea, it doesn’t always work especially if you’re building a brand. So instead of putting too many unnecessary words and characters in your handle, keep it simple instead. Don’t complicate it or else your potential customers will have a hard time finding you.
Take New York Post, for instance. Instead of spelling out their entire brand name or putting unnecessary symbols, they simplified it instead.
What If Your Preferred Handle is Already Taken?
As mentioned, every social media handle is unique. So if your preferred handle is already taken, there’s nothing much you can do. Unless you strike a deal with the owner of the handle to hand it over to you. Note, however, that buying a social media handle is strictly prohibited by both Instagram and Twitter.
The next best thing you can do is modify your handle slightly. You can:
- add the words “real” or “thereal”
- include your location
- include what you do
Don’t stress much about not being able to get the perfect handle for your account. Besides, there are a lot of brands with handles that don’t match their brand or business name but are doing really well online. At the end of the day, handles are just a part of your social media strategy. Your social media success still boils down to many other factors like your content and how you interact with your audience.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and SEO specialist based in the Philippines. She works hard to cross check reputable sources to ensure her work uses accurate facts. She is the lead author for several prominent websites covering a variety of topics including law, health, nutrition, and more.