Choosing a handle for your social media accounts may appear to be a routine of the initial signup process, but taking the time to choose the right handles for your professional use or for a business can play a major role in the success or failure of your overall social media marketing strategy. Although choosing an available handle for each service can be a frustrating experience that may require compromise, following a few simple rules can help ensure you’re happy with the handles you choose.

What are Social Media Handles?

Your social media handle is the screen name or username you use to sign into your social media account. Major social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter use an @ symbol before the word to indicate that it is a username. For most companies, their social media is their voice so their social media handle would be their face. Your social media handle needs to be friendly and professional. Creative twitter handles and easy to remember social media handles leave a lasting impression on your followers and incite them to follow you.

The Scarcity Of Good Social Media Handles

If you are just now signing up for major social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, or if you are choosing a new social media handle, it is an almost certainty that your first choice will be initially unavailable. In fact, there is a very good chance that your second, third and even fourth choice will be unavailable as well. Each service has a total user base of both active and inactive users ranging from the hundreds of millions to the billions, and services like Twitter often require that a user choose a unique handle. If you are hoping to reserve a short, simple or common social media handle, you will be disappointed.

But Wait, I Own The Trademark To The Name Of My Business!

Handles that include registered trademarks are can be the exception to this rule. The owners of registered trademarks have certain exclusive rights to the mark in question, and social media services usually have policies in place for registered trademark holders to dispute the use of a handle. However, these policies may not be clearly defined from the onset and may depend on the actions and behavior of the user who originally claimed the trademarked handle. If you have registered a trademark and want to claim a previously-used social media handle, you will need to personally contact each service and follow an established dispute process.

If Good Handles Are So Scarce, What Can I Do?

Although it may appear to be initially difficult to choose good social media handles from the options that remain unclaimed and available, there are a few rules that professionals, businesses and organizations should follow.

Try For Consistency

It is a good idea to choose consistent handles on every social media service you join. If your handle is unique enough, you may able to choose the same handle on every major service. If not, try to choose handles that are similar or contain the same keywords. For instance, if “[your business name]” is available as a Facebook handle but unavailable on Twitter, try “[your business name]dotcom” instead. Both handles will include the same terms, which is important for SEO optimization, and your customers will be able to easily identify that both accounts belong to your business. On the other hand, choosing disparate usernames such as “Mile-High [unique name]” on Facebook and “5280[unique name]” on Twitter may confuse both your customers and search engines such as Google.

Don’t Promote Anything But Yourself

Next, it is important to not choose usernames based on short-term or temporary promotions, advertising campaigns or marketing strategies – choosing social media handles should be regarded as permanent, long-term decisions. Some networks restrict your ability to change your handle – Google+ doesn’t currently allow it, and Facebook only allows users to change their handle once. Twitter allows users to regularly change their handles, but a better Twitter handle may not be available in the future. Changing your social media handles can also make existing marketing materials obsolete, damage your SEO rankings and confuse your existing followers and customers.

Short Is Sweet

Finally, when it comes to social media handles, shorter is almost always better – especially on Twitter. Social media handles on Twitter are restricted to 15 characters or less, which is due to the technical limitations of Tweets. All tweets must be 140 characters or less, including usernames. Since Twitter handles use available characters, and since usernames must be included in tweets to identify or reach another user, shorter handles allow for more flexibility in composing tweets. If your Twitter handle is excessively long, it becomes more difficult for users to compose legible tweets. For services that use handles in social media URLS (, shorter handles lead to shorter, more memorable URLS as well.