Instagram 101: What’s An Instagram Handle And How Do You Choose The Best One?
An Instagram handle, or “username,” is the identity you use on Instagram to connect with followers.
Your handle identifies and differentiates you in the social media landscape. With around a billion active users on Instagram, it’s crucial to stand out. An Instagram handle also gives you a key tool for building a memorable identity for your audience. Think of it like a catchy business name. The better your handle, the more likely people are to remember you.
Today, we’re going to walk you through the basics of choosing an Instagram handle designed to deliver more followers for Instagram.
Let’s get started.
What Is An Instagram Handle?
An Instagram handle is your username on Instagram. It’s unique to you and your account, and it conveys your personality (and identity) to followers.
Most people use a variation of their own personal name, the name of their company, or something related to what they’re going to share on Instagram, e.g., doglover20.
When you created your profile on Instagram, the service probably asked you to come up with a username straight away. Don’t worry if you already have an Instagram handle, you’re not happy with – you aren’t tied into this name. We’ll show you how to change it later.
Similar to a phone number or website URL, an Instagram handle is a link to your Instagram profile. You’re the only person with your handle. If someone else wants to find and follow you, they can type your handle into Instagram’s search bar to find you.
Why Is An Instagram Handle Important?
Your handle is how people find you on Instagram.
If you want to boost your chances of growing your following, you need a memorable, shareable handle. The right Instagram handle will help clients to track you down on Instagram, but it can also help to boost brand awareness, too. For instance, if your handle is your business name, your followers on Instagram will instantly know how to track you down elsewhere online.
A good handle will:
- Differentiate and define you on Instagram
- Make your content easier to find
- Help people to @mention you for word-of-mouth marketing
- Improve brand recognition and awareness
- Provide information on who you are or what you do
For instance, Sony makes it quick and simple to find their content on Instagram by using the handle “Sony.” Using the same brand name also helps customers to define the account as authentic:
How To Choose The Best Instagram Handle
A good Instagram handle is a key component of your digital brand.
To begin, ask yourself what kind of Instagram account you’re running. Is it for:
Business: If so, the name of your company usually makes the most sense as your Instagram handle. This will show your customers your account is official and improve recognition.
Personal: If you’re building a personal brand, use your own name as your Instagram handle. You could also consider shortened versions like @GaryVee
Curation: If you’re curating and sharing specific content on Instagram, choose a handle that highlights what you’re going to share, like @PugLover
Here are some other tips to help you choose the right handle.
1. Keep It Simple
Like an URL or business name, an Instagram handle needs to be simple to be memorable.
Instagram has a thirty-character limit for handles, but you shouldn’t need anywhere near that many letters. The longer your handle is, the easier it is to misspell or forget. Choose something relevant, like your own name, or your business name, and:
- Keep it short: Minimize the number of excess characters where you can, without making the spelling more confusing. Don’t add numbers and extra characters unless you have to.
- Avoid complex spelling: If your name is difficult to spell, it might be easier to shorten it to something simpler, like @GaryVee.
- Stay away from underscores: If you can, avoid any underscores or dashes. Your followers may forget where to place them.
2. Try Using Keywords
If you’re creating a curation account, or the name you would otherwise choose for your Instagram handle is taken, you can consider making a username based on a keyword. For instance, if you’re going to be posting about cars, you can type the word “car” into Google and see what comes up.
Remember, the keywords you choose should be relevant to your audience, and the content you’re going to share. For instance, if you’re sharing pictures of cute kittens online, then it makes sense to have an Instagram handle like @CuteKittens.
3. Make It Memorable
Making your Instagram handle memorable isn’t just about keeping things simple. A straightforward username will be easier for your followers to remember, but it’s worth adding some intrigue if you can too. For instance, when choosing an Instagram handle, OUAI haircare didn’t just go for “OUAI.”
To make the name more memorable, the company decided to play on how close the word “OUAI” is to “way” in terms of pronunciation. The handle “TheOUAI” is instantly more likely to stick in users’ minds, and it demonstrates the company’s personality.
4. Be Consistent
Chances are you’ll have more than one social media profile in today’s digital world. You might even have a website of your own where you share information about your brand, too. Wherever your customers find you online, they need to see consistency.
It’s no good having the handle “TheOuai” on Instagram and then having a completely different name, like “OUAI-Haircare” on Facebook. The more differences between your titles, the harder it will be for people to find you. Ensure your brand identity remains the same on every platform.
5. Don’t Restrict Yourself
Finally, remember that you’re likely to have this Instagram handle for quite a while. With that in mind, you don’t want to restrict yourself to a specific product or location. If you’ve started a business selling shoes, it might be tempting to use the name: business_shoes, but this won’t make much sense if you decide to sell other products later.
Similarly, adding a location like “NY” to your Instagram handle could make it harder to reach global audiences as your brand grows. Keep your long-term goals in mind.
7 Instagram Handle Ideas
Now you know how to start building your Instagram handle, let’s look at some examples for inspiration. Once you have the ultimate handle, you can start exploring marketing strategies from Instagram automation to Instagram themes. Here are some of the best Instagram handles.
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Claudia Oshry chose the @Girlwithnojob handle as a fun way to highlight her playful and humorous nature. This is a great handle choice, because you instantly get an idea of the kind of content you’re going to be seeing on the platform – which is often things like quirky selfies and memes.
Another wonderfully descriptive Instagram handle, the @Pugloversclub Instagram account instantly tells you what you’re going to get from the account. Using the word “club” at the end of the handle also creates a sense of community, which draws followers in.
An Instagram account dedicated to providing beautiful pictures of interior design and apartments, @Apartmenttherapy uses its handle to describe the kind of relaxing images you’re going to see. The word “therapy” is a great choice, because the soft colors and themes of the account are highly comforting and laid back.
For personal accounts, particularly among influencers and celebrities, using the phrase “the real” before your name is quite common. There are many copycats out there, so @TheRealJimParsons used his Instagram handle to reassure followers they were in the right place.
Simple and memorable, @LushCosmetics is an excellent example of how companies can simply use a brand name and what they sell as a great Instagram handle. The use of the “cosmetics” term after the brand helps to differentiate this account from other Lush handles.
This creative Instagram handle example is perfect for a fashion influencer. Lydia Rose chose her @FashionInFlux handle to demonstrate her ever-changing relationship with fashion. She also has an alternative interior design account which follows similar branding: @InteriorsInFlux
For a travel-focused Instagram profile, @Bucketlisters is a fantastic choice for a handle. This name instantly tells followers to expect images of places you definitely want to visit before you die. The name also matches the company’s website.
Instagram Handle Generator Tools
If you’re struggling with finding the right Instagram handle, don’t panic. There are a handful of “generator” tools out there which can help you come up with some ideas. All you need to do with these products is enter your nickname or name, and a few other details. Some great options include:
SpinXO: The SpinXO name generator can help you with creating Instagram names, usernames, gamertags, and YouTube names. You just enter your name or nickname, hobby information, things you like, and any important words to get some creative ideas to work with. Click the “spin” button after entering your details and you’ll get up to 30 names to choose from.
WeShare: A solution offering a range of helpful creativity tools, WeShare has its own dedicated Instagram name creator. To get ideas, all you need is to type a few relevant words into the search bar. You could mix things up with a keyword, your real name, a business name, and so on. When you’re ready, just click “Generate.”
Lingojam: One of the better-known Instagram name generators, Lingojam has a simple service that’s great for social media users. All you need to do is type a few words in the left panel, then you’ll get up to 300 random usernames on the right.
Jimpix: Jimpix is a random online username generator which can help you to find titles for just about any platform. Just type in a word or name, and select from one of the 31 available categories, or choose a random category. You can add extra terms into your search to make your handle even more unique.
IUG: The Insta Username Generator is a username generator specifically for your Instagram handles. You plug in your keywords and names, and the solution will either generate simple ideas for you, or offer an “advanced search” with more filters and AI functionality.
How To Change Your Instagram Handle
Changing your Instagram handle is simple if you don’t like the one you already have.
Before you do anything, make sure you let your users know you will be changing your username. You don’t want to lose followers because they can’t find you. It’s also worth protecting your old username by creating an account with that title before you switch to the new handle. You can always make that profile private. Keeping your old username simply stops other people from taking it and trying to leverage your success.
To change your username, go to Instagram.com, or log into the app, and tap on your profile.
Next to your username, click on “Edit Profile”
If you’re using the app, the “Edit profile” option will be under your bio.
In the username section, you can simply remove your existing username, and add a new one.
Make sure the name you pick isn’t already taken. If you make a mistake during the process of switching your username, you can also convert back to your old handle for up to 14 days.
If you’re worried about your Instagram verified badge, you can contact the Instagram Help team and let them know you’ve got a new name, so they can ensure the verification gets transferred over.
What Happens If You Change Your Handle?
Changing your Instagram handle won’t automatically remove all your followers and pictures from your account. Instead, it simply changes the name attached to your profile. However, there are a few things you’ll need to be aware of:
- @Mentions: Any @Mentions to your previous username will no longer work, so you may need to go and ask Influencers to update their posts.
- Your Instagram URL: Your username is included in your Instagram URL. If you’re linking to your Instagram profile from anywhere else on the web, you’ll need to update this URL with your new username.
- Your followers: Your followers may be a little confused about the new username at first. It’s best to let them know you’re changing your handle in advance.
- Social media buttons: If you have any social media buttons on your email accounts or website, you’ll need to change where they link out to.
- Consistency: If you’re trying to maintain the same image and brand name across multiple social media accounts, you’ll need to make some changes to other account handles.
If someone searches for your old username (provided someone else doesn’t take it), they’ll simply get the “User Not Found” screen on Instagram.
Improving Your Instagram Handle
Your Instagram handle is a huge part of your identity on Instagram, and therefore a massive branding tool in your arsenal. It’s important to choose the right name from day one, and make sure it has the right impact on your target audience. If you ever decide to change your username, be sure that you let your customers or followers know that you’re going to be updating your name in advance.
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