With over 2 billion monthly active Instagram users and over 1 billion daily active story viewers, having an optimized Instagram handle is essential. Your handle serves as your unique identity and brand that drives recognition, authority, and discoverability within this massive platform.
But with so much competition, how exactly should you go about choosing the right handle to showcase who you are? This comprehensive guide by a social media expert dives into everything you need to know.
Defining Your Instagram Handle
Your Instagram handle, also called your username, is the distinctive identifier that comes after the "@" symbol in your profile URL that sets you apart from other users.
Unlike your display name or profile name fields which can duplicate, your handle must stay completely distinct on Instagram.
Here are the key rules and requirements to keep in mind:
- Handles can range from 1-30 characters
- Only letters, numbers, underscores and periods allowed
- Cannot contain unusual spaces or special characters
- Availability is limited – no two users can have the same handle
You select your permanent (but editable) handle when you first create your Instagram account.
The Critical Importance of Your Handle
With 500 million users and counting interacting with content daily on Instagram, your handle holds tremendous weight. Here is why it deserves careful consideration:
Drives Brand Recognition
A strategic handle makes you instantly identifiable to your audience. Studies show it takes just 3-7 impressions for a consumer to recall a brand name.
Short, crisp handles see highest memorability and searches. For example, @nike and @starbucks have incredible recall.
Reflects Your Niche
Your handle should clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and what you offer. Fashion blogger? Try @stylishmuse. Fitness pro? Consider @healthlifeguru.
When users search for relevant terms and handles, you boost visibility and visits.
47% of Instagram users discover new accounts by searching profiles, names, usernames and hashtags.
Optimizing your handle for search by including niche keywords leads more users that resonate with your brand to your page through explore and recommendations.
An expertly crafted handle earns credibility and respect, making brands more likely to sponsor influencers and collaborators frequent the profile.
For example, @socialmediaelite draws better partnership opportunities than @xoxo_jess99xoxo.
Step-By-Step Guide To Changing Your Handle
What if you need to edit your existing Instagram handle? Here is exactly how:
- Open the Instagram mobile app then visit your profile page
- Tap "Edit Profile" in the upper right corner
- Underneath your name, tap on your current username
- Delete and type in your new, desired handle
- Hit "Done" then confirm the prompt to change handles
Note the limit: You can only change handles twice within 14 days before getting locked out for security reasons. So choose mindfully!
Now let‘s examine strategies for selecting the perfect handle…
10 Expert Tips For Choosing Your Handle
Keep these pro tips in mind when brainstorming and finalizing your Instagram handle:
1. Keep It Simple And Memorable
Visually simple handles using common words works best. Avoid obscure references. 8-15 characters is ideal.
Clear, easy to spell handles have double the memorability.
Good: @bakeshop or @runningcoach
Bad: @atinycakewar9 or @iluvmarathons12938
2. Have It Reflect Your Brand
What do you want to be known for? Let your niche be obvious. @yogalove or @stylestudio instantly tell visitors what you offer while being catchy.
3. Check Availability
Search beforehand to see if your desired handle is still up for the taking. An unavailable handle with numbers tacked on looks unprofessional.
4. Maintain Consistency
Keep your handle aligned identically to other social platforms like Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to strengthen branding. Prevent user confusion by staying uniform.
5. Consider Keyword Targeting
Incorporate keywords related to your niche, location or interests that users may search for. This strategic SEO move attracts engaged profile visitors.
6. Ditch Special Characters
Stick with basic letters, numbers and periods or underscores. Unique characters increase typos. Visual simplicity works best.
7. Establish Authority
An expertly crafted handle screams authority. @socialmediaelite reads as more credible than @xoxo_jess99xoxo.
8. Use Name Strategically
While first/last names work for individuals, adding middle initials also clears up commonalities without numbers, e.g. @johnk_smith.
9. Numbers Are A No-No
While using numbers technically works, including them cheapens your handle. Prioritize creative names before settling for adding numbers.
10. Periods Over Underscores
Though Instagram permits both, periods visually break up lengthy names cleanly. Lots of underscores clutter handles.
By incorporating the above best practices, you can cultivate a polished, professional handle.
Now let‘s look at some creative strategies for inspiration…
Naming Your Handle: 10 Creative Strategies
Unsure what exactly to name your handle? Apply these naming formats:
1. First Name
Simple and modern like @johnsonjulie or @alexsmith
For a more mysterious vibe, like @jsmotivation or @jtbakes
3. Brand Or Business Name
Perfect for companies like @socialmediainc or @foodiekitchen
4. Niche/Industry Terms
Like @fashionblogger or @fitnesspro clearly displays your offering
5. Location Or City Locale
Such as @parisianartist or @midwestmom to target local followings
6. Name And Number
While not ideal, formulas like @matilda05 or @johnson_52 work
7. Hobbies And Interests
Like @bikeadventures or @yogalover showcases your personal brand
8. Initials And Number
For example, @jh93 or @ss_28 keeps it simple
Having a repeating first letter catches eyes, like @swimstar or @foodfreak
10. Descriptive Physical Or Personality Trait
Rather than a name, focus on labels to remember like @tallgirlprobs or @wanderlust
With an endless amount of possibilities, develop a unique, descriptive handle tailored to your goals.
Tools To Easily Find The Perfect Handle
Manually testing handle ideas becomes tedious fast. Instead, leverage these handy online tools that combine keywords and check availability automatically:
I simply enter niche and profile descriptors like "social media expert pat johnson" then instantly get suggested unused options to choose from. Timesaver!
Why Influencers Must Prioritize Their Handle
For influencers and creators monetizing their content, an optimized handle is an absolute must, much like a blog URL.
Because brand partners assess your potential for ROI before approving sponsorships, everything from your handle to imagery needs to align with their campaign goals for maximum profit.
An indistinct handle diminishes that matchability, risking declined partnerships. This equals lost potential earnings.
By crafting a niche handle reflecting authoritative expertise, sponsors instantly recognize you command their ideal demographic and approve collaborations faster. Increased discoverability further proves you drive ideal traffic.
Platforms like Ainfluencer seamlessly connect qualified, credible influencers with paid brand sponsorship opportunities matching specified handles and niches. Sign up for instant access today!
Your Instagram handle uniquely represents you in this expansive, noisy platform. For individuals, brands and influencers alike, a polished, strategic handle sparks engagement and drives conversions.
With 2 billion users searching handles and hashtags daily, thoughtfully optimize yours to maximize visibility and paid partnership potential based on the naming techniques outlined here by an industry expert.
Leave a memorable impression that authentically resonates with your audience by intentionally cultivating your distinctive Instagram identity tailored to long term goals. Choose wisely and intentionally. Own your brand name and handle it with care!