Did you know Instagram has over 1 billion active users? With so many on the platform, it can be challenging to find one particular person or business. Enter the Instagram handle.
You can think of a handle as the address to your Instagram page. It's also what people search to find you. An effective handle quickly identifies you while being memorable.
Here, we'll discuss how to find and change a handle, ideas for creating your own, and whether it deserves a spot on your business card.
What's an Instagram handle?
An Instagram handle is your username on Instagram. It's unique to you — meaning no other account can have the same handle.
It's easy to confuse an Instagram handle with your Instagram name. However, they both serve different functions. The biggest difference is that an Instagram handle is unique — once you choose it, no one else can claim it. An Instagram name, however, can be the same amongst multiple users.
An Instagram handle has several purposes — first, it's what people use to tag you in photos, videos, and stories. For example, HubSpot's handle on Instagram is @HubSpot, which users can type to mention the user in posts.
Second, it creates a link to your profile. If you change your handle, the URL to your profile also changes. Keep in mind that when you pick a new handle, you can't switch back to your old one until 14 days have passed.
How to Find an Instagram Handle
When you sign up for an Instagram account, you will be prompted to create a handle. While you can let your creativity take the wheel, there are some rules you need to follow:
- Your handle can't exceed 30 characters
- It can only contain letters, numbers, and periods
- It can't contain symbols or punctuation marks
- It needs to be unique
The hardest task is the last one — and may take some trial-and-error. To help, we've included four Instagram handle ideas to get you started.
Instagram Handle Ideas (+ Examples)
1. Keep it simple.
For businesses, a good rule is to keep it simple — usually by picking a handle with the name of your business. But if your business name is unavailable, you may need to do some finessing.
For instance, suppose you run a print shop, Mint Prints. The handle @MintPrints is the ideal option — but if it's already claimed, you can alter it without changing its meaning. For example, you could add your location (@MintPrintsBrooklyn) or a word that describes your business (@MintPrintsDesign).
Later, we'll discuss more variations to try if your first-choice handle is unavailable.
2. Relate the handle to your niche.
Whether you're into fitness, photography, travel, dance, or art, a great tip for creating a handle is to include words that relate to your niche. This also adds personality and interest to an otherwise static profile.
Check out the example below from food author Lizi Heaps:
3. Avoid using extra characters and symbols.
When a user performs an Instagram search, it pulls up a list of profiles with the most relevant handles. Therefore, adding extra characters or symbols to your username could make it harder for others to find your profile.
Although handles have a 30-character limit, keeping it short and concise is better. Long handles are difficult to remember and harder to discover via search. For instance, which handle below is easier to remember?
Option 1: @SophiasFoodBlog
Option 2: @SophiasFoodBlogNYC5746
4. Add "The" or "I'm" in front of your handle.
As we discussed above, sometimes your ideal Instagram handle has already been taken. Luckily there are different variations you can try to craft another one.
One variation is to add "The" in front of your handle. For example, Faire Plaisir, a vintage homeware company, uses the handle @TheFairePlaisir on Instagram. This minor modification allows the brand to still use its company name, which helps with discoverability.
Another variation is to add "Im" in the front of your handle. For example, actor Angela Bassett has the handle @im.angelabassett. This modification is better suited for individual or personal accounts than businesses ones.
How to Change an Instagram Handle
Before you pick a new Instagram handle, it's important to understand what does and doesn't change once you make the switch.
For one, your handle is a key part of your profile's URL. If someone bookmarks or saves a link to your profile with your old username, they will be redirected to a page that reads, “Sorry, this page isn't available." The same goes for every tagged post, comment, and "like" from your old username,
Also, if you link your Instagram handle in an email signature, blog post, website, or business card, it's essential to update this information — which can be a hassle.
If you're starting to get cold feet about changing your handle, fear not — Instagram gives you 14 days to change it back. That said, there are valid reasons for changing your handle, such as rebranding.
Here are four steps to change your handle:
- Navigate to your profile and click "Edit Profile."
- Click on your username.
- Delete your old handle and type a new one.
- Click "Done."
After you complete these steps, Instagram will automatically update your profile with your new handle.
Should I include my Instagram handle on my business card?
While social media was once a way to connect with friends and family, it now doubles as a networking tool. So much so, a number of professionals reserve a spot on their business card for their social media accounts.
But is this the best option for you or your brand? Let's consider the benefits:
- It builds and expands your network. Building your brand often goes hand-in-hand with building your network. Putting your Instagram handle on your business card encourages prospects to find and engage with you.
- It puts a face to the name. Providing your Instagram handle gives prospects a chance to know you beyond the surface-level details. Having an online presence is also important to gaining trust and credibility.
- It provides an additional communication channel. Having social media info on your business card lets prospects know that you're open to communicating in different ways and contexts.
Of course, you also run the risk of crowding your business card with too much information — which is why I recommend linking Instagram only if it's a platform that you actively engage with.
Although picking an Instagram handle may feel like a minor detail, it's a key component of your digital brand. And with millions of users on Instagram, it's essential to pick one that's searchable, memorable, and relevant to you.