Published by on February 3, 2017

Twitter has managed to gradually entrench itself into the modern world of business in a matter of years. It has become so ubiquitous with brand marketing that it is almost absurd to overlook it in a modern business plan. With that said, not every company has been quick on the uptake, and new businesses have had to adapt to this unique platform for online customer engagement.

With hundreds of millions of users interacting with each other on Twitter, it is a huge market to tap into for businesses. However, if you are new to the world of social media you will have a lot to catch up on. One aspect of this is your Twitter handle, or username, which people will use to find you on Twitter. An increasingly common problem for companies is that their actual name might already be taken by someone else – so you might need to get creative. This post is going to run through the importance of your username on Twitter, as well as what you can do if your preferred username is already in use.

What is in a Name?

Before answering the problem of your preferred Twitter handle being taken, it is important to consider what choosing the right username entails. Firstly, your username is a direct link and association with both your brand and your business. So, it is safe to say that your username will be bandied around a lot if you get any traction online.

Obtaining and using your handle well on Twitter is all about acting fast to snag your desired name, being righteously consistent if you are on other social media platforms and creating a name that will leave an impression that your audience will remember. Make sure your username reflects these traits online, and you will have succeeded in nailing your brand’s online handle.

How to Change Your Current Username

If you already have an account with Twitter but would like to switch to a new handle, they have made the transition relatively painless. Better yet, you can keep all of your feeds history and followers if you go through Twitter’s official channel. Whether you are wanting to rebrand your business and switch over to a new name – or just fancy a better handle after reading this – there is no need to start anew. All you need to do is hop into your settings on Twitter, edit your account username and download your Twitter archive to your new name. Nice and easy!

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What to do if Your Business Name is in Use

If you have thought of the perfect Twitter username and it is already registered to someone else, Twitter only offers one option which is limited in scope. If the user name is registered to an inactive user, then you can apply for the release of that account to you. This includes transferring your followers over to the new account automatically, which is great.

There are a few caveats, though. Firstly, you will need to check Twitter’s current inactive account policy to make sure the account that you want can be deemed inactive. It also appears that at the moment, Twitter can only help companies that have a registered trademark. However, things might change in the future.

If you cannot get the handle that you ideally want, then your hand is forced to get a little creative. Although not perfect, you can make a working handle that can be associated with your brand with no problems. Below are a few ideas that you can try out if you are struggling with an alternative username.

Shorten/abbreviate

One of the easiest ways to remedy the loss of your preferred handle is to shorten your brand name a little. Twitter names cannot exceed 15 characters, so shortening your username makes more sense than extending it. For example, CNN’s breaking news Twitter handle is @CNNBrk – which is easy to remember and short, but it still lets us know it is an official CNN username. The same has applied to the American Express support account on Twitter which is simply known as @AskAmex.

Add Location

One of the great things about Twitter is that it works locally as well as globally. For your brand awareness, and in this case your username, adding your location can really help with a local audience. If you’re focused in and around Great Britain for example, then add UK to the end of your handle. Twitter themselves do this with their UK based @TwitterUK account as well as Chocolate brand Cadbury with @CadburyUK.

Use Initials and Underscores

If you don’t have any remarkably creative ideas for a new handle, you can always use punctuation to your advantage. Use underscores (_), hyphens (-) or periods (.) to stand out from the crowd and get your ideal Twitter username. So, if Derek’s Taco’s is looking to dive into social media but the handle @DereksTacos is already taken, he could try out @Dereks_Tacos and hope it is free!

Add-on Words

Something we actually had to adopt at TweetPilot was adding a few letters to the end of our name as @TweetPilot was already taken. It is why our Twitter handle is, a little annoyingly, @TweetPilotHQ. There are several words you can add to the end of your handle such as HQ, App (for iOS and Android apps), Online etc.

This ‘trick’ isn’t limited to small businesses. Below are a handful of well known brands, celebrities and businesses who have had to opt for adding a few letters to their Twitter handle.

So that’s three celebs, a global app sensation and a well-known sports news channel all of whom have had to add something to their name/brand to get access to a suitable Twitter handle.

In Summary

Successfully utilizing social media platforms like Twitter for business is a very nuanced craft. It involves knowing how to create a brand that will be liked on social media, as well as how to portray your brand online. One of the first things that can go wrong for your brand is having its name already in use on Twitter. Thankfully, there are a variety of different workarounds to make sure that you can still make the most of what Twitter has to offer. This post has hopefully shed some light on the best practices regarding Twitter handles and what to do if your ideal username is taken. It may seem like a small aspect of your marketing, but it will bleed into essentially all of your social media efforts.