What’s an Instagram handle?
That’s the question we’re going to cover in this post.
We cover how Instagram uses handles, how to choose a handle, how to change your handle and more.
Let’s get started:
What’s an Instagram handle?
An Instagram handle is your username on the platform. It becomes your very own unique Instagram URL other users can use to visit your page or find you through the app.
Here’s football star Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram profile as an example:
His Instagram handle is simply his name “cristiano”.
The handle is shown at the top of his Instagram bio, at the end of his Instagram URL in your browser’s address bar, in posts he creates and in comments he writes.
The handle is different from his display name, which is shown in the browser tab of his Instagram profile page:
Long story short, your Instagram handle helps other users identify you on the platform.
How to choose the best Instagram handle
The best Instagram handle for most people and businesses is the Cristiano route: your name!
You can try to use your first name like him if it’s unique enough. Many of us have to resort to using our full names.
People already know you by this name, so it’s the easiest way for them to find your Instagram username:
However, what if the handle you want already exists? Or what if your name is hard to spell, really common or similar to a celebrity’s?
What if you’re creating a personal Instagram profile or an account that curates content?
There are a few additional methods you can use to choose an Instagram handle.
Shorten your name
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is better known as simply “Gary Vee,” a nickname that’s easier to pronounce and spell than his Belarusian surname:
Even so, you can see how he pokes fun at folks who have trouble pronouncing his name by using a phonetic spelling of it in his display name.
You can use this same technique to shorten your own name. Use a phonetic version as Gary has for the letter “V,” or simply use your initials.
Here are a few variations of that:
- @natgeo – National Geographic
- @jlo – Jennifer Lopez
- @psg – Paris Saint-Germain Football Club
- @ddlovato – Demi Lovato (real name Demetria Devonne Lovato)
Include niche-related keywords
If appropriate, consider adding a keyword related to your niche to your Instagram handle.
That’s what skateboarding shoe company Vans did with their Instagram page:
They do have an Instagram account that’s simply @vans, but they also have another that’s @vansskate.
They use the @vansskate Instagram page to post skateboarding content exclusively and @vans for broader marketing campaigns.
This is also a great method for curation accounts. These are accounts that collect images and videos about specific niches to showcase them on their own accounts.
Fortunately, a good curation account always credits the original poster.
A popular example is The Dodo:
The Dodo is a media company that shares animal-related stories in video format.
Their Instagram handle @thedodo uses the company name “The Dodo,” an extinct flightless bird.
The name is on-brand with the company’s animal-centric content.
Incorporate your personality or philosophy
If you or your brand have a specific personality trait or philosophy you share with the public, include it in your Instagram handle.
This is especially helpful if your name is already taken on the platform.
An example is Miles Taylor, an artist with cerebral palsy.
Miles goes by the nickname “Smiles,” partially because it includes his name but also because of his upbeat personality and positive outlook on life.
As such, his Instagram handle is @smiles_taylor:
A few tips to follow
- Instagram handles are not case sensitive. @natgeo and @NatGeo are the same handle.
- Avoid periods, hyphens and underscores.
- Don’t use numbers for a professional account unless it’s part of your brand name.
- Avoid using a variation of your name simply because it’s available.
- You don’t need to use the word “official.” Spammers will create fake versions of your account with the word “official,” anyway. Most users verify accounts by looking for a blue checkmark or the account’s follower count.
Instagram handle generator tools
Jimpix’s username generator enables you to generate Instagram handles with a keyword.
You can also specify a category, character length and which position you’d like your keyword to appear in.
If you click on each username the tool generates, you can see if its Instagram handle is available by attempting to visit the URL on Instagram.
SpinXO also helps you find an Instagram handle based on a keyword.
You can specify whether or not you’d like your handle to include exact words, rhyming words or just one word.
It doesn’t let you check the username’s availability on Instagram, but it does generate a few good results.
LingoJam is a simple Instagram handle generator tool.
You input a keyword, and it outputs a list of suggestions related to that keyword.
This means some of the suggestions won’t include your keyword at all.
It does output a few decent choices, though.
How to change your Instagram handle
Here are the steps to change your Instagram handle:
- Go to your profile while logged in.
- Click Edit Profile.
- Enter a new Instagram handle in the “Username” field.
- Click Submit.
These steps are the same on both the Instagram app and website.
You’ll have 14 days to change your username back if you change your mind. It’s up for grabs after that.
This means you can still change your Instagram handle back after 14 days so long as no one else has claimed it.
Additionally, if your profile reaches a lot of people, Instagram states it’ll have to review your username change internally.
Do Instagram handles matter?
When it comes down to it, does your Instagram handle matter? Yes and no.
If you’re a business, you’re better off choosing a handle that includes your brand name. It doesn’t need to be your entire brand name, but it should incorporate it enough to be identifiable.
This is because internet users will use your brand name in the Instagram search bar to find your account.
Having an Instagram handle named after your brand name is the best way for users to identify your account, especially if you’re not verified.
However, plenty of celebrities, influencers and people with personal accounts get by without using identifiable Instagram usernames.
One of the most popular examples is rap artist Drake, who goes by @champagnepapi on Instagram. He has over 106 million followers on the platform. He doesn’t use a display name, either:
Another example is actress Troian Bellisario, who goes by @sleepinthegardn:
What matters most is consistency across all social media platforms.
Why brands should use the same handle on all platforms
Some folks will hear about your brand and input your name in Google. This is partially why using an Instagram handle that matches your brand name is useful.
Others will see your posts and reels in their feeds and follow you from there.
Some, however, will need to be encouraged to follow you.
- A “Follow Us On Instagram” prompt on your website.
- A “follow [Instagram handle] on Instagram” shoutouts in your own YouTube videos and podcast.
- Physical products and handouts you give to customers.
- A similar shoutout when you’re a guest on YouTube channels and podcasts where the host asks you to list where their viewers can find you.
It’s much easier to name or list a single @ for all accounts.
Here’s the difference using a make believe medical socks clothing store “The Socks Doctor:”
“Find us @socksdr on Instagram, socksmed on Twitter and socksrx on YouTube.”
“Find us @socksdr everywhere.”
Instagram is one of the most widely-used social media platforms in the world.
It’s also one of the best places to publish videos, particularly Instagram stories, one of the web’s favorite way to consume content.
For these reasons, Instagram is a must-have social media presence a lot of businesses should strive to have. Your Instagram handle is your first chance to optimize your brand for the platform.
If you’re creating a new account or choosing a new handle, the best thing you can do is keep it simple and memorable.
This makes it easy for folks to find you on the platform, making it even easier for you to achieve the growth you want to see.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about Instagram, be sure to check out our collection of Instagram statistics.