Digital Branding — Social Media Handles

One of the key questions when starting your company is whether the name is available on all social media platforms.

Chances are your favourite name has already been taken…

Screenshot of the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts of @DigiTips
Screenshot of the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts of DigiTips

I am very happy to report that @Twiplomacy and the @InYourPocket city guides I founded have secured their brand names on all platforms.

At DigiTips we were lucky enough to secure the Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter handles but we haven’t been able to secure the YouTube channel despite being dormant for more than a decade.

But do these vanity URLs actually matter?

Screenshot of the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts of the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office

Consider the case of the UK Foreign Office. When the Foreign Office merged with the Department for International Development (DfID) in late 2020 they decided to reflect the merger also on their social media handles: on Twitter @ForeignOffice became @FCDOgovUK. On Instagram the @ForeignOffice became the @ForeignandDevelopmentOffice and on Facebook the short link was changed from @ForeignOffice to @ForeignCommonwealthAndDevelopmentOffice.

The handle with 39 characters is neither short nor memorable and it certainly doesn’t look very good on paper. However, it did not seem to have an adverse effect on search. Despite the long name it is still easily searchable and once you follow the page or the account, the handle does not really matter.

Having a single brand name on all social media channels is certainly a nice to have since it looks good on business cards and corporate stationery.

Being present on social media also increases your search engine optimization. When searching for ‘DigiTips’ on Google four of the 10 results on the first page point back to our website and our social channels despite not being very active for the past months.

It is very difficult to claim social media handles which have been registered, even if they are dormant. And it is almost impossible to claim social media handles which are active. My former employer BCW was unable to secure the @BCW handle and added ‘global’ to the brand name instead, becoming @BCWGlobal on social media. Burson-Marsteller did not get the two-letter @BM handle and had to settle for @B_M with an underscore.

Social media handles are attributed on a first come, first served basis and you cannot buy these dormant handles which is against the terms & conditions of the social media platforms.

The domain names on the other hand are traded freely and can be purchased from their respective owner. The domain is considered a ‘premium domain’ and is for sale for a whopping €8,900 which is a bit too expensive for our budget. We opted for instead for a mere €15/year. We thought about registering using the Palestine .ps extension for €50 but that might be a tad confusing as the dot splits the brand name.

In summary, make sure you research the social media availability before deciding on a company name to make sure you have the same name on all platforms.

Particle accelerator & social media architect at DigiTips. Blogger @BilanMagazine. Founder @Twiplomacy & @InYourPocket. Formerly @Davos @EuroNews @AFP @Libe