You already create great content about your product, service or project.
But you've seen others (maybe your competitor) posting all their good stuff on Facebook or Instagram, and you already see how that's building trust and attracting new customers.
So how do you start doing this yourself without looking like an amatuer?
If you want to build a loyal following of fans online, then I'm about to show you a free resource that will help you achieve the first (but most important) step, in a very short period of time.
If you read on, you'll not only see the single best website I've found to simplify this whole process, but you'll get loads of tips and tools to help you choose a username that will make you look professional, without spending hours trawling through each platform, checking if the name is available!
Let's get stuck in.
Meet Mike, the Sound Engineer…
Mike is a great sound engineer.
Although he's introverted by nature, he knows that to compete with other sound engineers, he needs to start creating content and putting it in front of his target customers (who are Podcast creators in the UK).
The first step has stumped him though:
“How the hell do I choose a username that's consistent across the platforms, and still available?”
After all, if he's ‘mike.roberts44' on Facebook, and ‘minesapint' on Twitter, then his audience could get confused.
Furthermore, he knows that his nearest competitor, Erin, has a great following, and a great name: ‘ErinTheEngineer'.
So he decides he needs to get serious, and build a consistent brand across all the major social medium channels.
To make it easy to scan read, I've split this guide into 4 sections:
- Which Platforms should you choose
- How to check what names are available
- What to do when your perfect name is taken
- Things to avoid when choosing a name
Let's start, as we should, with section 1.
1: Which platforms does Mike choose?
There are hundreds of social media platforms out there – how do you choose which is best for you?
I think it's pretty simple really. You will always want to have ‘The Big Four' which are:
Even if you don't use them right now, you should choose a username that's available on all of them, and create an account, so you've ‘future-proofed' your brand.
After all, if you choose ‘BigMike' on Twitter, and some well-endowed pornstar from Australia decides to use the same name on Instagram, then you are sowing confusion at best, and at worst suggesting you moonlight as a horny plumber, with a huge spanner who makes MILFs moan.
Your next step is to find out if there are any platforms that are specific to your industry.
In Mike's case he'd probably want to use platforms where he can showcase his sound engineering work.
In the ‘Further Resources' section, I'll link to the ultimate list of social media platforms you can choose from, but for now, let's assume he chooses Soundcloud and Audiomack (both places where the central theme is sound and music).
So Mike's shortlist is:
The aim is to have one username that's consistent across the lot.
That's where the tool in the next section comes in.
2: Check what's available
You might think that you need to go to each platform, sign up, put in your username and see if it's available.
We used to have to do that! Until Namechk.com came along.
It's simple – you just open the website, pop the username you like the look of into the big box and off it goes, checking all the Social Media sites for you.
Anything that's green is available, and anything that's black is not. (Red means there was an error checking and may need a manual check.)
Now in the case above, you can see that ‘mikethemike' is available on YouTube but not Soundcloud.
So you might try again with variations on that theme, or maybe you go back to the drawing board.
(Why ‘MikeTheMike'? ‘cos he's a sound engineer…? And they call microphones ‘mikes'..? Geddit? Oh FFS. Nevermind…)
You just repeat this process until you find a name available on all platforms.
HINT 1: Reload the page
On NameChk.com, you may need to reload the page between searches. Sometimes that makes it easier to see if the search has been done properly.
HINT 2: Watch your length
Nope, we're not back to ‘bigmike' again… Twitter has a limit of 15 characters, and some others allow periods (full stops to us British) or hyphens, and others don't.
So try to find a name that's under 15 characters and has no punctuation.
HINT 3: Don't always trust the Instagram results
Instagram can be a bit awkward with these kinds of tools.
If everything is available except instagram, try the username on the Instagram sign up page.
There's no need to actually complete the registration – if you don't put a password in, and press ‘next', Instagram will check your username without actually creating an account.
You may find that although NameChk said it wasn't available, Instagram was just being petulant.
3: What to do when your choice is not available
With so many people online, there's a good chance your first few choices will not be available.
DO NOT SETTLE FOR THE SUGGESTED USERNAME E.G: ‘mikethemike7362'
Numbers in your username, (unless very relevant) tells everyone you're an amatuer who lacks imagination, and probably insists on the missionary position, once a month, with the lights off.
Instead, think creatively. Here's some ideas:
Your name + prefix/suffix
- ThisIsMike or ThisIsMikeRoberts
- TheMightyMike or TheMightyMikeRoberts
- TheOfficialMike or MikeROfficial
- MeetMikeRoberts or IAmMike
Your area of expertise or skill
- SoundmanMike or MikeTheSoundman could work (though watch that character limit on Twitter)
- TheSoundGuy or TheMikeMaster
Your country or area
Shorten your name or use initials
Suffixes & prefixes with your company name
Become the authority
Still stuck? Don't fret… there are a few great websites that will generate a list of username ideas.
Here's my favourites (at the time of writing)
- Namevine.com (I use this for ideas – scroll down the Namevine results page for hundreds of suggestions)
- JimPix username generator
- The Name Generator
- Temparis (scroll past the ads!)
Hopefully these will help you find that perfect name.
Let's finally look at a couple of mistakes that people tend to make when choosing a username.
4: What to avoid
We've already ruled out ‘mikeroberts666' and the like. But here's some more tips on avoiding a bad username:
- Imagine reading your username out on a podcast. You shouldn't have to spell anything, or explain that ‘mike' is spelled with a ‘y'
- Don't try and be clever. Whilst the username ‘atmikeroberts' might sound clever, when you read it out with the ‘@' at the beginning it will confuse
- Don't use numbers unless they're relevant. if King Henry was alive, then he might legitimately use ‘Henry8' on Twitter. However ‘Mike66' just tells me that there are 65 other Mikes who got there before you
- Don't use underscores unless you've no choice. ‘Mike_theMike' might be available, but imagine someone trying to remember where the underscore goes.
- Be careful of repetition. Usernames like ‘awwwdogs' might summarise your content well, but how will your fans remember how many ‘w' you're using? Also, what happens if someone starts ‘awwwwwwdogs'? They could steal your fans!
- Don't make it too specific. What if your username is ‘MikeBirmingham' but you move to Malaga? What if you chose ‘MikeAudition' (there's audio editing software called ‘Audition') but they discontinue the software?
- Don't use brand names. Your username is ‘MikeGarageBand' (GarageBand is Apple audio software) which tells your audience what your expertise is. But one day, Apple's lawyers come a-knocking and you're in a world of hurt
- Be careful with made up names. For my travel brand, I created the name ‘Thravellers' – travel for over thirties'. Making up a name might work for Google (I know, technically it's not made up) but our name causes issues. Especially when we hire a voice over artist from Galway…
I think it's all about balancing brevity & clarity without spending days on this.
I chose ‘ThisIsAlElliott' for all my social media accounts, (and I even bought the domain), but it still has some issues in that my surname could be ‘Elliot', ‘Eliott' or even ‘Eliot'.
So even though I have all those handles, I am using the brand ‘StealMyMarketing' as my one-stop-shop, so when I'm on a podcast, I can just say, “Go to StealMyMarketing.com and see all my work“.
Annoyingly, ‘StealMyMarketing' is 16 characters, so Twitter won't let me use it!
Accept that unless you were one of the first to register on a platform (Hi @jack, the founder of Twitter), or you have a unique name, like Ursula Micklethwaite, it's unlikely you'll be able to have the username you want.
But with a dash of determination and a good dose of imagination, you can come up with a username that might be even better than your first choice.
And it could even protect you from unforeseen circumstances in the future: Imagine the crap all the other Donald Trumps get on Twitter!
Oh, and when you do choose your username, give me a shout over at Twitter (Twitter.com/ThisIsAlElliott), Instagram (Instagram.com/ThisIsAlElliott) or Facebook (Fb.com/ThisIsAlElliott). I'd love to be your first follower.