Social Media Handle: What Your Username Says About You

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Carolyn Howell

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2024

TikTok 101

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Have you ever owned a pet? Then, you would know how difficult it can be to pick a good name for it. The opportunity to rename yourself on social media presents a similar challenge. Should you just go with the name everybody knows? Or should you pick a social media handle that says more about you? 
Let’s study what makes a good social handle.

A phone screen displays various social media apps.

What Is a Social Media Handle?

A handle on social media is the name or identifier people or brands use for their social media accounts/pages. If you’ve lived in a cave for the last decade, a handle is also known as a username. 

Many people simply use their real name for their social media profiles. This is a common practice among personal accounts. Many others take advantage of the opportunity to get creative and “rebrand” themselves” on social platforms. Digital creators, influencers, artists, and brands often take the renaming route as a marketing strategy on social media
Where do social media handles appear? Do they have other functions other than identifying a social media profile? Let’s answer these questions and more.

A phone screen displays the Facebook login page.

1. Where Does the Username Appear on Different Social Platforms?

On Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, the handle appears immediately below the account owner’s profile photo on their profile page. The “@” sign also precedes Instagram and TikTok handles. 

On the Facebook and Instagram home feeds, the handle appears beside the profile photo at the top left of the user’s post. On the TikTok For You, Following, and Friends feeds, you’ll find the username at the bottom left of the post. 

The username on a Threads profile page is at the top left, beneath the account’s real name, and opposite the profile photo. On the main Threads feed, it also appears at the top left of a user’s post. 

On a YouTube profile page, the handle is beside the profile photo and beneath the account’s real name. On the main feed, it’s above the video and beside the profile image at the top left. 

2. Does the Handle Serve Other Purposes Aside From Identifying a Profile?

Yes, a social handle is more than just a unique identifier. Display names/usernames also serve the following functions:

  • A username makes searching and discovering an account and all its content more convenient. A social media profile URL always contains the username. When a username appears in search results, it automatically links to its associated profile. 
  • People can tag or mention accounts in posts and comments via their usernames. 
  • When they appear with the “@” symbol, usernames become clickable. People can tap/click the handle to visit the person or business’ social media page. 

Their handle often serves as their brand name for creators, influencers, artists, and businesses. It plays a crucial role in social media marketing and optimization strategies.

A phone screen shows the TikTok’s profile page’s profile photo and username.

3. Why Is an “@” Sign Attached to a Username?

The “@” sign preceding a handle identifies the name as somebody’s handle on social media. It also makes the username clickable so that it links to the person’s social media profile. Take note that the linking function only works within the platform where the username exists. 

The account must also allow tagging and mentioning to enable the link. You’ll know that an @username is clickable when it’s highlighted white or blue. 

4. What Are the Username Character Limits for Different Platforms?

Here are the various character limits and requirements for usernames across different platforms. 

  • Facebook: A username can only contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z, 0-9) and full stops (“.”). It cannot contain domain extensions (e.g., .com or .net) or generic terms. It must be at least five characters long. You can’t use full stops or capitalization to modify a no longer available username. For example, Facebook considers johnsmith55, John.Smith55 and john.smith.55 have the same username. 
  • Instagram: An Instagram handle can only have a maximum of 30 characters. It can’t contain special characters. Instagram only allows letters, numbers, periods, and underscores in usernames. 
  • TikTok: A TikTok handle can’t exceed 24 characters. It can contain letters, numbers, periods, and underscores. TikTok users can change their handles once every 30 days. However, if you give up your handle, you won’t be able to use it again for a certain period. 
  • Threads: A Threads account requires an Instagram account and shares the username of the IG profile. 
  • Youtube: The YouTube handle (different from the YouTube channel name) must be between three and 30 characters long. It can contain letters, numbers, hyphens, underscores, or periods. It can combine uppercase and lowercase letters. It can’t resemble a URL or phone number. 

A female professional sits in front of a laptop and types on her phone.

How To Choose a Good Handle for Your Social Media Profile

If you want to make a name for yourself online, building a strong social media presence is necessary. And your handle can play a critical role in your social media success. Is your goal to grow a massive following on social platforms and promote your content? Then, follow these tips to help you pick an ideal handle.

  • Make a list of handle options that align with your brand, interests, skills, or passions: If you already have a brand/business name, your handle should be identical or as close to it as possible. 
  • Your handle must clearly represent who you are: When new users discover you, they must immediately know what they can expect from your page. 
  • Your handle must be unique and easy to remember: This is an important optimization strategy. As much as possible, it should also be concise for easier recall. 
  • Your handle must be easy to spell and pronounce: Make it easy for others to recommend your page and search for it online. 
  • Use the same handle across all social media platforms to build a cohesive presence online: Check your username options’ availability across all social platforms. What if your Facebook username is no longer available on TikTok? You can alter it slightly to closely resemble your established username. 

A person holds a white piece of paper with the name “Katelin” printed on it.

Choose a Handle That Packs a Punch

A great social handle helps you establish a strong presence on any platform. It should remain relevant amid the ever-changing needs and interests of social media users. It should help you stand out among the competition. Your handle should grow with you and let you smoothly expand your audience reach to related niches. 

Choosing a handle that packs a punch is easy, in theory. With billions of social media users worldwide, that perfect username you came up with is most likely no longer available. Try a username generator to discover more options. Learn tips and tricks for formulating a solid social media page handle.   

Choosing the right social media handle is an important step for aspiring creators or, influencers and startup brands. If you need help getting started in the right direction, High Social’s social media experts are at your service! 
Sign up for a plan and level up your audience-targeting game with High Social’s advanced, proprietary AI solution. Instantly connect with more viewers who are likely to become lifelong fans. Start growing your TikTok today!

TikTok 101