Instagram Name Problem

What’s With The “Dot” On Your Instagram Name?

My friend Damany Daniel from The Event Nerd asked me a question yesterday about a topic that bugs me each and every day…”why is your Instagram handle – Nick.Borelli and not NickBorelli”?

I’m pretty good at scooping up every way a person can have /nickborelli as a vanity URL associated with their platforms. I like to cover my bases and make discovering me as simple as possible. Matters are complicated by others with my same name doing very well for themselves in their respective arenas (examples: Nick Borelli Meteorologist of WCAX or Nick Borelli of Borelli Photography to name but two). While I’m not directly related to these other Nick Borelli’s, I keep up with them via Google Alerts and Social Mention because…why manually search for what people are saying about when you can automate?

instagram name takenWhile I don’t advocate for brands to jump on the latest platform and early adopt (because, why start fishing before the fish show up?) I do think there is a lot of value in securing names as soon as possible before someone else gets there. The same goes for URLs but that can be an exercise in futility with all the new extensions that exist (do you really want .pizza if you aren’t in the pizza business?).
All this is pretext to a problem that annoys me daily…my favorite social media, Instagram, won’t let me have the name “NickBorelli”. It says it’s already taken…AND YET…no one has it! My educated guess is that it was created and then deleted but never released again. I’ve been on the lookout for ways to reach Instagram about this such as:

  • I’ve contacted them through their support function on the app.
  • Sent messages on their verified Facebook page every 6 months for 2 years (no response).
  • Even tried to guess their email address (it isn’t but still nothing.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 9.29.18 PMWhat’s the takeaway for you?

Well, the general best practice is to keep your usernames all the same. It’s better for branding, discoverability, ease of verbalizing, and is especially good for print design (the economy of space by listing all the icons you have and the one username makes for a much less busy design). Here’s my problem as an example of when things don’t go quite so perfect – I find underscores difficult to print and verbalize and dots aren’t available for usernames in all platforms. I would be Nick(dot)Borelli on all accounts but, Twitter, for example, doesn’t recognize that character for user names. The good news is that on many platforms the user behavior typically chosen to find your name is through search. So if you can’t quite secure the name you want on all platforms, keep it pretty close with maybe an extra character thrown in. As long as you use the same logo or picture, when someone searches for you, you should be easy to find. Reduce the variables if you can’t have the same name because what’s important is that people find you when they are looking for you.

Here is a list of handy tips to remember:

choosing social media username