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Most startups don’t need exact match social media handles

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 08 Mar, 2019
Essential Essential topic

In the world of startups and small businesses, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about social media handles

We understand that when it comes to business, entrepreneurs want to make the right choice. They are careful about every step of the branding process, even social media handles, so it is no surprise that some people are hesitant to take a business name if the social media handles are taken.

In the world of startups and small businesses, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about social media handles. Many people don’t realize that, like a domain, a social media handle is a way that potential customers can find your business online. However, like domains, you do not always need an exact match social media handle.

A social media handle is your username. Oftentimes, on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, a handle follows an @ symbol, like @Squadhelp. It is a way for people to identify you and communicate with you.

After working on nearly 20,000 naming projects, we often help our clients find the right domains for their businesses. However, many people are confused about social media handles.

If they’re looking for an exact match domain, doesn’t that mean they need an exact match handle?

We have always had the same advice: exact match social media handles are not necessary.

You may think that lacking an exact match social media handle is confusing for people. However, in most cases, your customers will have little trouble finding you on social media, even if you do not have an exact match handle.

There are a few reasons why this is the case:

  • Your name matters more than your handle.
  • Many businesses don’t have social media handles and it does not inhibit their success.
  • People probably won’t have trouble finding your business on social media regardless.
  • There are plenty of ways to get around exact match handles.

But if you’re not yet convinced, we have some raw data to support these claims.


Our interest in social media handles arose from our own experiences working with thousands of businesses to name their new ventures.

We did some research on LinkedIn’s annual list of 50 fastest growing startups and looked into what social media handles they’re using to see if handles have possibly impacted their success in any way.

Check out the 50 hottest startups below:

Top 50 fastest growing startups

We used these because they are the fastest growing startups of 2018 and the data on their social media handles will accurately show whether or not having exact match social media handles impacted their success.

If most of the companies on the list, in fact, use exact match handles, it might indicate that exact match handles provide an edge. If most of the companies do not use exact match handles, it would go to show that social media handles are not needed to achieve rapid growth.

We searched across four social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ - for the companies on this list:

For each company, we recorded whether or not they used an exact match social media handle for their online presence for each of these platforms. See the table below.


Top 50 startups data

In this chart, an ‘x’ indicates an exact match social media handle for the company listed in the first column. N/A indicates that the business had no social media profile on the respective platform.

Here is a brief overview of some of the data’s important points:

  • Only 20% of these companies use exact match social media handles across all platforms
  • 34% of the companies on this list have no exact match handles on any of their social media sites

Businesses using exact match social media handle across all channels


Out of the 50 companies, only ten had exact match social media handles across all five of the platforms. That is only 20% of the top startups that have exact match social media handles. The rest had some form of variation in one or more of their social media handles.

Additionally, we found that seventeen out of 50 on the list (34%) did not have exact match handles for any of their social media platforms.

About 70% of these businesses use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as their primary social media platforms.

Even though these rapidly growing companies are actively using social media, most of them still do not need the exact match social media handles to find success in the business world.

After speaking to several customers, we found that most of these reservations are spurred by a concern that they will miss out on connections with customers without an exact-match handle, leading to a slowed growth.

However, as is the case with exact-match domains and URLs, this is not always the case. Exact match social media handles are even less important than exact match URLs. In some cases, our clients need exact match URLs and we help them find great names with available URLs. Sometimes, however, exact match social media handles are not available along with the exact match URL.

Expecting to find exact match handles across three, five, or even seven social media platforms is an unrealistic expectation in most cases. Thousands of users join social media every day from around the globe, and they claim available usernames left and right, especially since, unlike domains, handles are free. This means anyone can claim handles at any time.

However, even businesses that require or prefer exact match domains do not need exact match social media handles, so a handle should not be an enormous factor in choosing a business name.

Through our research, we found that most successful startups do not use exact-match social media handles, and it has not impacted their growth.


This data suggests that exact match social media handles will not inhibit your startup’s growth. As the success of the startups on this list shows, you can find success as a startup without exact match social media handles.

While it is important to snag your social media handles before someone else can impersonate your business online, a username being taken should not deter you from using a great business name in most cases.

The only situation in which a taken handle can get messy is if the person or business using your exact match business name operates something similar to yours. So, if you are starting a paint brand called "New Blood" but another art supply brand is using the handle @newbloodart on Instagram, you may want to reconsider the name.

So what is important, if social media handles aren’t?

Coming up with a business name that sticks in people’s heads and makes your brand memorable is a great place to start. In most cases, a great name matters more than a good social media handle.

Build a solid brand foundation and a solid social media presence, and your startup will flourish.


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