25 Twitter handle hacks for when your perfect name is already taken
Is your ideal Twitter name taken?
With 288 million monthly active users, it’s no surprise that finding a Twitter name is tougher than ever.
If your name has gone, you can try waiting 9 months, or contact the user to secure the unused account. If that sounds limited don’t worry, you have other options.
While usernames have to be unique you have a personal identifier (sometimes a business name or real name) to help ensure people find your account.
I promise you, there are still a ton of great Twitter handles out there that can work for you.
Even if your existing name is lack lustre, you can still change it and keep your followers.
Whatever your reasons you need a new name, so let’s explore 25 hacks and 5 tools to help find lots of great name ideas. Finally, we’ll look at how to cut out the chaff and pick the best name for you…
Copy the 25 Name Hacks Used By Top Tweeters
Hack 1. Use Part of Your Name
Great if you’ve an unusual first or last name.
@Oprah (Oprah Winfrey)
@Beyonce (Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter)
@benioff (Marc Benioff)
@levie (Aaron Levie)
@hodgman (John Hodgman)
Hack 2. Shorten Your Name
An idea if your full name is more difficult to remember or type in.
@JLo (Jennifer Lopez)
@randfish (Rand Fishkin)
@joefav (Joe Favorito)
@yarby (Jason Yarborough)
Hack 3. Use Your Initials
Works well for individuals, although you run the risk that people won’t find you.
@jtimberlake (Justin Timberlake)
@aplusk (Ashton Kutcher – a plus k)
@SarahKSilverman (Sarah K Silverman)
@kellyalovell (Kelly Lovell)
@msuster (Mark Suster)
@joshk (Josh Kopelman)
@umairh (Umair Haque)
Hack 4. Make It Seem Canonical
“The…” implies the canonical version.
@THEobserver (Charlotte Observer)
@TheEllenShow (Ellen DeGeneres)
@TheNextWeb (The Next Web)
@TheEconomist (The Economist)
@TheXFactor (The X Factor)
@theAtlantic (The Atlantic)
Hack 5. Make It “Real”
Works well if you’re well known.
@Real_Liam_Payne (Liam Payne)
@KevinHart4real (Kevin Hart)
@realDonaldTrump (Donald Trump)
@DavidBowieReal (David Bowie)
@TheRealStanLee (stan lee)
Hack 6. Make it “Official”
Official is a long word, so only use if you’re known by a short name, a nickname, or if you’re famous.
@NiallOfficial (Niall Horan)
@OfficialKat (Kat Dennings)
@SpursOfficial (Tottenham Hotspur)
Hack 7. Add “I Am…” or “Im…”
Great for personal accounts, announce yourself with pride.
@IamJoelBrown (Joel Brown)
@IAmJohnSparks (John Sparks)
@IAMQUEENLATIFAH (Queen Latifah)
@ImWhitneyBlack (Whitney Black)
@imVkohli (Virat Kohli)
@ImAngelaBassett (Angela Bassett)
@imLucyWatson (Lucy Watson)
Hack 8. Say What You Do
It’s simple and can work well if the “what” is meaningful to your audience.
@BBCBreaking (Breaking BBC News)
@HemingwayApp (An App for Writers)
@hiltonHOTELS (Stay in a Hilton Hotel)
@TeamCoachBuzz (Head Coach Buzz Williams)
@BrianBergerPR (Public Relations by Brian Berger)
@McCannSportsLaw (Michael McCann – Legal Analyst & Writer)
@BrandYou (Brand Marketing by Cindy Ratzlaff)
@MayorofLondon (Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London)
Hack 9. Use Your Location
A good idea if your location is significant to your followers.
@nytimes (The New York Times)
@TimeOutLondon (Time Out London)
@SamsungMobileUS (Samsung Mobile US)
@MTVUK (MTV UK)
@BBCWorld (BBC News World)
Hack 10. Add “This Is…”
Introduce yourself with “This Is…”.
@ThisIsSethsBlog (Seth Godin)
@thisisfreegle (thisis freegle)
Hack 11. Get People to “Try” or “Use” What You Offer
Have a product or a service? Why not suggest an action to your followers?
@tryMajestic (Try Majestic)
@TryGhost (Try Ghost)
@UseClear (Use Clear)
Hack 12. Use Your URL
Not a bad idea, particularly if your website is important to you.
Hack 13. Offering Support? Just “Ask…”
Nice and friendly; great if you’re offering help to your followers.
@AskPlayStation (Ask PlayStation)
@AskPayPal (Ask PayPal)
@AskDrRuth (Dr. Ruth Westheimer)
@AskBartenders (Bartender’s Network)
Hack 14. Hint At A Base Or HQ…
Use if you’re a HQ, or to imply gravitas, or if you’re an individual whose not tweeting (see Paul Weller)
@MTVbaseAfrica (MTV Base Africa)
@nasahqphoto (NASA HQ PHOTO)
@SkySportsNewsHQ (Sky Sports News HQ)
@paulwellerHQ (Paul Weller)
@DefenceHQ (Ministry of Defence)
@WebSummitHQ (Web Summit)
Hack 15. Use Buzz, Talk, Says, Chat
On Twitter you Tweet, reinforce your willingness to talk to your followers:
@YahooBuzz (Yahoo! Buzz)
@financialbuzz (Financial Buzz)
@TEDTalks (TED Talks)
@MomCentralChat (Mom Central)
@TheAnfieldChat (Anfield Chat)
@RipSays (Tom Van Riper)
@KaifSays (Mohammad Kaif)
@JarettSays (Jarett Wieselman)
Hack 16. Strike First
Ok, ok, this is really just a list of people to be jealous of. Lost to most of us, if you can strike first, you can get a great short name. And sometimes, if you have the trademark, it is still available.
@Inc (INC Magazine)
@jack (Jack Dorsey)
@om (Om Malik)
@loic (Loic Le Meur)
@bijan (Bijan Sabet)
@kristy (Kristy Bolsinger)
@jason (Jason Calacanis)
Hack 17. You’re a Mr
If you’re a Mr you can fall back on the honorific.
@mrjakehumphrey (Jake Humphrey)
@mrchrisaddison (Chris Addison)
@MrAdamBryan (Adam Bryan)
@MrBenBrown (Ben Brown)
@MrAnthonyMorrow (Anthony Morrow)
@MrJamesMay (James May)
Hack 18. You’re a “Ms”, “Miss” or “Mrs”
An option if you’re a Ms, Miss or Mrs.
@MsAnitaWilson (Anita M. Wilson)
@MissKatiePrice (Katie Price)
@MissEmmaMcG (Emma McGowan)
@MrsSOsbourne (Sharon Osbourne)
@missrogue (Tara Hunt)
Hack 19. Make Em Laugh
Humorouss handles to tell your followers that you’ll Make Em Laugh.
@rejectedjokes (Ben Schwartz)
@SteveMartinToGo (Steve Martin)
@schwartzstops (Cory Schwartz)
@BoobsRadley (Julieanne Smolinski)
@Pundamentalism (James Martin)
Hack 20. Create Something in Your “Lab”
Creating something cool or interesting use Lab.
@medialab (MIT Media Lab)
@YahooLabs (Yahoo Labs)
@IntelLabs (Intel® Labs)
@gadgetlab (WIRED Gadget Lab)
@NiemanLab (Nieman Lab)
Hack 21. Add Letters to Your Name
Add letters to your name or to portions of your name.
@garyvee (Gary Vaynerchuk)
@scobleizer (Robert Scoble)
@mjayliebs (Mitch Lieberman)
@xtina (Christina Aguilera)
@birbigs (Mike Birbiglia)
@Mickipedia (Micki Krimmel)
@aCreativeNation (Creative Nation)
Hack 22. Shorten it with Initials and Acronyms
Controversial in branding circles, if pushed you can shorten a long name with Initials and Acronyms.
@PamMktgNut (Pam Moore)
@MITsmr (MIT Sloan Management Review)
@cnnbrk (CNN Breaking News)
@AMAnet (American Management Association)
Hack 23. Apply Alliteration
Repeat the sound; great for memorable, unique name ideas that make followers smile.
@nikisnotes (Nicole D’Alonzo, 19 Minute Yoga)
@rustyrockets (Russell Brand)
@DeweyDecibel (Dewey Saunders)
@badbanana (Tim Siedell)
@BeingBoycie (John Challis)
@RiskReversal (Dan Nathan)
@DepressedDarth (Darth Vader)
Hack 24. Speak Volumes with a Phrase
Phrases work well because they’re memorable and often convey a deeper meaning.
@justcreative (Jacob Cass)
@businessinsider (Business Insider)
@ontheroadwithiv (Ingrid Vanderveldt)
@AdviceToWriters (Jon Winokur)
@JenWritesBooks (Jennifer Donnelly)
Hack 25. Keep Em Up To Date
Keep Em Up To Date, Use “Daily”, “Today” or “ Week”@PRDaily (PR Daily)
@dailymuse (The Muse)
@dailydot (The Daily Dot)
@DailyKeller (Tim Keller Wisdom)
@LastWeekTonight (Last Week Tonight)
@NBCNightlyNews (NBC Nightly News)
@thedailybeast (The Daily Beast)
Bonus Hack 26. Mix Your Hacks Up
Mix it up; why use 1 hack when you can use 2?
@ollyofficial (The Olly Murs name uses alliteration combining Olly and Official)
@TheRealAdamSays (The Adam Glassman name combines TheReal and Says)
@iamsrk (The Shah Rukh Khan name combines iam and his initials)
@ontheroadwithiv (The Ingrid Vanderveldt name uses a phrase and her initials)
5 Surprisingly Good, Fast and Free Naming Tools
Tool 1. Cool Name Ideas
Quickly find domain names with matching Twitter handles.
Perhaps you don’t have a domain name, but need one?
Or you’ve a domain name, but need to check for close name variations?
Either way Cool Name Ideas has a range of tools that return available domain name ideas.
HINT: Click the name ideas to check if the corresponding Twitter name is available.
Let’s look at a tough name challenge; @TaylorSwift13 is a terrible name.
Unfortunately for Taylor most other variations of TaylorSwift are gone.
Using the generators on Cool Name Ideas I found the following available Twitter name ideas:
All much better than @TaylorSwift13
Full disclosure: CoolNameIdeas.com is one of my sites
Tool 2. Thesaurus.com
Use Thesaurus.com to find words or phrases that mean exactly or nearly the same thing, for example:
@FullTiltTaylor (Full Tilt derived from Swift)
@TaylorSwiftSolo (Solo derived from Singer)
@TaylorSwiftTune (Tune derived from Singer)
@TaylorsTune (Tune derived from Song)
Tool 3. TheFreeDictionary.com
Use TheFreeDictionary.com to find related words, adjectives and even references in literature, for example:
@TheArtOfTaylor (The Art Of Singing derived from Singer)
@SwiftLyric (Lyric derived from Song)
Tool 4. IdiomConnection.com
The IdiomConnection.com can help you discover words with common unpredictable meanings, for example:
@TaylorLetsItOut (Let It Out found under Tailor)
@SwiftOnTheDraw (Quick On The Draw found under Quick)
Tool 5. RhymeZone.com
The RhymeZone.com can help you search rhymes, near rhymes, poems, synonyms and the works of Shakespeare, for example:
@TaylorsNotes (Note derived from Tune synonyms)
How to Select Your Perfect Twitter Name
The hard part of name creation isn’t getting the ideas; it’s selecting the right name.
Follow these simple rules to select a fantastic name:
Keep it Simple
Keep it as short and simple as possible; you’re already limited to 15 characters, but remember it’s a limit, not a target.
Avoid names that are difficult to say, spell or type in.
Make it Memorable
Look through the above name hacks, which ones stick in your mind?
Which ones will appeal to your followers?
These are the better names, the quality and style of which you should try to emulate.
Make it Unique
If your name’s not unique, it’s less memorable and difficult to brand.
Make it Identical
If you want to create a brand then you need to be consistent.
Use the same name across all your social profiles.
Tools like Namechk.com will help you check availability across the board.
This comes under the category of name ideas to avoid, for use only as a last resort.
Users are likely to type in the other version of your name (without the underscores).
It also screws up conversations; try telling people to connect at “Justin Underscore March”.
Give me a break.
Numbers are worse than underscores; unlikely to be meaningful they’re also difficult to remember.
Even an idea like Ashton Kutchers’ @aplusk is better than a number.
Have You Any Twitter Name Hacks?
Over to you…
What techniques or tools have you used to find a Twitter name?