If you’re on Instagram, then you’ve most likely faced the same problem that I did like countless others. I go over to Instagram to register a username. And, immediately, I realize that ever username I’d like is taken. You are known on the platform by your username, so, I’d like to have one that really resonates with me. And, it seems, that someone years ago decided to use Instagram once and took that perfect username and now, I can’t have it. I have the domain registered for it. I got my logo. But now, I must add unnecessary characters to my username just because someone took the username and logged into their account once several years ago. But wait, it gets worse. For my brands, I quickly realized that if I did get lucky to get the perfect username on Instagram to match my domain, I was not so lucky with other social platforms. This meant that I had unique usernames across all platforms. Yes, my Instagram handle was perfect but, my Twitter handle was totally different and so was my Facebook handle. So, yeah, brand identity consistency? Not for me! So, what did I do about? Well, I spent a whole week trying to find out as to how I can claim inactive Instagram usernames so that I can align my branding identity for both my personal and business profiles. And in today’s article, we’ll study just that.
Filtering Out the Nonsense
The first thing that I encountered quickly enough was heaps and heaps of articles that made no sense at all. On my journey to get the username that I’d like, which, was inactive for about 7 years and had one post and about 13 followers, I realized there were lots of articles that listed tips that were completely nonsense. Every article, one after the other, listed tips that were completely bogus.
From reading about how can mass report the username and have them banned to how you can file for a trademark and wait for Instagram to magically give you the username, there were lots of tips that had no weight to them.
Just so you know, no, you cannot get a username by having them reported and banned. When you get a username reported, you are basically asking Instagram to ‘ban’ them. That doesn’t automatically free up the username for you. And yeah, I was so not going to sit around for months, waiting to have an account ‘banned’. There had to be a better way!
When all Instagram Usernames are Taken – and What You Can Do About It
And wait, there were also tons of articles suggesting I should file for a trademark. Well, none of those writers had any idea what they were talking about. I mean, if you run a quick Google search, you’ll find that Instagram doesn’t release usernames based on trademarks.
So – no. I wasn’t going to wait endless to get a username that was used 7 years ago. And no way I was going to apply for a trademark and then file a report with Instagram when they explicitly have a blog that mentions that you cannot take a username just because you have a trademark for it.
Within the first few days, I was starting to lose hope. But there was one thing that kept me going. I was sure, there is a way. I mean, being an Instagram addict, I had literally seen so many of my local companies and upcoming artists always being able to get the perfect name. How do they do it? Whey are some brands always able to get the perfect usernames on all platforms. I mean, I’m not talking about brands that came on Instagram 10 years ago when most usernames were free. I’m talking about brands that came up just last year and have a ‘common’ and ‘generic’ username, and they still were able to get it. So, there definitely was a way to claim inactive Instagram usernames.
The Silver Lining
Just as I was about to give up, I stumbled upon some new information. There is a way to get inactive usernames. And, this way, is the only legitimate way to go about it. And, it has something to do with digital marketing agencies and media portals.
Let’s break this down, shall we?
You see, digital marketing agencies manage several accounts of brands and advertise on social media on their behalf. Think of this. A mid-sized digital marketing agency typically manages 30-50 accounts of brands. Let’s say we’re looking at an agency based in London. A mid-sized digital marketing agency that manages about 30 client accounts which includes local hotels, restaurants, bars and tech companies. Now, such a digital agency would typically have a huge spend with social networks. I mean, when you’re running ad campaigns for establishment companies, you probably are spending millions with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok every month.
Now, here is the kicker. Social media networks extend a media portal to such agencies. Why? Because, to social media networks, such digital agencies are their bread and butter. They bring in the pie. Now, such media portals allow digital agencies to have a human contact at the social network that they can contact for a variety of requests.
A media portal is a simple access with a form, where the digital agency can request for username claims, verification badges and a variety of other things. And viola, I quickly realized, I am on to something.
The next thing I did was to look for agencies that provide such services. I sent them a quick inquiry. And out of the three that I contacted, one responded back. They asked me for my current and desired username. No login access was required. So, there I was, sending an email with my current username that I hated, and my desired username that was inactive for 7 years. And, that was it. All I had to do was wait.
In about a few hours, I fired up my Instagram app, and to my surprise my current username was magically edited to my desired username. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. All my posts, followers, details – all intact and untouched. All that happened was that my username was renamed. And it was perfect!
Yes, it did set me back a pretty penny, but was it worth it? Well, for me, yes. I’m someone who loves to build a consistent branding identity. I want to come off as a professional in my niche. No, I don’t want unique usernames across all social networks. I want all my socials to be consistent and I want them to match my domain too. So – I really couldn’t complain.
So, yes, you can claim inactive Instagram username. It’s possible. And the only way to go about it is, by approaching a reputable social media agency. And, as far as I could tell, you cannot claim ‘any’ username you’d like. You can only get ones that have been inactive for at least a year or more. And you can only take ones that are of 6 characters or more in length. I’m not too sure why there is a limit on the character length, but, when I do find out, I’ll write a blog about it!