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Do You Need an Exact Match? The Truth About Startups and Social Media Handles

Sometimes you think you’ve come up with a great business name, and you’ve even secured a domain that fits your needs, only to discover that the exact match social media handles you need for your business are taken.

We took LinkedIn’s annual list of 50 fastest growing startups and looked into what social media handles these successful companies are using. As it turns out, most of the top startups don’t have exact match handles for all of their social media profiles.

This should come as no surprise. With millions of business starting every year, not to mention the fact that thousands of people join social media every day, plenty of handles are bound to be taken.

We found that only 20% of the top startups have exact match social media handles for all of the accounts they use. Getting exact match handles is a competitive business, though not as competitive as finding an exact match domain–yet.

If you can’t find the exact match social media handle, this should not hold you back from using a great business name. Here’s why:

  • Your Name Matters More than Your Handle
  • People probably won’t have trouble finding your business on social media regardless
  • There are plenty of ways to get around exact match handles

Don’t Worry About a Good Handle–Worry About a Good Name!

A good business name sets the foundation for your brand. If you find a great business name, then find out that the social media handle you want is not available on Instagram, don’t let that stop you from using the name. The right name will help you grow regardless of if you have to include variations in your handles. (We will get into some different types of variations later in this article.)

If you are wondering how to name a business, a great place to start is to make sure your name is easy to say, spell, and remember. That way, when people are looking you up on social media later, you’ll be easier to find–even without an exact match social media handle.

The only time you should be worried about a social media handle conflict is if you search your potential business name on social media and find that a similar business is already occupying that username. If that is the case, you will risk confusing your customers or possibly running into trademark conflict.

If People want to Find You, They Will

In this sense, customers are a little like Liam Neeson in Taken. If they want to do business with you or learn more about you, they will find you.

The truth is, you really don’t need exact match social media handles to get by in the social sphere. As long as your business name is included in your handle, you’ll be just fine with a variation.

If people want to find your business on social media, they will. Most of the time, people do not search by social media handle, but by business name to find your business. Or, they find your social media profiles by clicking links from your site.

This means that a non-exact handle will not deter most customers from finding your business. Take Myro, the natural deodorant company that’s taking the internet by storm. Their instagram handle is @itsmymyro, but when you search for “Myro” in Instagram, they’re one of the first options to come up.

For people seeking the company, they’ll immediately see them on the list and know where to go. The first option clearly is not the natural deodorant brand they’re looking for, and customers know this.

Awesome non-exact social media handles

If your exact match handles are already taken, here are some great alternatives from the top 50 startups you can explore.

We have organized the handle variations into 5 different categories. Explore these to see which might be the best fit for your own business.

Industry Add-ons

These variations take relevant words from their industries, usually ones that directly describe what they are, and apply them to the name to create new social media handles. Here are a few examples from the list of top 50 startups:

  • HaloTop – @HaloTopCreamery
  • Skift – @SkiftNews
  • Away – @Awayluggage
  • Snowflake – @SnowflakeComputing

Industry add ons are a great way to differentiate yourself from a similar handle and let people know what you do. It’s also intuitive for people searching for you online.

Relevant Verbs and Phrases

Relevant verbs and add-ons can create memorable, impactful phrases. This can help you by keeping your username short and also making it easy to recall. Here are a few example of this in action:

  • Ripple – @RipplePay
  • Bird – @BirdRide
  • Allbirds – @weareallbirds
  • Enjoy – @GoEnjoy
  • Harri – @JobsWithHarri
  • Drift – @HeyDrift
  • Root – @JoinRoot

As you can see, there are a few directions you can go with these variations. You can prompt an action like with “Join Root,” or your can allow customers to greet your company with something like “Hey Drift.” The possibilities of these short phrases are plentiful!

Site or Platform

Another easy way to get around exact match handles is to add your domain extension or platform to your name.

  • Robinhood – @RobinhoodApp
  • Plus – @Plusdotcom or Pluscom
  • Clutch –
  • Drive –
  • Formation – @Formationai
  • Bumble – @BumbleApp
  • Noodle – @NoodleAI
  • Invision – @Invisionapp

Because customers are already thinking of your domain, using the domain as a handle is a practical approach.


A simple add on that plenty of companies use is to add Inc to the end of the name.

  • Flexport – @FlexportInc
  • Affirm – @AffirmInc
  • Plenty – @PlentyInc
  • Kattera – @KatteraInc
  • Highspot – @HighspotInc
  • Glint – @GlintInc
  • Databricks – @Databricksinc

This kind of variation shows that you are a company. This one also comes across as more professional and traditional than some of the other options.


Here are a few other variation methods we found:

  • Samsara – @SamsaraHQ
  • Ellevest – @Ellevesting
  • Convoy – @ConvoyTeam
  • Aurora – @Aurora_Inno
  • The Wing – @TheWingNYC

When you’re looking for a social media handle, don’t be afraid to think creatively. @Ellevesting is a great example of a creative approach–they turned their business name into a verb! @TheWingNYC makes use of The Wing’s hometown, New York City.

Back to You

Strong social media handle variations are short and memorable. Apply the best fit for your brand tone and business vertical to your own name to come up with a great social media handle. That way, you’ll be sure to stick in your customers’ minds and show up when people search for you.

The lack of an exact match social media handle does not have to mean the death of your dream brand name! Don’t be afraid to get creative and try out some interesting social media handle variations.

About the author


Grant Polachek

Grant Polachek is the Head of Branding at Inc 500 company, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning company name ideas.