With a billion monthly active users on Instagram - it's no shock that there is a booming market for username trade.
How do you stand out on a digital platform where the rest of world resides?
Back in the day - it was all about the blue tick. The coveted verified badge. It was an industry worth millions of dollars. Yup, that's right.
If you had the budget, you could buy your way into a blue verified badge that was supposedly exclusive to celebrities, public figures and well-known brands. A badge that conveyed notability.
But now - well ... now, we have Meta verified subscription. Anyone ... literally anyone can get a blue check mark. Doesn't matter if they're notable or not.
Now that everyone is verified ... the world of Instagram username trade is booming. It's the one last way you can stand out in a crowded social network.
Imagine if you had a first name username like @adam or @sophie - I mean, everyone would instantly know that you're someone special. You've got something going on.
So - how do you buy Instagram usernames?
To begin, we must understand the state of the username that you'd like to have.
Let's assume you'd like the username @greenplanet.
Now, this username could be inactive - meaning, someone has it but isn't using it and they haven't made a post in years.
Or, this could be an active username that someone has it and just MIGHT be willing to give it up to you for the right fee.
Well ... that's what Handle Harmony is all about. We specialize in claiming inactive Instagram usernames. We have dedicated blog about it that you can read here.
In short - we work with the internal team at Instagram (or any other social network), and get your current username updated to your desired username. No login required. Brilliant, isn't it?
Alright, what if @greenplanet was an active user and you really wanted it. You DM them and they are willing to sell it for, let's say $1000.
How do you go about it?
Well ... the process holds various risks for you as a buyer. Let's take a look.
For one ... you may make the payment, and the owner may simply choose not to honor the deal. However, if you pay via PayPal or Card - you can always dispute the transaction. So - no matter what, when buying an Instagram username, never ever ever use crypto or any other way of payment that cannot be reversed/disputed.
Next - the owner may handover the username/profile to you but later they may pull it back. Meaning, they could simply hand over the profile to you (with username/password), after which you could change the email and password. But ... here's the catch ... they can always report the account 'hacked' and get back into it by using original email/phone.
Finally ... if the owner simply let's go of the username by changing their current username to something else ... you still won't be able to register their username. In our example, if the owner changes their username from @greenplanet to @greenplanetcom ... you still won't be able to get @greenplanet. Why? Because Instagram puts usernames on a 14 day hold when someone updates their usernames. Now ... once this 14 day period passes, you could register the username ... but ... with a billion active users on Instagram ... so could anyone else take up this username.
And now you see the problem that lies with the Instagram username trade.
But, what can we do about it?
Now, to avoid all of the pitfalls and risks, you could choose to work with an agency like Handle Harmony to broker a username transfer deal for you.
Here's what we can do as a mediator -
For one - as a media partner we can bypass the 14 day wait period wherein a given username is put in limbo. And as such we can swap a username from the current owner to your account without having to wait 14 days, thus removing the risk of losing the username to someone else.
At the same time, we'd never take over the current owner's account as they could always come back by reporting 'hacked' account. Instead, we'd rename their account to @greenplanetcom and register @greenplanet on a fresh account simultaneously.
And in this way we have bypassed all the risks and drawbacks a standard username exchange entails.
So - now that you know how to buy an Instagram username the right way - let's talk about rare usernames.
Just like a car number plate or a mobile number or a domain name - usernames on Instagram (and other social networks) carry a value.
The shorter, more generic and more memorable a username - the more valuable it is.
Just like insurance.com sold for $35 million, and just as the Number Plate #1 sold for $15 million in the United Arab Emirates ... a rare username can cost anywhere from $500 to $500,000.
But ... is it just the 'cool' factor or is there something more to a rare, short and memorable username?
Well ... mainly, it's the cool factor when it comes to personal use-cases. But also, getting a first name like @david or @casey ... or a fun name like @dragon or @godfather will get you noticed a lot more than if your username was @heyitsdavid_1.
At the same time ... usernames have a hashtag value too. Let's talk about a hashtag like #wanderlust. It has 150 million posts, with hundreds of thousands of posts going up with #wanderlust.
This would also mean that this particular hashtag is searched for a lot.
Now, if you could have @wanderlust ... it would also mean that you show up a lot on the search results whenever someone's looking for #wanderlust.
And ... this would give you significant advantage when it comes to Instagram growth.
Similarly, for a brand like Insurance.com ... if they could get the username @insurance ... that would drive a lot of users/visitors to their Instagram page, and it could prove a valuable source of leads and customers.
During the NFT boom (thank god it's over), someone bought @NFT username and just because they had the perfect username, they were able to grow to over a million followers in a matter of months. Back when the whole world was searching for 'NFT', it's no surprise that @NFT on Instagram could grow at a rapid pace. And ... well .. they started charging $100k per promo post to NFT projects! Crazy, isn't it? Even if they had to pay, say, $200k for the username, they'd have made the investment back with just 2 shoutouts.
So, to sum up - the price tag for a username depends on a variety of factors -
Let me get one thing straight. 99% of the times, the marketplaces you'd find on the internet for rare usernames are bad actors.
More often than not, you'd be out of cash and have no username to show for.
For this reason ... I will not be sharing any marketplace because most of them are facades for bad actors.
Instead ... the better way is to work with an agency like Handle Harmony (duh) ... and we'd appoint a concierge for you, who'd go out, find your dream username, negotiate the pricing on your behalf, secure the username and hand it over to you in a safe and risk-free manner.
So - in a world where everyone can have a picture-perfect feed (thanks to lightroom filters, and photoshop AI), and literally anyone with $10 can have a verified check mark ... the one way that you can stand out is by having a rare username. And if this username is highly searched for ... it wouldn't take much effort to quickly grow the account.