All the good, short and brandable Instagram usernames are taken. Yes, it's an epidemic. But, how did we get here and what can we do about it?
Alright, this may sound too obvious but, here is why all the good, short and brandable usernames on Instagram are taken. It's because Instagram, as a social network is super famous (used by over a billion people every month) and ... it has been around for over a decade.
Now, imagine this. Every time someone has a great business idea - what is the first thing they do? They buy a domain name (which costs only a couple of dollars), and the immediate next thing they do is setup an Instagram account (and maybe even Facebook, Twitter and TikTok).
Now, more often than not, they may not see this idea through. I mean, it only costs a few dollars to buy a domain, and it's free to register social media accounts. So - there's really not that much on the line, is there?
I can't even count the number of times a super cool idea came to me, and I got all hyped up - I came up with a super cool name, got the domain name, the social profiles and perhaps even ordered a logo at Fiverr. And then ... well, life got in the way and I completely forgot about it.
Additionally, millions upon millions of businesses start-up and fail every year. So, a person may register a username, use it for a year or two, and then they may move onto other things.
Now, with domain names, they expire within a year unless you renew. But, with social media usernames, well - they're free and unless you delete your account, you can keep the username for as long as the social media network exists.
So - here we are. There's a lot of amazing, cool and super-brandable usernames that are inactive on Instagram. How do we get an Instagram username that is taken but not even in use?
Take the case of @greenplanet as an example. This account hasn't posted since 2011. That's 12 years of inactivity. The owner probably doesn't even remember that they have this username. While, a new start-up with the name Green Planet would have to settle for a not-so-ideal @wearegreenplanet or @green_planet or @greenplanet_official and on and on it goes.
So, how do we get taken Instagram usernames? Well, there are a couple of ways, some better than the other. Let's explore!
So - this may be too obvious, but, you can try and DM the account and see if they respond. Now, one of two things can happen. First, they may simply not respond because they no longer use the account, and don't even know/remember that they own it.
Or, they may respond. And that brings us to a complicated situation. How do you buy this Instagram off of the current owner? Let's assume they are willing to sell you this (@greenplanet) username for $500, and you PayPal them the money. Next, the account owner renames their account to something else (say, @greenplanet1), thus freeing up the desired username. But - here's the kicker. If you go to rename your account to @greenplanet, you won't be able to.
Why? Well, because Instagram would put @greenplanet on 'hold' for 14 days incase the current owner wants to revert back to it.
Alright, so now we wait for 14 days. And finally, the day arrives where we can rename our account to @greenplanet. Well, the thing is - when this 14 day period passes, @greenplanet will be available for anyone to register. That's right, Instagram wouldn't have 'reserved' it just for you. They don't know about your deal and how you paid $500 to someone to give it up.
And well - there is a whole industry of people who run networks of bots (called Turbos) who constantly scan for valuable usernames and register them the second they are available.
Chances are that the username may get snatched by a Turbo.
Getting too complicated isn't it?
Well, what if we were to take over the account of the current owner, instead of having them free it up? I mean, we can pay $500 to @greenplanet owner, and ask him to update the email to our email, and we can then login and add our phone and reset the password. That way we can avoid losing the username, and also bypass the 14 day 'hold' period, right?
Yes, that is indeed the case. But, now - you really don't have true ownership of the account. Here's why. The previous owner can also report the account 'hacked' and revert the email/phone to their original email/phone and regain access to the account anytime they want in the future.
Alright, here is the 'right' way to get an inactive Instagram username. And yes, there is a right way to do this. And, yes, this is where we plug 'Handle Harmony'.
You see, all social media networks have various types of media partnerships with all kinds of agencies.
For a general user (personal or brand), there may not be a direct person to contact at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok. But, that's because you're a general user.
Do you think ad agencies that spend $100m a year with Meta have to go through 'general' support channels like you do? Of course not. They have priority access, a dedicated concierge and a whole buffet of things that they can ask for, which you can't.
A record-label agency like Sony, or a company like Disney that spends >$200 million on Facebook ads every year - they have a completely different level of access at Meta than you have.
And this applies to even smaller agencies - be it social media agencies, ad agencies and others. These agencies have a 'media partner access' via which they can request for things like Username Changes, Verifications, Unbans, Bans of Impersonating Accounts, Account Merges, Hack Recovery, etc.
Imagine this for a moment. Imagine that a well known artist signed with SONY, their Instagram account get's hacked. Do you think they will have to submit a 'general' Instagram support request (which by the way rarely ever replies?). Of course not! Do you think, back in the day when you didn't have 'verified badge subscriptions', larger artists had to just 'wait' until someone at Meta decided to give them a blue badge? Of course, not!
Coming back to the point - different types of agencies have different levels of access as 'media partner' at Meta (which owns Instagram and Facebook). And this applies to TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and any other social network you can think of.
Now, working with an agency, you can request to have a username that is taken but inactive. The agency would simply file a request on your behalf, fill out the paperwork - and if the desired username is indeed inactive/dormant, the internal team at Instagram would simply update your current username to your desired username.
In our example, let's say you had @green_planet, and you wanted @greenplanet. Well, if you work with Handle Harmony, we'll file the request, fill out the paperwork and work with the internal team at Instagram who will then update your current username from @green_planet to @greenplanet. Best part? You wouldn't have to give us your login details or access either. Why? Well - because the username update would be done by the internal team at Instagram.
Alright, so - before you get mind running, you can't get any name you desire just because you work with an agency.
The request should and must hold some merit and reason.
Meaning, if you already have a page named @green_planet and want it updated to @greenplanet, then it's a solid request.
However, if you currently own @green_planet and want the username to be updated to @bobbi, well, that doesn't make much sense, now, does it?
With that out of the way, there are a few more things to note. For one, you can only request for usernames that are longer than five characters in length. Why is there such a limit? Well ... that's a long story, and I'll do a full blog on that, I promise.
Additionally, the username you desire should have been inactive for at least 1.5 years and should not be banned. Meaning, as an agency like Handle Harmony makes a username change request for you, the internal team will only give you your desired username provided that it has been inactive (not logged in to) for at least 1.5 years.
And finally, the desired username cannot be too generic - no first names or nouns or generic words like @pizza, @god or @james. Why? Well ... that's a long story, and I'll do a full blog on that in the future, I promise!
And with that, we now know what types of usernames you can and cannot get.
Now, you'll see a ton of blogs out there that don't know any better who'd suggest several methods to get an inactive IG username. And well - rest assured, these are just a waste of time and do not work.
Yeah, this doesn't work at all. Reporting an inactive account will not lead to Instagram outright deleting the account just so that you can have it. Mass reporting the account can (in rare cases) get the target account banned. But - if an account is banned, then that username is banned and thus it cannot be claimed and is gone forever.
Tagging @Instagram onto the posts of your desired username? Yeah - you can spend an eternity trying to do that. It won't get you the username.
Well ... again ... Instagram has a billion users. The chances of them replying to your email and then taking the time to give you the username are close to zero.
So - now you know that there is a way to get inactive username on Instagram and every other social media network. And this is how a lot of the brands, start-ups, public figures always seem to get their hands on perfect, matching and brandable usernames.
Looking to get an inactive username on Instagram? Contact us and our username wizards will make it happen in no time!