What’s an Instagram Handle? Everything You Need to Know About Your Online Identity

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 24, 2024

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Chances are, you’ve probably heard the phrase Instagram handle floating around. If you’re new to the social media site, you may not be familiar with this lingo. After all, with new online platforms often comes new phrases and vocabulary to learn. Have you found yourself wondering, what’s an Instagram handle? If so, you’re not alone. Allow us to break it down for you and give you a little insight into all things username related.

Like all social media sites, Instagram lets you sign up for the app by choosing a username and password. This name, commonly referred to as an Instagram handle, is the name that the virtual world will know you by. Handle is simply the slang way of referring to it. Ready to know more? Keep reading as we walk you through the basics of understanding what’s an Instagram handle. We’ll cover everything you need to know, whether you’re an individual user or business owner. By the end, you’ll be an Instagram expert who can easily create, change and advertise your own handle.

Person holding smartphone open to Instagram app to learn what’s an Instagram handle.

What Is My Handle on Instagram?

We know things can get a bit confusing between all the social websites out there. With all the usernames and passwords you have to remember, you’ve probably asked yourself, what is my handle on Instagram? Well, it’s a unique-to-you name that you are able to select. It serves as your social identity on the platform. If you’re just starting out on social media, we are here to guide you as you learn what’s an Instagram handle. Below, take a look at how to create an Instagram handle when you sign up for the app. And since your preferences are ever evolving, we’ll also let you know how to change your username at any time.

What’s an Instagram Handle: How to Create One

Creating your Instagram handle is easy. In fact, it is one of the required steps you’ll take when you sign up for the social platform. If you’re unsure about the process, allow us to walk you through it. Grab your smartphone or computer and keep reading to learn how to sign up for your own Instagram account.

  1. First, download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or the Google Play Store (Android). If you don’t have a smartphone, you can also access Instagram from a computer by going to www.instagram.com.
  2. Once the app has downloaded, open it by clicking on the Instagram icon from your phone screen.
  3. If you’re on an iPhone, you’ll select create new account. For Android users, look for sign up with email or phone number. You can also sign in using your Facebook account. This will automatically link your accounts on both social media platforms.
  4. Enter your phone number or email address⸺whichever you prefer. Note that using your phone number will require sending a confirmation code to your phone as a text message.
  5. From here, the screen will prompt you to create a username and password then fill out your profile info.
  6. Once you sign up, you can follow others and their posts and stories will be shown in your feed. From friends and family members to companies and celebrities, you’ll find it all on Instagram.

Keep in mind that there are a few requirements Instagram has in place for usernames. What’s an Instagram handle that will be approved? Your selected name can contain both characters and numbers although there is a 30 character limit. Periods are the only special characters that are allowed at this time. And, of course, your username must be unique to you. More on that later on below.

What’s an Instagram Handle: How to Change One

Of course, it’s common to change your mind over time. Have you found yourself not feeling your current handle anymore? Not to worry. Changing your Instagram username is easy. Whether you have a new legal name, a different business venture or simply want to change things up, you can. Follow our simple steps below for how to test out a new handle.

  1. Grab your phone and open your Instagram account. Head to your profile by clicking on your photo icon at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
  2. From here, select edit profile, located just below your name and profile picture. 
  3. A new screen will pop up, from which you can change your display name, username or profile photo. You will also be able to add in your preferred pronouns, as well as a website and short bio if you choose.
  4. Tap on username, where you will see a new screen to enter your new preferred IG handle of choice.
  5. Select done from the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Wondering what an Instagram handle name change looks like if you have an account with a large following? Well, your new username may need reviewing and approval by Instagram before it’s changed. In this case, you will receive a notification when the review is complete. For all other accounts, your Instagram handle name change will be effective immediately. If you come to realize you prefer your old name better, you are in luck. Instagram will lock your old username for 14 days, which will block others from taking it within that time period. This way, you can easily switch back if you want. It makes experimenting with a new username a little less scary.

Woman holding phone to figure out what's an Instagram handle.

How Do I Know What My Instagram Handle Is?

Now that we’ve covered exactly what’s an Instagram handle, you may be wondering if you already have one. Well, if you have previously signed up for an Instagram account, then the answer is yes. But perhaps you’ve forgotten what you chose when you signed up. Or maybe someone else set up your account for you and you’re not sure what username they used. Either way, it can be frustrating to not have this information easily at hand. Have you ever asked yourself, how do I know what my Instagram handle is? We are here to help. There are easy ways to locate and learn your Instagram handle. 

If you are already logged into your account, you can find your handle by accessing your profile. You can do this by clicking on the thumbnail of your profile picture at the bottom left hand corner of your screen. From your profile page, you’ll see your username displayed at the top left hand side of the screen. If you’ve forgotten your Instagram handle and are not logged in, gaining access will take a few extra steps. You do have the option of logging in with the email or phone number you provided when you created your account. In some cases, you might not have access to the phone or email account. If this should happen, you will need to create a new account with another username and password. Always make sure to record this information for the future. 

Now that we’ve got that squared away, you may be wondering what’s an Instagram handle used for inside the app. It’s also helpful to know exactly who can see your username and profile for privacy purposes. Below, let’s take a quick refresher course on the basics when it comes to this social media powerhouse.

What’s an Instagram Handle Used For?

Your Instagram handle will guide you through your online social experience. It will be how you are referred to by your friends and followers when they tag, comment and mention you. What’s an Instagram handle used for within the app? A lot, actually. When you post a photo, it will be shown to your followers with your username attached. The same applies to any Instagram stories you share or reshare. Your handle will also be visible when you comment or like another user’s content. If people tag or mention you in their posts, they will do so by using your Instagram handle. This means that their followers will also be able to see this information.

If you prefer to keep your online identity a bit more private, you can easily adjust your privacy settings. To review these, head on over to your profile page. From here, select the more icon represented by three lines in the upper right hand corner. Click on settings then privacy. This page will allow you to change and set all your interactions and connections. Things like who can and cannot see your posts, mentions and tags are easy to update. You can also block or restrict other Instagram users for added invisibility on the app. Feel confident that you have full control over your online presence. 

Person holding phone on table while scrolling through Instagram.

Tips to Create the Best Possible Username

Committing to an Instagram handle can seem a bit intimidating. This will be how you are known to the virtual world. Wondering what’s an Instagram handle that will best suit you? We’ve got some insider tips and tricks for coming up with plenty of possible options. Like we said before, you’re working with a 30 character limit, so you want to maximize your space. In some cases, the Instagram handle of your choice might already be in use by another person. While this can feel disappointing, there are ways to creatively re-work the username to make it work for you. For example, try adding periods or underscores to differentiate yourself. You can also add in numbers to make your IG handle ready to claim as your own.

Another top tip? You’ll also want to have a consistent username across all social platforms and social accounts. This rings especially true if you are a brand or business. Why? It lets your followers quickly identify you no matter what social channel they are browsing on. Plus, it’s easier to remember just one name instead of multiple. Need a couple username ideas to get you started? No matter if you’re an individual or a business, we’ve got a few key points to keep in mind below. Just remember, it’s all about a mix between creativity and practicality. After all, what’s an Instagram handle without a little fun?

Usernames for Personal Account

For beginners, it’s easiest to look no further than, well, yourself. That’s right. Many people prefer to use their first and last name as their Instagram handle. Of course, there is a chance that your name might be so popular that it’s already taken. In this case, you can easily take our above advice and add on periods, underscores or a variety of numbers. 

Naturally, some people prefer to not include their legal name in their Instagram handle for security purposes. If this is true for you, it can be challenging to think up a name. Another thing you can base your Instagram handle off of? Your interests or hobbies. For example, feel free to incorporate your love of animals, gardening or the ocean into your username.

Usernames for Professional Accounts

What’s an Instagram handle that will stand out for a brand or business? When choosing this, you’ll want to take a little extra care. Make sure it is something that relates to your brand and incorporates the business name. It is also important that the IG handle is easy to read and remember. Try also including what type of business you are or what city or state you are located in. This will allow your audience to quickly identify you and, hopefully, decide to follow you. In fact, Instagram is one of the best social media tools to use in order or grow your business. Looking for some more ways to profit from the app? Keep reading as we deep dive into ways to turn your account into profits.

Woman taking photos of products for her Instagram handle.

Promoting and Advertising Your Instagram Username

Whether you are promoting a business, brand or yourself, your Instagram will be how you advertise to the virtual world. Social media has proven to be a great tool to promote and grow your company. To continue this, you’ll want to make sure you are properly highlighting and advertising yourself to your audience. This will help to get more Instagram followers and grow your engagement, which can lead to a profitable experience. After all, what’s an Instagram handle good for if not a little self-promotion?

To start, make sure you list your handle everywhere you list your brand name, phone number and email address. It is especially important to include it on business cards and in your email signature. Want to think outside the box a little? Get creative and have a little fun with advertising yourself. Include it on receipts, thank you cards or even stickers that you include with customer purchases. If you have a brick and mortar location, try advertising your Instagram handle on your window display or front entrance. This way, it will be top of mind for your customers both as they enter and exit.

At Path Social, we’ve built up an in-house platform of Instagram influencers and a proprietary AI targeting algorithm over the past decade. That’s how we reach organic users that will remain interested and engaged. And that’s why no one can replicate our results, which means you’ll build an Instagram community that lasts! Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today.