A screengrab of the spreadsheet, with scribbles on it to illustrate how it works

Reserving multiple usernames on social media sites

Why reserve account names?

I think it is important that social media accounts for an organisation are formulaic – if a user finds one of my accounts, I want them to easily guess the others so they can find the account most relevant to them. It also helps to make them look “official” if they are similar in name, appearance and content.

The downside is that this leaves us open to cybersquatting and imitation. If a legitimate user can guess what the London variant (for instance) of a username is going to be, then so can a cybersquatter. That said, I believe it is a worthwhile trade off – especially if you reserve the relevant account names before the cybersquatters get wind of what you are up to!

Effectively this is a guide to low-level cybersquatting. I apologise for that, but hope you will use the tips for good, rather than evil!

Plan ahead

Think of your usernames as being made of two parts; the variant (which changes with each account name) and the static root (suffix or prefix).

Start by listing out all the variants you are ever likely to need. Then consider the possible roots. Your next task is to make sure that, for every root and variant combination:

  • The combination is available
  • The combination of root and variant is “legal” (usually meaning not too long)1
  • The combination doesn’t have a hidden or inappropriate meaning2

1: The classic example is a Twitter username where the maximum is 15 characters, but you should be aiming for shorter.
2: Powergen once launched a website for their Italian subsidiary called powergenitalia.com…see more

I can’t help with the third one, but this spreadsheet I created might help you sort issue 1 and 2.
UsernameChecker (uses Macros, requires internet access to function fully)

A screengrab of the spreadsheet, with scribbles on it to illustrate how it works

When you have filled it out, hit Shift+F9 to run my custom User Defined Function that checks if the username is already taken on Twitter and Facebook (it doesn’t calculate each time you update as it uses the FB and Twitter APIs so the spreadsheet is quicker to update).

The spreadsheet is offered as is – I am unlikely to do any more development on it – but I hope you find it useful. If you do, please leave a comment!

Next page: reserving usernames on Twitter

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