Weight Watchers announced yesterday that they would be re-branding themselves as WW. If you’ve seen any of the comments on Twitter in the past 24 hours I’m sure you’ve noticed the name change isn’t exactly being embraced by fans. Quite the opposite, in fact, as it’s quickly become the target of a barrage of humorous insults such as only the internet can deliver.
Whether or not Weight Watchers will be hurt or helped by the re-branding remains to be seen. But it brings to light a dilemma that a lot of new business startups face on social media, one which they often come to us with when choosing how to register their own unique brand names on social media. Specifically, what’s the best username length, and can we help with registering a really short username on social media these days (or, for that matter, a really long one)?
The short answer is, we probably can’t. While KnowEm’s database of all social networks has grown and shrunk each month over the years as we continually track the most popular social networks as well as new up and comers, one thing has remained constant. There are very few sites which will let you register a username with only 2 letters. The exact number is somewhere around 15% – but of course, good luck finding a 2-letter username that you want that is also still available! Most short names have already been taken on the older, more established sites. The same goes for longer names – many sites follow Twitter’s lead and impose a hard limit of 14 characters, so you can’t register a username of 15 or more letters or numbers (about 35% or so allow more than 15). This simply means brands have to get a little more creative when choosing a username – something we’re more than happy to assist with.
Since Weight Watchers is very well known and are just re-branding, they probably could have just kept their name @weightwatchers. But it appears they’ve chosen @ww_us as their new, shorter handle to align with the re-branding. I’m sure they didn’t have a choice for WW, because of course, many prime 2 letter username options like @ww are already taken! But appending an underscore and a geographic location to their 2 letter brand is a common, and very useful, technique when trying to lengthen the name to secure the same username on as many social networks as possible (adding INC or LLC is probably just as popular as adding a geographic location).
Perhaps the best lesson here for new startups concerned with their short brand name is the more proactive you are in registering your brand name sooner, the more success you’ll have in ensuring it’s consistency across as many social networks as possible. And as always, ask a few people just to make sure they don’t laugh at you before committing to a new name.