Thinking about starting a business? Get all your names reserved!
You might be thinking of starting a business, or already have an established one. Either way, you need to get your online usernames and domain name sorted – as soon as you can.
Assuming you have a business name, you will need to reserve all the appropriate social media usernames, as well as your domain name. The sooner you do it the better. Social media accounts are free, but domain names will cost you about £10 a year depending on the provider.
How to choose a domain name and username
If at all possible – you should really go for usernames that are identical across all the big social media platforms. If these happen to match your domain name then all the better, as it will make it easier for you to remembers, and if it is easier for you to remember then it will be easier for your customers to remember.
Twitter and instagram will allow you to create an account quite easily, whether you are registering a personal or business account, but for Facebook you need to create a business page, and there are some good instructions on this hootsuite post on how to do that.
Use an unrelated email address
This point I feel is an important one: and is not one I know of many people to follow. When you register a social media account or a domain name, try not to use an email address that is attached to your company domain name. You may already have a Hotmail, Gmail or other free-to-use email account you use and that is fine – as no customer will ever see these email addresses when interacting with these services.
The reason for this is simple: if one day you somehow manage to lose control of your domain name – which is very unlikely if you follow some simple security recommendations – then you have your own, unaffiliated email address where all domain name renewal reminders and security notices will be sent to. If your domain name has been compromised, or if your website goes down, then you have a fail-safe access point to regain control.
Like I said, it is very unlikely that this will happen, but in my eyes it is just good practice to do this. If you are worried about having too many email accounts then don’t worry – the chances are that your website designer will be able to set up your new professional business email address alongside your personal address if that is what you wish. For larger organisations this may not be appropriate though.
Buy your domain name – but choose wisely
It can be tempting to search for “free domain names” on Google but I fear that there will always be a catch with free domain names, or very cheap ones. When a domain name costs £10 or less to buy for a year it is hardly worth shopping around. If you have a colleague, friend or associate that recommends a domain name registrar, chances are they are fine! You can always search for the company by name and investigate their reviews on an independent review website.
Make sure you find out what the renewal fees are before you buy.
For those that do not have any recommendations, I use Krystal for web hosting and domain names and have done so for some years. They are based in the UK and the technical support has always been excellent – I highly recommend them!
Oh, and don’t worry about buying all the versions. For example, .com is designed for American based businesses and .co.uk for UK businesses.
What company name to choose?
You should always choose a name that best suits your business. I cannot tell you a formula or method but here are two great resources you should glance your eyes over:
Whatever you choose, if the company name doesn’t match any available domain names or usernames, it’s not the end of the world. Perhaps you can come up with an associated word or nice play on words that will suit it?
What if the name you chose, and this is only an example, was Apple and you happened to be a fresh fruit company? Obviously Apple.com is not available, neither are the usernames. But www.thefreshfruitco.co.uk is available (at time of writing) and chances are – the usernames on Facebook, twitter et al would be too. A great compromise.
Want to improve your online business presence?
Read our blog post on “things you can do now to improve your online presence“, which shows how to claim your free listings on Google, Bing, Yell and more.