I recently made a half serious post on FriendFeed as to whether or not you would name your child if the domain of their name wasn’t available. Perhaps I was taking it a little overboard but if you ask the same question to any company trying to come up with a name it goes well beyond making sure the domain name is available.
Locking down brand names across all social media sites is not just an issue for big companies and celebrities. Internet addicts like myself are extremely particular about having a consistent username across all sites. I can only imagine the anguish of those who were late to Twitter and don’t have their username of choice.
In order to address the mounting task of reserving your username across the web a number of sites are available offering varying degrees of service offerings:
namechk – namechk.com (free)
Namechk checks username availability across 122 sites. Unlike the two sites below, namechk does not offer username monitoring or any additional pay services.
KnowEm – knowem.com (free + pay option)
KnowEm checks username availability across 120 sites. There are also two premium service options. You can pay them a one time fee of $64.95 to register all of your unclaimed usernames that they have in their 120 site database. Another option is to subscribe monthly. KnowEm promises to register your username on your behalf with all the new sites that crop up every month (up to 16 per month). They also promise beta invites to subscribers as well.
Friends Call Me – friendscall.me (free)
Many people might be familiar with the team behind Friends Call Me as they are the same group who run the popular color and design community website COLOURlovers.com. Friends Call Me offers the ability to check usernames across more than 150 sites. What’s also quite useful is that the site organizes the websites it checks by category. Like KnowEm, the site also monitors new sites and notifies you about them. However, Friends Call Me doesn’t offer to register them for you for a fee (like KnowEm) – you must register them yourself. Friends Call Me also offers something the above services don’t – a landing page for all your profiles. Other sites like FriendFeed, Retaggr and DandyID provide similar functionality but this addition is a great compliment to the Friends Call Me offering.
Some may consider using one of the above services to register usernames on some of the more obscure sites to be overkill and a waste of time. However, it’s all about hedging the possibility that some no-name site today will be the Twitter of tomorrow.
As an aside, if you are launching a new social media site I would recommend requesting to be added to the sites that are checked on these services. On each site there is a “Suggest a Site” button that allows for suggestions. It’s an interesting marketing tactic that you may not have thought of.