Lifestyle

Influencers are offering thousands of dollars for valuable Instagram handles

They’re flying off the handle.

Clout chasing content creators and influencers are going to great lengths to secure coveted social media handles — bullying, bribing and feuding to get their desired usernames.

In May, Katherine Asplundh, née Driscoll, the new wife of billionaire Pennsylvania tree service heir Cabot Asplundh, made headlines for allegedly trying to push an Instagram user to sell her the handle @KatherineAsplundh. When that didn’t work, the 27-year-old grew aggressive and threatened the woman in a nasty message exchange that was eventually made public.

Katherine Asplundh, the new wife of billionaire Pennsylvania tree service heir Cabot Asplundh, made headlines for allegedly trying to push an Instagram user to sell her the handle @KatherineAsplundh. @katherinedrisc/Instagram
Asplundh grew aggressive and threatened the other Kate Asplundh in the exchange pictured here that was made public last month. StringSilly2839/Reddit

In the wake of it all, Asplundh went silent on social media for nearly a month, before surfacing this past weekend to Instagram the wedding of her brother-in-law Carl and with his long-time partner Savanna Smith from her maiden-name account @Katherinedrisc, which has 15,000 followers.

“Special day celebrating @carl48 and @savanna_smith5,” Asplundh wrote in an Instagram story with a picture of the newly wedded couple, who had extra reason to celebrate. Smith has already secured the Instagram handle @savanna_asplundh with seeming ease.

While Asplundh may have come out looking like a rich newlywed nitwit, locals with more humble means can sympathize with her plight.

It took months of persistence for Natalie Rae, 25, a nurse and content creator who goes by her first and middle name, to secure her Instagram moniker in 2021. At the time, she wanted to expand her content, initially rooted in her healthcare career as a nurse, to have broader lifestyle appeal. Courtesy of Natalie Rae
First, Rae tried direct messaging @NatalieRae. When they didn’t reply, she messaged @NatalieeRaeee, the next best username. Courtesy of Natalie Rae

It took months of persistence for Natalie Rae, 25, a nurse and content creator who goes by her first and middle name, to secure her Instagram moniker.

First, Rae tried direct messaging @NatalieRae. When they didn’t reply, she messaged @NatalieeRaeee, the next best username.

At first, that handle’s owner wasn’t helpful.

“She said, ‘I have no idea who you are,’’’ recalled Rae, who has 193,000 followers on TikTok, and 5,272 on Instagram.

Initially, the handle holder of @NatalieeRaeee was not willing to hand over her username. But after months of back and forth — and after her followers kept accidentally tagging the wrong Natalie on Instagram — the other Natalie Rae gave in and changed her username. “She basically said, ‘I had enough. Just take the user name … and I switched all of my accounts so fast,” Rae said. Courtesy of Natalie Rae

Then she started “like bombing” her photos to get her attention, still to no avail.

But, when her followers started tagging the other Natalie Rae on Instagram out of honest confusion, the woman eventually gave in and agreed to surrender her handle.

“She basically said, ‘I had enough. Just take the user name … and I switched all of my accounts so fast,” Rae said of the other Natalie Rae, who could not be reached for comment. “Once you start to grow on social media and you’re building your own platform as the face of your own brand … you don’t want anyone to take that from you. It’s territorial.”

Just a few months after securing the new handle, Rae’s follower count surged, prompting her to get more brand deals and partnerships. She told The Post her business grew by 80%.

Just a few months after securing the new handle, Rae’s follower count surged, prompting her to get more brand deals and partnerships. She told The Post her business grew by 80%.

Things don’t always end so happily. Upper East Side-based real estate agent Anna Gorelik told The Post that, in 2020, she was approached by a marketing company who wanted her handle @Milkyourmoments.

She said the company agreed to pay her $1,000 for the name, but then backed out of the deal and took the handle @MilkYouMoment instead.

“They got back to me and said ‘after speaking with their legal team it’s against Instagram’s policy,” she recalled.

Indeed, Instagram’s terms and conditions appear to prohibit users from selling, buying or transferring any aspect of their account, including their username, but that doesn’t prevent it from happening.

Real estate agent Anna Gorelik told The Post that, in 2020, she was approached by a marketing company who wanted her handle @Milkyourmoments. Paul Mileman

The account @MilkYourMoment did not return a request for comment.

Sunny Tsao, 28, a beauty influencer from Jersey City, tried to buy the handle @Sunny from a user with that handle on TikTok. Doing so also appears to be prohibited by the company’s Terms of Service, and she said the account owner quoted her a whopping $5,000, about five times what she was willing to pay.

The account @Sunny declined the Post’s request to comment.

Then Tsao found a user with the name @SunnyTsao that appeared to have a low follower account. She emailed TikTok arguing that the user was inactive and requesting they reassign her the handle.

Sunny Tsao, 28, a beauty influencer from Jersey City, tried to buy the handle @Sunny from a user with that handle on TikTok, but when the user replied back asking for $5,000, she declined to entertain the offer.
Tsao found a user on TikTok with the same username she already has on Instagram, @SunnyTsao, so she emailed TikTok arguing that the user was inactive and requesting they reassign her the handle. When that didn’t work out she settled on her current handle, @Sunny.Tsao on TikTok.
Tsao has struggled because her Instagram and TikTok usernames are slightly different

The company denied her request. Eventually, she settled on @Sunny.Tsao, but she’s still on the hunt for a similar handle without a pesky period. 

“Hopefully, one day I’ll get it,” she sighed. “That’s up to the heavens, I guess.”