So the Facebook vanity URL goldrush is on… In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Facebook has basically announced that since this past weekend you could log in and get a username. Instead of getting to my FB profile with a long-ass url, you could hit up. www.facebook.com/ryanmiller315 – easier to remember, right? It fits on a biz card, or an email signature.
That’s the upside. The downside is that its first come first serve (not really a downside I guess) but once you choose your url, that’s it. You can’t change it. EVER. So before you decide you want your FB url to be BigSexy99, think again. Its like getting a really bad tattoo. My friend Katie has a good post on this as well that I caught as I was writing…
But inevitably there are going to be lots of Ryan Millers out there so the chance that I would get my own name was slim to none. Alas, I’m stuck with something less than ideal.
Where there has been a lot of excitement is when it was announced that brands (fan pages) can also get a vanity url. I could hit up www.facebook.com/cnn – again, easier to remember. The downside? You need to have at least 1,000 fans to qualify. So I really can’t get the hook up for my indie music fan page. That sucks.
But is this huge news for brands? Gary V. did a quick video about this announcement and thinks its a game changer. But I have to disagree. Sure, its convenient and for brands that are already playing in that space, its a nice addition and a welcome tool for establishing a presence on the network. But I don’t think its earth shattering.
First of all, I think FB is a much better platform than MySpace was, in terms of organization, applications and visual layout. One of the reasons I think people left MySpace in droves was because it was almost too open. I couldn’t deal with dancing hamster backgrounds and Tide Detergent adding me as a friend when I wasn’t a fan to begin with. Facebook however, isn’t nearly as customizable as it could be and while its a good platform to interact with fans that are already on that platform – as a brand I have much more flexability for design and features on my own website (should I have the time and budget to invest in building what I want).
I’ve also read that this will be great from a marketing standpoint… But why would I market my facebook URL as a brand? I know its the next ‘cool thing’ but if you’re a business that is doing work in social spaces, marketing on Facebook alone isn’t going to cut it. Maybe you have a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook account… Why then would you market the Facebook page? I think its a better idea to get people to your website and link them off to the platform that they prefer. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be doing outreach on EACH platform, but to pimp your FB page on a billboard isn’t a battle plan.
So how could a brand still capitalize on this if they dont’ have 1000 followers or got beat in the gold rush? My advice is to standardize and redirect. If you’re a business and don’t own a domain name, (ryancmiller.com) spend the $10 and get one. You’ll be glad you did. Then I would make sure that all my pages on social networks are easily accessible from my main website or blog. And finally, if you want to pimp your facebook url but didnt’ get a vanity url – just build a simple redirect page (here’s how) that takes you to the Facebook Fan page when you hit www.yourdomain.com/facebook . Its simple. You can change it. and It Works.
What do you guys think? Does having a FB vanity url matter for people or brands? Is it a game changer? Am I full of crap? More importantly, did YOU get the url you wanted?