Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 10, 200910:21 PM

Attention Marketers: Prepare For The Facebook Land Grab This Weekend

Starting at midnight Saturday, individuals can now claim their own Facebook vanity URL (or, as Facebook is calling them, Facebook Username).

The net result is that instead of having your Facebook profile located at: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=693655025&ref=profile as of this weekend, it could become something sexy like: http://www.facebook.com/mitchjoel.

It won't be a smooth transition and people will do stupid things.

While this is not like being able to buy as many domain names as you would like (Facebook is limiting Facebook Usernames to one per profile), there will still be instances where individuals will try to capture brand names or more generic terms (think www.facebook.com/apple and www.facebook.com/marketing). While Facebook has already made applications available to protect trademarks and IP infringements. It also has language on the website that states: "Facebook reserves the right to remove and/or reclaim any username at any time for any reason."

Is it really worth getting a Facebook Username?

In short, yes... and here's why:

  1. Consistency - make it point to try and have the same username across all of the platforms so that you are easier to find (as an example: you can always find me as "mitchjoel").
  2. Google and the other search engines will begin crawling everything (including password protected online social networks), so owning a relevant domain in spaces like Facebook is a smart move. If not for today, then for the future.
  3. For Facebook to grow, they're going to have to make the platform more accessible. Being able to tell someone verbally that, "you can find me at Facebook.com forward slash Mitch Joel" will make Facebook more spreadable. My guess is that people will start listing their Facebook username on business cards and the like.
  4. If there's someone out there with a similar name or company name, it would be wise to be the first one to get the Facebook username for yourself.

What do you think about this whole Facebook Username idea? Hype? The real deal? Good for marketing? Meh?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Clare Hitchens
    Mitch Joel

    I think it's a great idea. People are already doing it with twitter so why not Facebook. Saves always having to embed the long link in a post and as you say, you can now print it out on cards, etc.

    I'm pretty sure that my friends who only use FB for fun won't bother, but since I use it for work it makes total sense to simplify the address.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Boyle
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch - I agree with you precisely on this (not a huge surprise) but I think you've captured what a lot of commentators in the last day or so seem to be downplaying a little bit.

    I think this is a huge move by Facebook, a way to even more put the site in the mainstream - and less than ever as a closed system but as a real Internet site - addressable from everywhere, by everyone.

    I also think it's a very important power play on their part, and very smart on that basis.

    Now, if "below" your name you were able to directly address your wall (i.e., facebook.com/mikelbyl/wall/) it really takes the site in interesting directions. Suddenly it's by far the largest blogging platform in the world, for instance (and by far).

    For a humourous take on this, you have to check out Anil Dash's blog post today: http://dashes.com/anil/2009/06/the-future-of-facebook-usernames.html

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris
    Mitch Joel

    Not much to add after that last blog. However, I believe that the vanity names are a move to improve SEO for the public facebook pages.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeff Lancaster
    Mitch Joel

    Like you say I think this is very important for individuals and companies from a consistency point of view.

    Facebook doesn't seem to be slowing down, so having a similar nomenclature on all your social media avenues is an advantage you might as well seize.

    Reply
  • Posted by mark b
    Mitch Joel

    can we please turn the social marketing conversation to more important stuff?
    if your idea / product / brand sucks - its going to suck whether it has a sexy facebook URL or not.
    focusing on the easy problems, everyone can solve - makes my job - actually trying to get proper brands to do real, interesting, worthwhile stuff online - that much harder
    google, twitter and every other stratospherically successful online service with a bonkers surely renders makes this conversation irrelevant
    there are a million more important issues to occupy us - lets talk about how we can get brands to understand the power of data in their social marketing strategy, how we can borrow old school marketing engagement theory to sell social marketing more effectively - lets talk about “borrowed relevance� or debate the relative merits of conversation tracking software against monitoring applications - these are the things I've discussed with clients in the last 24hrs – facebook URLs were never mentioned - for good reason.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ed Healy
    Mitch Joel

    Ease of use is the biggest advantage to me. The odd nomenclature that Facebook uses for URLs forced me to play with services like profile.to in the past. Recently, I'd been considering using URLs such as facebook.ephealy.com, in concert with redirects, to remedy the URL issue. With vanity URLs, I won't have to.

    Reply
  • Posted by Promod Sharma
    Mitch Joel

    Why did Facebook take so long to let us have sensible URLs? That's the mystery. LinkedIn and Twitter give us choice.

    I'm not sure about point 3. Why would you put Facebook on your business card? LinkedIn maybe. Better still, why not a link to your public Google Profile instead? Best is having your own personal website.

    Reply
  • Posted by Noah
    Mitch Joel

    It will most definitely be a sh*t show. Have you seen http://bit.ly/fufacebook yet? Pretty hilarious prediction of what's to come.

    Of course I'll be there to snap up my personal usernames and for my brands/pages. It was never a problem in the past getting them on Twitter, etc., because I was always early to the sites, but now you have 200 million people going for it at the same time. Will people take my consistently used handle? Will I not be given first dibs considering I was on the site within days of its launch?

    Only Friday will tell!

    (Great blog, podcast, and firm Joel! Keep it up!)

    Reply
  • Posted by Brian Hancock
    Mitch Joel

    No question it will be nice to snatch up your name to get the pretty Facebook URL, but if you take something other than your full name spelled out, it could actually hurt the SEO of your profile because the current URLs always have your full name in them (along with other nonsense..).

    Reply
  • I think it is a great deal to have.....as it will going to encourage those who are leading their business and to grow it through this.....

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike
    Mitch Joel

    I got my name as the username.

    You don't need 1,000 Fans to get your own username.

    Your Facebook account must be registered before June 9 as the only criteria.

    Mike

    Reply
  • This criteria will going to be the best as this is something that is the best way to have the Facebook URL.

    Thanks for letting me know through your post.

    Reply
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