Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Facebook Vanity URL Stakeout

If your association or company has a presence on Facebook, I know you feel my pain: how do you direct people to your company's public profile? It's easy enough if you're just linking to the profile from a web page, email or blog post--you just contextualize the link. But to promote your page in a print piece: a newsletter or,worse yet, on a coupon or business card--you may as well just forget it. If you've tried to do it you know exactly what I'm talking about: you have a choice of either

"Visit our page on Facebook by going to Facebook and doing a search for 'American Speech-Language-Hearing Association' " [which results in this, thereby thoroughly confusing people]


"Visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Speech-Language-Hearing-Association/26971470317" [I have seen a coupon like this from a restaurant and it was just plain pathetic looking]

Neither is a good option.

It's especially bad when you're, say, The American Cancer Society--how in the world is anyone supposed to know which is your "real" page?

But your life may be about to get a lot easier--IF you don't miss the boat. According to TechCrunch and Inside Facebook, Facebook is about to allow users to claim vanity urls (for example, www.facebook.com/maggiemcgary). Which means that you will also be able to claim--in theory, at least--a Facebook url for your company that is fit to print.

When will this be happening? It's anybody's guess--although according to TechCrunch, an announcement could come "later this week." Your best bet is to watch Twitter--I'm sure it will be big news on Twitter when it does happen. You can also check this page on Facebook--they claim that they will post instructions there about how to obtain vanity urls.

Not to pressure you or anything if your company or association is still dragging its feet about getting into social media, but you REALLY should think about at a minimum grabbing a user-friendly Facebook url the minute they're available. As far as I'm concerned, Facebook is like the Wild West--growing like crazy (at latest count, over 200 million unique users and, total U.S. time spent on it last year up 700%)--who knows where it will all lead. Especially if vanity urls are free, I see it as a no-brainer; it's like a free insurance policy. And if you never end up using it, who knows--maybe you'll be able to sell it for big bucks.

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