Last friday night A week ago friday, at midnight hundreds of thousands of you around the world rushed to grab the vanity url (http://facebook.com/username) of your dreams. Within minutes millions of names had been snatched up, leaving many frustrated that they couldn’t be the numero uno Mike or Steve on facebook, but it also meant a lot of fake accounts were setup to snatch generic names as well.

Apparently Facebook had thought of making it an auction, or charging for names, but ultimately decided against it because of the server load issues that would have ensued.  Personally I think they should have charged for fan pages to get custom urls if they are going to be used for commercial purposes, that’s only fair.  Those of us that didn’t secure names for our fan pages will have to wait until the 28th when they open it up to the rest of the world (i.e. the 99% of pages with under 1000 fans).

One thing though that was really silly was all the people who snatched up names thinking they were going to be able to sell them later. The thing is these people were getting the names/keywords for personal profiles, not fan pages. Its a collosal waste to build a brand or product offering on facebook using a personal profile and not a fan page. I’ll get into the whys later, but just know that you are seriously wasting opportunity by using a personal profile account for a business.

What’s going to happen to these names like /whiskey (i REALLY wanted that one, got stuck with /drinkwhiskey instead) that were pinned to user profiles? Well ultimately its going to come down to facebook yanking them, or they go to waste. Will a secondary market arise? Sure, but only for fan pages, not for personal profiles. Those who buy great keywords with hopes of turning these minor personal profiles into commercial landing pages will be sad when they realize they’ve wasted what could be hundreds of dollars on something useless.

So my advice, create a valuable page with content on it, promote it, and then see if you can grab your desired name on June 28. If you want to give yourself a clever personal username, make it something representative of you/your personality, or better yet: protect your personal brand name.

2 Comments

  1. Brian –

    Craig Agranoff (@lapp) blogged about this too, over at http://bit.ly/10EvpD. These were my thoughts:

    The facebook “landrush” for profile usernames was a rush for fool’s gold. As I tweeted on June 13th, the morning after, lol, “Facebook vanity urls? Color me unimpressed. Surprised at all the experts and gurus who are in a frenzy, like babies groping for a teat.”

    Only time and some new application will tell us if we’re wrong. But here are just two reasons why we’re not wrong right now:

    1) the era of the vanity URL has pretty much passed. There’s still some value in a good URL, no denying that, but the real value is in content and “google-juice” – which will win out over a domain name almost every time. Can’t get “craigagranoff.com”? Not a big deal, really. Get something else that’s related to you or a niche, fill it with great content, and people will find you.

    2) the era of the “free service” domain name ended long ago. There’s NO VALUE to it, and too much risk. I’m not big on “should’s”, but NOBODY should rely on a free service like facebook to be their URL. It’s too easy and cheap now to get a URL that you “own” – like, oh, pizzatweetup.com, for example – for less than $US10, and forward that to your facebook profile or page if you so choose, or better yet, create an actual website for pizzatweetup and use your facebook profile or page to link to that.

    From the hypothetical pizzatweetup website, or any website for that matter, a text link or icon to “Friend Me on Facebook” or “Become A Fan on Facebook” renders the actual url of that facebook link (/agranoff or /pizzapizza) irrelevant. Worst case, someone goes looking for you on facebook, a simple search will find YOU. I don’t think you’ll lose too many, what…visitors? who type in facebook.com/pizzapizza for some reason and give up from there. And if they weren’t looking for you, but were looking for random pizza information and expecting that the facebook vanity url they type in would lead them to it, well…you probably didn’t want that visitor, anyway.

    The bottom line for traffic and search is not the URL of a site, but how that site is promoted.

  2. Brian –

    Craig Agranoff (@lapp) blogged about this too, over at http://bit.ly/10EvpD. These were my thoughts:

    The facebook “landrush” for profile usernames was a rush for fool’s gold. As I tweeted on June 13th, the morning after, lol, “Facebook vanity urls? Color me unimpressed. Surprised at all the experts and gurus who are in a frenzy, like babies groping for a teat.”

    Only time and some new application will tell us if we’re wrong. But here are just two reasons why we’re not wrong right now:

    1) the era of the vanity URL has pretty much passed. There’s still some value in a good URL, no denying that, but the real value is in content and “google-juice” – which will win out over a domain name almost every time. Can’t get “craigagranoff.com”? Not a big deal, really. Get something else that’s related to you or a niche, fill it with great content, and people will find you.

    2) the era of the “free service” domain name ended long ago. There’s NO VALUE to it, and too much risk. I’m not big on “should’s”, but NOBODY should rely on a free service like facebook to be their URL. It’s too easy and cheap now to get a URL that you “own” – like, oh, pizzatweetup.com, for example – for less than $US10, and forward that to your facebook profile or page if you so choose, or better yet, create an actual website for pizzatweetup and use your facebook profile or page to link to that.

    From the hypothetical pizzatweetup website, or any website for that matter, a text link or icon to “Friend Me on Facebook” or “Become A Fan on Facebook” renders the actual url of that facebook link (/agranoff or /pizzapizza) irrelevant. Worst case, someone goes looking for you on facebook, a simple search will find YOU. I don’t think you’ll lose too many, what…visitors? who type in facebook.com/pizzapizza for some reason and give up from there. And if they weren’t looking for you, but were looking for random pizza information and expecting that the facebook vanity url they type in would lead them to it, well…you probably didn’t want that visitor, anyway.

    The bottom line for traffic and search is not the URL of a site, but how that site is promoted.

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