Facebook Vanity URLs and SMBs

Most people outside the Internet bubble world are probably unaware that at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning Facebook will allow users to pick vanity URLs:

We’re planning to offer Facebook usernames to make it easier for people to find and connect with you. When your friends, family members or co-workers visit your profile or Pages on Facebook, they will be able to enter your username as part of the URL in their browser. This way people will have an easy-to-remember way to find you. We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook username in the future.

Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the Web. People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names. Your username will have the same privacy setting as your profile name in Search, and you can always edit your search privacy settings here.

This is effectively like a domain registry but Facebook is wisely preventing domain squatting.

This will likely turn out be a big deal for individuals, SEO and potentially SMBs in terms of digital identity and presence. Most SMBs probably haven’t a clue. But, in fact, Facebook.com/smallbizXYZ could be a total substitute or replacement for a website or a complementary presence that boosts an SMB’s capacity to be discovered online.

People who work with small businesses should alert them to this event to enable them to secure their business names (or individual names) for future marketing purposes.

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Update: See Niel Street’s comment below re the TOS and URLs re fan pages and small businesses. It doesn’t preclude using your personal page however.

11 Responses to “Facebook Vanity URLs and SMBs”

  1. Neil Street Says:

    I was very excited about this, on behalf of my clients who have Facebook Pages for businesses. Then I read the fine print, and discovered that:

    “Your Facebook Page must meet two requirements: it must be live on Facebook prior to the May 31, 2009 cut-off date and have a minimum 1,000 fans as of May 31, 2009.”

    1,000 fans is way beyond what most small businesses have. At this point, it’s not of much use. I haven’t looked at the requirements yet concerning user profiles, but in order to separate work from personal, I tend to steer clients to Facebook pages, not profiles.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Ouch. That’s unfortunate

  3. Neil Street Says:

    When you think about it, 1,000 fans precludes millions of small businesses from this feature. Why did Facebook set the bar so high? Clearly they are doing it so that the biggest entities with 1,000 plus fans, can have their pick of the names. Considering Facebook pages were set up with businesses in mind, I’m surprised that Facebook is taking away a level playing field in this regard. Very undemocratic.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree. But you’re right that they’re probably catering to brands and larger advertisers.

  5. How Facebook Will Be Good SEO (For A Few) Says:

    […] May 1, 2009 you might see a boost in your Facebook profile page in the search engines real soon. As Greg Sterling reports on his blog Screenwerk, the social networking leader is planning to turn some of those dynamic […]

  6. nebben Says:

    Hosting a Facebook vanity URL party on Twitter. Use #fburlparty in a tweet & it will show up on this page. http://bit.ly/10xK1W

  7. SMBs CAN Get Vanity URLs « Screenwerk Says:

    […] CAN Get Vanity URLs By Greg Sterling I previously wrote about the Facebook Vanity URL opportunity for SMBs and then was informed that Facebook Pages were required to have 1K fans to be eligible. […]

  8. Mike Says:

    Thanks for the info!

    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

  9. Neil Street Says:

    Actually Mike, that’s not quite correct. If you got a “username” (vanity url) already, it is either for your personal profile page, or for a business page with 1000+ fans. I admit, the naming conventions set by Facebook (profiles versus pages) is confusing.

    Originally, FB announced that Facebook Pages (not personal profile pages) would need 1,000 page fans in order to get a vanity url. This criteria, which is posted in my June 10 comment, above, was later amended with the following language:

    “This limitation is temporary. All Pages created after May 31, 2009 or that had less than 1,000 fans on that day will be eligible to claim usernames on Sunday, June 28, 2009”

    I am not sure when FB made this change, but it was not there on June 10. I suspect it is in part in response to an outcry by SMBs because the bar was set so unreasonably high, at 1,000 fans.

    Anyway — this is great news for SMB’s. The important date to remember is June 28, to log on and claim a vanity url for a Facebook Page. It’s going to be a landrush, IMO. Businesses, or SEO’s working for small businesses should be ready on June 28 with chosen names, and a backup or two.

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