The Real Implication of Facebook Vanity URLs

Jun 16, 2009 · 7 comments

in social media

In earlier posts, I discussed my use of privacy settings on Facebook, and on my blog sidebar it clearly states “I tend to restrict my Facebook friends to people I’ve met in person. ” In general, my Facebook account is much more closely aligned with my athletic and social pursuits than my technical and social media activities. Yet when Facebook announced that individuals and organizations could register usernames, I didn’t even consider not registering www.facebook.com/afhill.

So I registered the name… now what??

facebookIn his blog post from May 31, Facebook Vanity URLs = Big SEO Boost for Facebook, Ryan Spoon discusses the SEO benefits to Facebook for integrating the power of personal branding into their URLs. It only makes sense that a benefit to one party will necessitate a cost to another – if my personal brand starts to be considered in conjunction with the Facebook domain, will my other web properties suffer?

More concretely: lets say you blog about meeting me. What property are you going to link to? The more touchpoints I give you, the weaker each becomes. I’d argue that we will each gravitate towards the service we are most comfortable with, which may not be the strongest brand extension we wish to promote.

Certainly, associating a known personal brand with a Facebook profile can make it easier to find someone on Facebook, but I didn’t even really stop to consider if that was really what I wanted. Just because someone knows my online moniker doesn’t mean I necessarily am comfortable considering them a friend on this particular social network. But by registering my username, did I not effectively hang out a sign promoting my profile?

One of my most notable traits when doing digital strategy is asking about objectives. Yet I basically ignored that question when I rushed to register my username. Does that mean it was a poor strategic move? Not necessarily, just not a well thought-out one. It will be interesting to see how these URLs impact how we use Facebook, and how other web properties are affected.

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