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.

{ 7 comments }

1 Jeff Stolarcyk Jun 16, 2009 at 9:00 am

I’ve already gotten more than a few friend requests from people I don’t know/don’t know very well since getting my vanity URL. Like you, I’m much more selective about who I connect with on FB than other places online (in a vast majority of cases, I have to have physically met you and not hate you), and had some reservations about taking the plunge into being more easily accessible.

I think that, in my case, the reason I ended up doing it is that I have a last name that is consistently misspelled, mispronounced, misremembered and otherwise butchered (which is the origin of my Twitter name, in a roundabout way). If I meet someone in person and they ask if I’m on Facebook, it’s much easier for me to tell them Facebook.com/TheOtherJeff. The downside is that other people can find me more easily, yeah, but I don’t have to approve their friend requests.

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2 Andrea Hill Jun 16, 2009 at 10:22 am

‘the other jeff’ – that’s great! I used to use “that girl” as a username on a social site. I’d meet people in person and they’d ask “aren’t you that girl on {sitename}”?

Ah, those were the days, before I embraced consistent branding….

Andrea Hill’s last blog post..The Real Implication of Facebook Vanity URLs

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3 Kelly Jun 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm

I did managed to snag kgiff on Facebook since that’s me in most other social networking sites. For me, it was also more of a personal brand thing than wanting to be more findable on Facebook.

I find it interesting that you and Jeff are as selective as you are about your friends on Facebook. I’m not nearly as selective (although my social circles on FB do tend to be more towards my other interests than my technical ones). But I do make extensive use of privacy settings on Facebook. I will friend just about anyone who friends me if I can at least place them, but I have limited profile groups I put people in. I’m much more selective on who I link to on LinkedIn.

4 Andrea Hill Jun 16, 2009 at 8:10 pm

@Kelly I had an interesting dialogue in my comments with Ari Herzog about my segregating contacts. I guess for me, I think that I have enough “tech/geek speak” in my other outlets, that my facebook discussions are virtually void of tech references.

Granted, I also maintain separate blogs and separate twitter accounts for my different interests, so I may take the whole ‘separation of content’ to the extreme.

Andrea Hill’s last blog post..The Real Implication of Facebook Vanity URLs

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5 Kelly Jun 17, 2009 at 4:56 am

The “separation of content” is something that has been a constant struggle for me. As my twitter network expanded from my small circle of tech friends to other people that I know in real life or those I met virtually, I started worrying about what I was twittering wasn’t appropriate for all audiences. And I started debating whether I needed separate twitter accounts or whatever. Finally I decided, these people have chosen to follow me, so they can either ignore the tweets they’re not interested in or stop following me. Zeldman had a blog post on his stand on twitter which I tend to agree with.

Now my blog has been in the middle of an identity crisis for a couple of years (which is probably why it’s largely neglected these days).

I’m fascinated with the ways people choose to connect and how they use social networks. It seems like everyone uses them differently which is something I tend to forget when talking about social networks.

6 Jeff Stolarcyk Jun 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

Kelly,

The answer to the ‘why am I so selective?’ question is that when I was teaching when I first got ontp Facebook. I was inundated with friend requests from first-year college students and decided that, rather than take a bunch of pictures down and remove my phone # and other contact info from the site, I would rather have fewer connections and more openness with the people I chose to connect with there. Twitter and LinkedIn (I’ll add basically anybody just because they might be handy some day) and SocialSiteOfTheMinute are for mixing and networking and et cetera, but Facebook is what I use for sharing info with my existing friends, organizing my social calendar and playing Bejeweled.

As for info segmentation, I try to do it as little as possible. The exception is work. I write magazine articles and blog for my company, so I try not to share my thoughts on work-related topics on my own blog; as long as I’m with them, my mindshare on marketing/social media is basically their property, and my own blog is relegated to onanistic journaling and pop culture dross.

Jeff Stolarcyk’s last blog post..Project Mixtape: Remixed

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7 Taj Moore Jun 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

I get the need for consistent branding … and yet there is the challenge of choosing that brand. I didn’t think I had much of a struggle until I discovered there are multiple Taj Moore’s out there … as in “more than two.” Do I hold forth with Taj Moore, add the middle initial like William H. Macy, or go with the shortened tajmo (as the musician Kevin Moore adopted Keb Mo’) that I use for Twitter? In the end, I decided that Facebook isn’t about any moniker-of-the-minute, it’s about me the person. So, I used my name. And, since I’m the eldest (and geekiest) of Taj Moores, I’m be the early adopter who gets to choose first. I only hope that Taj Moore the rapper, nor Taj Moore the basketball player gets any good at SEO.

Taj Moore’s last blog post..Principles At Work In Professional Collaboration: Denver June 2009 Notes

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