As of 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on June 13, Facebook is letting page owners create the vanity URLs that many have been clamoring for. That means pages will be able to shed their lengthy addresses in favor of one that becomes facebook.com/yournamehere. Marketers can go to http://www.facebook.com/username to make the switch.
Which Marketers Are Eligible
The Facebook Page must have been live on Facebook with at least 1,000 fans as of May 31. Trying to create a Page now or racking up fans won't help.
Why Marketers Should Care
The most important reason is brand protection. If your company is Acme Widgets, you can claim facebook.com/acme or facebook.com/acmewidgets. The other key reason is for brand promotion. The Facebook username can be promoted through other marketing channels online and offline.
Why It's Not Necessarily Urgent
Facebook is increasingly vigilant about protecting marketers' brands. On its FAQ, Facebook offers a number of measures for trademark owners to report infringement. Marketers should check on Monday that their brand terms are not being used as usernames by others. Marketers that have a page with at least 1,000 fans should select usernames as quickly as possible, but other marketers will still have resources available.
Plan of Action
If you have a page with 1,000 fans as of the end of May:
- Read the Facebook FAQ. There are important rules regulating usernames; for instance, generic terms such as "pizza" aren't allowed.
- Determine the username -- one that adheres to Facebook's terms and best represents the brand. If you run traditional media, think about what would look good on a billboard or TV spot, or sound good on the radio.
- Decide which of your page administrators is reliable, really understands Facebook and will be available at 12:01 a.m. ET June 13 or very soon after.
- Make the change. And be very careful -- a typo could be irreversible.
- Check Monday and periodically thereafter to see if any of your trademarks were registered by others.
If you don't have a page, or it didn't hit 1,000 fans by the deadline:
- Consider whether it makes sense to have a page, or if you do have one, consider ways to grow the fans. Some strategies are discussed in 360i's Social Marketing Playbook. Facebook will undoubtedly create new windows for claiming vanity URLs, so it's not too late.
- Scan Facebook for any trademark infringement violations in the meantime.
Whichever camp you're in, get ready to see brands' Facebook Pages promoted more often, now that marketers will have a URL they can flaunt -- and one Facebook users can remember.
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David Berkowitz is director of emerging media for 360i. He blogs regularly at Inside the Marketer's Studio and 360i's Digital Connections. He also contributed to the just-released Social Marketing Playbook.