The online world has been all atwitter (pun intended) over Facebook’s recent announcement that this Saturday, June 13 at 12:01 a.m. EST they’ll be allowing users to choose vanity URLs and usernames for profile and fan pages, but what does this mean for marketers, brand managers and us PR folks?
While there’s going to be a hefty amount of traffic to Facebook before the sun rises on Saturday, it’s definitely not going to be a replay of the domain name grabs we saw in the late 1990s. Facebook is putting systems in place to combat any would-be “squatters” from snatching up a trademarked brand’s URL (although there’s lots of chatter about how slow they were on the uptake for this one, considering Twitter and MySpace have been doing this for a long time already). So what do you or your e-communications team need to do? Here’s the break down.
Previously, Facebook URLs have been convoluted (ex. www.facebook.com/.php?id=987654321), whereas now usernames will appear in the URL (ex. www.facebook.com/vitaminwater). The vanity URLs are not only easier to share, but are also more memorable and offer ways for marketers to further engage their audiences by pushing them to their fan pages that can contain more interactive features and help foster an ongoing relationship over a longer period of time versus pushing consumers to the company’s Web page.
What do I need to do?
If your brand has a fan page that had at least 1,000 fans prior to May 31, review Facebook’s initial announcement and the FAQ section of the Web site to determine the specifics of what usernames are applicable, and work with your Facebook administrator to choose a username and register the URL early on June 13 (I’m sure extra caffeine would be much appreciated). But be careful when registering the URL in the wee hours of the morning. A misspelling could be costly, as revisions or transfers aren’t allowed once the username/URL is registered.
Whether or not you have a Facebook page that fits the above requirements, anyone with a trademarked brand should register a trademark with Facebook to help prevent any infringement on their trademark.
Additionally, all trademark holders should be monitoring for improper use of their trademark come Monday, June 15. Facebook has also created a mechanism to report any usernames that infringe upon a company’s trademark.
For more information about vanity URLs for companies that have new Facebook pages, or didn’t meet the 1,000 fan requirement, check out this recent article from Mashable’s Jennifer Van Grove.
So, regardless of whether you’ll be feverishly awaiting 12:01 a.m. this Saturday morning, or if you’ll be watching the mad dash from a distance, be prepared to see more marketers, advertisers and PR folks using Facebook URLs in their outreach.