TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington has a post today about Facebook’s limited rollout of vanity URLs; URLs which have a brand name or keyword at the end.
For example, on Twitter my profile is twitter.com/lorenbaker and on Facebook my profile is at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694037044.
There is not only a loss of branding or individuality with the Facebook random number generator URL string, but it sucks for SEO purposes. Furthermore, when looking past personal profiles and into Facebook fan pages (which are now set up similarly to profiles), the end result is worse.
Brands are stuck with profiles which have the name of the brands in the URL strong, but no differentiation from the official brand page and fan pages set up by Facebook users.
Maker’s Mark Official Fan Page : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Makers-Mark/6355923333
Maker’s Mark Fan Page made by random Facebook user : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Makers-Mark-Whiskey/26391345957
There is no differentiation in the URL string what-so-ever to give the real brand page more value in search results or at first glance.
http://www.facebook.com/Makers-Mark/ would work much better. This way the search engines and users could easily idenitfy the correct fan page in the Google, Yahoo and Microsoft indexes AND the fan page would be much easier to use with print or broadcast media.
Arrington writes that some exceptions have been made for U2, Ashton Kutcher & Demi Moore (who are both social media addicts) and Digg’s Kevin Rose. Rose, Kutcher and Moore are all over Twitter, so by giving them vanity URLs on Facebook, perhaps the company is hoping to lure them over.
But wouldn’t opening up Facebook to more vanity URLs result in a rush to secure profiles and be an instant buzz generation tool, especially for people named John Smith or Tom Jones 🙂