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3 Reasons Vanity URLs Really Matter

July 14, 2011

Is a “vanity URL” really vain? No!! And if you haven’t claimed yours already, someone else likely has—or will. (Not exactly sure what I mean by “vanity URL?” Think “logical name” for a person or organization online.)

So, for example, by owning the domain mcswain-starrett.com, and having consistent URLs on Facebook (facebook.com/mcswainstarrett), Twitter (twitter.com/mcswainstarrett), LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/mcswainstarrett), and Slideshare (slideshare.net/mcswainstarrett), I’ve made it easy and convenient for people who are looking for me to find me. I also protect my own personal “brand name” by making sure no one else can purport to be me!

It’s no different for organizations.

Why Vanity URLs Matter

Ever see a company promote “Find Us on Facebook!” only to notice their URL is something like facebook.com/pages/Company-X/82704784072?

Um, doesn’t exactly promote their credibility, does it? Even if you didn’t know about vanity URLs before reading this post, I bet you still had a sense that the link should just be facebook.com/CompanyX, right? It just seems a little more credible, huh?

So, don’t have yours reserved yet? Don’t wait! Real-world reasons why you should, ASAP:

  1. The best choices for your username on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube may already be taken! With every passing day, the chances increase that you’ll be shooting for second or third choice. (This happened to an organization I work closely with just this week. While they spent days arguing over the second-best username to request on Facebook—their first choice was already gone—that one got taken too!)
  2. There may already be a confusing array of similarly-named or duplicate entries on such websites, each purporting to represent your organization. (I am dealing with this at my work right now—we are going through a name change—and trust me, similarly named accounts just make for confusion!)
  3. Someone may have even taken your exact username—knowingly or not—and may be interacting with the world as if they are you! (I’ve seen this happen before, more than once. Organizations end up trying to convince the squatter to release their rightful username back to them, or battling the bureaucracy of a social media behemoth like Facebook to assert they are the legitimate owners.)

Don’t let this happen to you, or your organization. Protect yourself from someone hijacking your good name—your brand—and snag those vanity URLs! (See how to request your username on Facebook.)

How to Request Your Username on Facebook

The way to set up vanity URLs on each website is different, and I can’t document here how to do it everywhere, but you can easily search the “help” of most websites and figure it out. Since practically everyone is on Facebook, though, and they make it easy:

  1. While you are already logged into Facebook, simply go to facebook.com/username to reserve your vanity URL(s).
  2. For your personal account, you can use a username that is suggested for you, or check the availability of another one. You probably want this to be your real name, perhaps with a middle initial or nickname if you have a very common name.
  3. If you happen to be an administrator for a Facebook public profile page for your business, organization, etc.—and it has more than 25 fans who have “Liked” it, according to Facebook rules—you can also check availability for and request a vanity URL for your organization(s), too.

For both, just remember to choose very, very carefully. I’ve learned this the hard way: once you select a username, Facebook doesn’t allow you to change it again, ever!!

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