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If you haven’t already, make sure to go over to Facebook and make an account. Once you have an account, go to facebook.com/username to pick out a “vanity URL” for your Facebook profile.

A Vanity URL is a website application’s unique web address for your profile. Until now, Facebook’s URLs were a combination of odd symbols, numbers and letters that had nothing to do with your name. Now you can have a URL that is similar to your name or preferred username (if you get there in time OR if you have a very unique name).  My vanity Facebook URL is facebook.com/christine.cavalier .

Chris Brogan, a social media guy who is one of the area’s more prominent leaders, didn’t choose the URL facebook.com/chrisbrogan. In fact, he didn’t choose anything for several precious hours after the vanity url registration opened up, in which time someone else snapped up the name.  He was at odds with the effects of URLs, naming and applications have on his identity. As he says on his blog:

“It’s never about the sites and services. Never forget that. YOU add value to them, not the other way around. “

This is true, but I tend to think a name is the quickest way to find a person anywhere; Having the vanity URL as your name would be most prudent, especially since Facebook’s search engine is notorious for bringing up all sorts of flotsam when you are looking for friends. I oftentimes type a vanity URL in my browser’s address field, e.g. twitter.com/johnsmith, in the off chance I may just find the John Smith I want on Twitter.com with little effort. I want Facebook to work for me this way, too. I toyed with registering facebook.com/purplecar, but instead stuck with my name. I run the risk of someone else registering that vanity URL, because Facebook allows you only one. This was something I could live with, because eventually I will probably phase out “purplecar” altogether. I own my domain name, so perhaps I’ll move to that URL and make “purplecar” a quaint username I offer in chatrooms.

I digress.

Will life end because Chris Brogan’s vanity URL is facebook.com/dotchrisbrogan? No. Will your life end if you don’t rush over to facebook right now and sign up? No. But you will be online somewhere soon, and you will have to choose your tattoo like the rest of us. What will yours be?


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  • PurpleCar 14 June 2009, 8:17 am

    UPDATE: My friend Bill Cammack talked about this over on his awesome blog. As is usually the case, we tend to clarify our points in comments better than we do if we just post on our own. Go over and read his post (it’s short). Here’s my comment over there. It goes into a bit more of my thought process on why I chose my real name instead of my username on Facebook:

    “Hey man, I posted on this too. I was wondering about this myself. Facebook.com/christine.cavalier is my vanity URL but I almost took /purplecar. My reasoning was this: every other web app I take the “username” purplecar and “real name” christine cavalier. Why should facebook be different? But then I thought about the search behaviors of people on Facebook.

    People search Facebook in a unique manner, compared to other sites. They search for people, mostly, by just name, forgoing drilling down into networks or groups until after their initial search has turned up fruitless (yet abundant) search results. (We all are acutely aware of the search problems on Facebook).

    Also, I considered the population. On sites like Jaiku, we are all social media industry people. These techie types know how to search on username AND then real name. More and more “normal” people are coming on Facebook, especially our schoolmates. How will they search for me? By my name.

    It’s possible that once “normal” people become familiar with the vanity URL, they won’t search Facebook for a friend. Instead they will first try their luck on typing in facebook.com/christinecavalier (the dot is irrelevant, both christinecavalier and christine.cavalier will work).

    So, there’s my long explanation on how I came to break my standard username-first policy for social media sites. I treated Facebook as the unique exception (and crappy search engine) that it is.


    What did you guys choose, and why? Let me know here. Thanks!

  • Bill Cammack 14 June 2009, 8:56 am

    Hey Chris. 🙂 Thanks for the shout-out 🙂

    I was in a Tinychat for over an hour with my friends Tyme, Jennifer & Brent hashing out which name I wanted and why. They can tell you they thought it was funny at the time, but I was going to be sure of what I wanted BEFORE everyone had the ability to take names.

    There were really two bad decisions. Bad Decision #1 is to have facebook all up in my billcammack google results by choosing my “government name”, which is also my brand name and the name of my website as my FB username. Bad Decision #2 is choosing a username that doesn’t “dilute my results” and subsequently allowing some OTHER Bill Cammack to have my name… FORGET THAT! 😀

    The fact of the matter is that we don’t have crystal balls, so there’s no telling whether Facebook will become dominant as far as people searching for people on google or on the internet in general. If it goes that way, I’m in position, as usual. If it doesn’t go that way, I still use FB to point to blog posts on billcammack.com, so I really dont’ think it’ll be an issue.

    What you DON’T WANT is other people that happen to have the same name as you do getting props for YOUR media because they read your name somewhere, searched it, landed on someone else and followed them or added them as a friend because you weren’t diligent in “defending” your brand name.

  • Oliver 11 January 2010, 10:32 pm

    Thank you for the post, it was very helpful =)

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