Giddy-up cowboys and girls.
As of Saturday morning, you can get a Facebook URL with an intelligible username instead of a bizarre sequence of numbers and letters. For example, my profile is now facebook.com/sgetgood.
Organizations and brands with more than 1000 fans of their fan page BEFORE May 31, 2009 could also protect their brand name with a custom URL last Saturday, but everyone else – fan pages created after May 31 or with less than 1000 fans – has to wait until June 28th, although there are mechanisms for protecting your trademarks.
The Facebook URL Grab
This simple Facebook change has resulted in a mad rush to recruit fans and create fan pages, even though at this point, there’s no way to reserve the name for a fan page. Everyone has to wait until June 28th.
Now I’ve already gone on record that I think nearly every business in America should have a Facebook page, because, point blank, your customers are there. If you’ve already been thinking about setting up a Facebook presence, and the June 28th deadline moves you ahead faster, there’s no reason not to go for it, full speed ahead, and try to get the Facebook URL you really want.
But if you haven’t:
- Identified an initial customer/fan base that is on Facebook or can be invited easily (from a listserv, email list, Twitter, website etc.);
- Developed a plan for updating your Facebook page on a regular basis;
- Developed a plan for integrating Facebook into your other promotional efforts, on and OFF line,
Take a deep breath, and let’s start at the beginning.
Why do you want a Facebook page? Are your customers on Facebook? Do you have a plan and the resources for engaging with your customers on Facebook once they become your fans? Do you have a blog or other online content, such as video, that you can link to Facebook to keep it fresh? If not, how will you engage the customer? No one likes to be invited only to have no one else — not even the host — show up at the party. Are you willing to develop promotions for your online fans?
Take the time to answer these important questions about your Facebook fan page before you start, and worry about the unique URL afterward. If your brand is a registered trademark, you have solid ground for booting any cybersquatters. If it’s not, ask yourself — what does more damage to my business? Customers seeing a lame inactive Facebook page for my company or waiting until I’ve got my stuff together even if that means my URL isn’t the “perfect” one?
I think it’s the lame inactive page that does more harm. Your Facebook page doesn’t stand alone; you promote it on your website, in your email signature, in company collateral. Take the time to create something your customers – your fans – will want to engage with. The time you need to do it right. If it is not your first choice name? So what. Your website URL probably isn’t either. If lack of URL choice — that you didn’t get your first choice — is your excuse for not succeeding? You deserve to fail.
Just don’t take too much time…. or your competitor will get there first. Your company or brand DOES need a Facebook page. Just don’t rush to do it before you are ready to commit to continue doing it.
What about blogs?
Should bloggers create a fan page? The answer is…maybe. Facebook created the fan page as a home for companies, organizations and groups. Institutional identities versus individual identities. It may make sense for an individual blogger to have a fan page in addition to a profile page [a fan page administrator must have an individual profile] under a few circumstances. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother. It’s just one more thing to update.
Here’s when a fan page may make sense for a blogger:
- If the blog is a commercial business entity. Example: Cool Mom Picks, Alphamom
- If the blog is a multi-author blog. Example: Snapshot Chronicles Roadtrip, my new travel blog.
- If the blogger wants to have a clear delineation between friends (profile) and fans (page). Example: celebrities, high profile bloggers, professional service providers.
Otherwise? My advice is to think twice before adding another thing to your social media plate. There are already ways to promote your blog through Facebook – Networked Blogs, linking your feed to Facebook, setting up a group. Only do the Facebook page if you are willing to make at least a small commitment to feeding the beast.