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A bit of a gold rush is being predicted as Facebook moves this weekend to distribute vanity URLs, or Facebook Usernames as they're calling them.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, you'll be able to choose a username on a first-come, first-serve basis for your profile and the Facebook Pages that you administer by visiting www.facebook.com/username/. You'll also see a notice on your home page with instructions for obtaining your username at that time.
So it's going to be a mad dash for the digital pay-dirt. And really, it was only a matter of time before things went this way.
Everyone had their own vanity URL with MySpace. I was myspace.com/buzzbishop.
Head on over to Twitter and you can grab your own free vanity URL. It's twitter.com/buzzbishop for me.
But Facebook was different. It's a walled garden of content not easily discovered unless you enter the sandbox. Next time you're at Facebook, check out your profile ID, it's long list of letters and numbers. (http://www.facebook.com/mike#/profile.php?id=63955
If you want someone to find you on Facebook, they have to search for you. They have to know how to spell your name, they have to know which city you're from or which networks you belong to. We've all tried to search for someone before on Facebook and ultimately stumbled into the wrong "John Jones."
The difference with the launch of this username grab is that it is happening all at once. It will be like the entire world trying to log on and grab tickets to the same concert at the same time. Every other site dealt with user name requests as the site grew organically, Facebook will have it's millions and millions of users all clicking a claim at the same time.
So some will be disappointed. If you don't get your Facebook Username this weekend, there is another route: get a .com., or a .ca, or .net, .org, .info, .tv... anything. Get your OWN domain. Never mind letting Zuckerberg be the master of your domain with a vanity Facebook URL, the personal domain is far more valuable at creating brand equity.
Once you've got your own website, a few simple lines of code in a redirecting directory can have you redirecting all sorts of vanity urls to the different social networks.
Want to find me on YouTube? Go to http://www.buzzbishop.com/youtube. On Twitter, I'm http://www.buzzbishop.com/twitter. And on Facebook I'm at http://www.buzzbishop.com/facebook. I didn't have to fight Zuckerberg for it, and if/when Facebook becomes socially obsolete like MySpace or Friendster, I'll have equity in my own personal domain and I can just set up another redirect to the hot new network.he
You could also create a subdomain, something like twitter.buzzbishop.com or facebook.buzzbishop.com.
Once you create your new directories or subdomains, all you need to do is drop a snippet of redirect code where the web page would be to funnel the traffic over to the site you want them to find.
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="1; url=http://www.twitter.com/buzzbishop">
where the twitter address could be any website you want the folder or subdomain to redirect to
That's it, drop the code in a file and save it as index.htm, drop it in the folder or subdomain and you've got your own vanity URL for Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube or, in my case, Future Shop.