Facebook Vanity URLs

Since its inception, Facebook has linked to user profiles through randomly assigned numbers in the URL (e.g., “http://facebook.com…id=592952074/”). While effective, the method has not allowed users to easily share links to their profiles with others. When copying and pasting a link was the main option, users often found themselves sifting through Facebook search results in order to find the right profile.

Finally, this Saturday, June 13th, at 12:01 A.M., this will all change. Facebook users will have the opportunity to choose usernames in order to create unique vanity URLs, making profile sharing easier than ever.

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One minute after midnight, the site will invite its 200 million users to either choose from a list of suggestions (all of which are a combination of a first and last name), or to create an original name. Social media addicts and those with common names will need to be diligent as usernames will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once facebook.com/jsmith has been claimed, all other J. Smiths hoping for that URL will be out of luck.

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Users will also need to think carefully and strategically about their vanity URL choice, because once applied, they will not be able to alter their selections. In other words, think twice before rushing to grab “xXRockerJamesXx” first.

Facebook not only blogs about the new vanity URLs, but also provides users with a link to a live countdown.

It’s Not (Just) Your Kid’s Facebook Anymore!

I recently reconnected on Facebook with the majority of my 6th Grade classmates from P.S. 114 in Belle Harbor, NYC. I graduated from Mr. Domingo’s class in 1986 and, for the most part, have not spoken to these people since then. Facebook has illuminated old faces and rekindled a whole mess of great memories that had been filed away in the far recesses of my mind. We’ve now posted funny stories on each other’s walls, shared old photos, and simply caught up on where life has taken us since we last spoke. There is no way this would ever have happened if it wasn’t for Facebook.

What started out as a place for college kids to share drunken party photos has become a real-time reunion for 30, 40 & even 50-somethings. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook over the past year is the 35 to 54 age group. This segment has created profiles six times as fast as the 13 to 34 group and now represents roughly one-fifth of the site’s 120 million users and rising.

Technically I still fall into that…ahem…younger demographic, but while I was an early adopter because of the business I’m in, it wasn’t until this past year that I fully realized the power that Facebook has for enabling the reconnection of old friends.

As more and more of my old acquaintances join, the more people I receive “friend requests” from and vice versa. Over this past year I have reconnected with people from every period of my life – grade-school & high school classmates from New York, guys I played football with in college in New Hampshire, and old rugby buddies living around the world in England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. It’s been a phenomenal experience. In some cases I’ve discovered that old friends are in the same business that I’m in – including publicists & reporters. I even recently placed a story in the Nashua Telegraph for a client, which was written by an old college buddy I reconnected with through Facebook

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1993 Plymouth State College Football Team

The best part of reconnecting via Facebook is the non-committal aspect of it all. You can decide the level of reconnection that you want and you can do it when it’s convenient. The worst part of high school & college reunions is the fact that you wind up telling your “life after school” story over and over again and feel compelled to talk to everyone in the room, when maybe you really just want to hang out with your close friends or an old flame. On Facebook, you can catch up with people on different levels – it can be simply accepting a “Friend Request” or posting a note on a friend’s “Wall”. If it’s someone you were close with, you can send them a personal message and maybe plan a time to grab a beer when you’re both in the same town (Facebook will never replace a hug an a handshake).

While Facebook will always be a place for teenagers to share party pics and plan road trips, the real power of the application is people staying connected with everyone they have met along the way. Never again will Jack opine, “I wonder what Jill is up to these days?” He will already have pictures of Jill’s kids climbing up the same hill they climbed when they were kids.