Earlier this week, Facebook announced they will allow users to choose unique user names that can be used in vanity urls. For example, a user named Chaz Bono could choose the user name chaz.bono, and his new Facebook url would be facebook.com/chaz.bono.
Facebook users can lay claim to their ideal user name starting at 12:01 AM this Saturday, which is tonight! There is likely to be a bit of a rush around midnight, as many of the John Smiths on Facebook clamor for user names that resemble the one their parents gave them. Facebook is not requiring that users choose a handle that matches their actual name, so those with a sense of humor, political bent or perhaps just had too much to drink can choose to be recognized in any way they see fit (iheartthejonasbrothers, anyone?). The sticking point here is that Facebook won’t let you change your user name later, so it’s probably advisable to choose one that you won’t mind having for quite some time.
So how does this affect nonprofits? First, nonprofits with fan pages that don’t have friendly urls will want to snatch one up so it can be displayed all over home pages, emails, and marketing materials.
In addition, organizations will want to take steps to ensure that their brands haven’t been hijacked by outside individuals come tomorrow morning. Facebook has taken some steps to prevent squatting and misuse, such as prohibiting new account holders from reserving user names, but they won’t be able to prevent every abuse. To help, Facebook has created a form that organizations and companies can use to prevent registration of trademark names.
For more information about vanity urls and fan pages, check out Jim Tobin’s post.
If you’re looking for something to do tonight when you’re waiting to snag your user name, you might want to check out this video that’s been circulating around the Beaconfire offices today – all about our “hood”: