April 22, 2009

Facebook Getting Ready to Charge for Vanity Nicknames?

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Facebook/FriendFeed)

My friend, Jason McGowan, sent me a screenshot that, if it is what it appears to be, suggests Facebook may be getting ready to add a new strategy to its business plan. It appears that select users are seeing polls in Facebook, asking if they would pay to be able to have their own vanity nickname on the network.

The vanity id is currently in beta for a select group of users such as TechCrunch, Loic Lemuer, AllFacebook, and others, and allows you to have http://facebook.com/yournick point to your Facebook Page. In addition, from their mobile phones, users can send "fan nickname" to Facebook and become
fans of your Page from wherever they are. This would be useful, for instance, in a Baseball or Football stadium during a game to enter people into a contest or become fans of the team. It would appear with these polls that Facebook also intends to allow this to point to individual user profiles as well.

Currently services like my own SocialToo and others provide short, easy-to-remember URLs that redirect to your Facebook profile. Having such a vanity URL would enable users to have an even easier to rememb
er URL, based on the Facebook.com domain that you could pass out to your friends. I personally would pay for this - it's worth both the brand recognition, and SEO it would give any brand.

The vanity URLs also come with even more pressure from Google, who just recently launched their own short URL and user profile system. Google's user profiles are 100% free, and rely on your Google account username by default. (See mine here)

Having asked Facebook for entrance into the vanity URL program for both myself and SocialToo and received no response (hint, hint), I would assume Facebook is just waiting for the right time to launch this to all. I'm excited to see this program come forth and hope Facebook can soon allow many more into the program.

You can add yourself as a Fan to my Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jesse-Stay/12327140265

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.

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