Why I Don’t Need a Facebook Vanity URL

29 Comments 06.09.09

Facebook announced the imminent availability of vanity URLs today, meaning I could soon become facebook.com/marshallk or some variation. Chris Messina’s take on this is a must-read. Or I’ll just give you the short version:

I don’t need a Facebook vanity URL because I already own Marshallk.com. That’s a heck of a lot better. I can be found on Facebook by searching for my name, or via the breadcrumbs of conversation that I occaisionally drop there.

More importantly, you can also find me at Twitter, at FriendFeed (if you really want to find me on LinkedIn, Delicious, StumbleUpon or Flickr, it’s all listed at FriendFeed too) or you can call me on the phone. My phone number is listed on the side of Marshallk.com. I spend most of my days at ReadWriteWeb. I also have a physical body that occasionally makes an appearance in public.

The point is, I’m in charge here at Marshallk.com and that’s the way I like it. I know who makes the rules, so there probably won’t be any new ones I don’t like. I cannot say the same about Twitter or Facebook, not at all. Anything could happen over there, and if that’s the only connection that you and I have – it’s quite possible that connection will be broken in time. I’m here at Marshallk.com to stay. That means I’m going to stop telling people about my serf’s address at Twitter when I introduce myself, and I’m not going to promote my special link on Facebook (if I get one) – I’m just going to send people to this page if they want to find me, and then they can find where ever I happen to be hanging out through here.

I know most people don’t have their own domains registered, but for those of us who do, maybe we should reclaim some of the control that comes with ownership of digital identity. Just a thought.


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  • deb

    What does it matter? Really.

  • http://www.connectedworldmedia.com David Jacobs

    Some very good points, but I’ll get one anyway. It’s free, it’s easy, but you core point of never succeed your brand to anyone other than yourself is very good advice.

  • http://rscottjones.com Scott Jones

    Sure, that’s definitely the case, but at the same time, your facebook address is going to be a relatively high Google rank. If you have a name like Scott Jones – like me – that’s probably going to be helpful in letting someone find you, even if I do have rscottjones.com and scottjon.es. I guess the point is, why not?

  • http://jonathanstark.com Jonathan Stark

    Value points, but personally, I follow garyvee’s advice, which is to be everywhere some might be looking for you. It’s free, after all.

  • http://www.soapboxincluded.com Brandon Mendelson

    I absolutely agree, but like David I will probably grab one just to protect the brand names.

  • april silver

    i agree with your points. those who don’t get it or those who don’t think it matters probably don’t get the whole “ownership” concept you mentioned…and they are probably not in the business of branding! what you have been saying, marshall, i have been telling my clients for years…thanks!

  • http://www.soula.com Caite

    I think this has been done purely for the new advertiser/brand pages then marketed to try and make it an attractive feature for the users, although why you would want your “www.facebook.com/brand” to show in the SERP’s is beyond me.

    However saying that I’ll still be sat there on Saturday to make sure I get my brands, if only to make sure no one else gets them. :)

  • http://chrisbaskind.com Chris Baskind

    “Serf’s address at Twitter” is the best chuckle I’ve had so far this morning. ;-)

    I’ve had a Facebook vanity URL for months:

    http://chrisbaskind.com/facebook

    Facebook is in its proper place there. At the end.

  • http://chrispeoples.com Chris

    I take it you didn’t get a Google profile address either, ay Marshall?

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  • http://www.waded.org/ Wade Dorrell

    Another beaut about domains is email service provider portability.

  • http://www.taylormarek.com Taylor Marek

    True, and I see your point. I own my own domain as well, which is more important to me then having it anywhere else on the web.

    Thing is, I want people to find me on facebook as well, so I’ll make it easy for them to find me. I want to be everywhere, partly because I want to join in conversations elsewhere, but also to direct back to my website.

    Just another thought for ya. :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/bhavishya Bhavishya Kanjhan

    Marshall I own my own domain at kanjhan.com as well. Similarly I can also be found at all those websites by googling my name (which is absolutely unique) but I’m still making an effort to get my Facebook Vanity URL.
    Why? Because it’s not just about being found on the internet it’s also about trying, as much as possible, to make your presence available. Besides, if someone’s going to have facebook.com/bhavishya, I’d rather have it be me.

    Your point about control over Digital Identity is right though. The control that we gain over our digital life (identity, email etc) with a custom domain is far greater than that available by services online. Something anyone serious about an online presence should definitely look into.

  • http://www.joniverse.com Joni Mueller

    I own my own domain and have for years. But I like consistency in my life and all my accounts are jonimueller. Makes things nice and easy. Fortunately for me the other jonimueller who is somewhat online but not nearly as much as I am, is asleep at the wheel so I’m likely assured to get that URL. If I can get it, I will. Why? Makes things easier for ME to remember. :)

  • http://larryanderson.org Larry Anderson

    I’ll try to grab my Facebook URL, just because I can, although with a name as common as mine it might be taken already. But if I don’t get it, I won’t be terribly upset, since as you point out, as a domain owner my digital identity is controlled by me and no one else. I never give out site usernames, anyway. Seems kinda silly when I have a perfectly good domain name.

  • Andy

    Just get a .tel domain and aggregate all of your contact information and social media links in one place.

    Facebook could make a killing selling these directly.

  • http://voicesage.blogspot.com PaulSweeney

    If search works, you don’t need a vanity url. The imperative is to be presented to others “in the flow”, and in the “suggestions”… Those that know me, already have me as a friend, those that will find me, will do so through the suggestion, and flow. But, here’s another question: is anyone doing anything interesting with that flow and phonebook function on FB?

  • http://www.internetworkmarketingwealth.com annalaura brown

    I see you point. However, I own annalaurabrown.com but I still took facebook.com/annalaurabrown in part because I don’t want someone else to take it which they could although I doubt they would and it just does make it easier for someone to go directly to your facebook profile.

  • Linda Mae

    Marshall, I get that you think the one site name is enough. However, how will you feel when you discover someone else capitalizing on your name and success?? Did you know that the urls are permanent and cannot be changed later? You’d have zero hope of getting your name later if you failed to act now. Just a thought, buddy.

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  • http://joshuaguffey.com Joshua Guffey

    This is a great reminder Marshall. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/testbeta testbeta

    sure thing you don’t want it!
    but then there are people who don’t blogs/sites and don’t have twitter friendfeed accounts, they would very much like it i think!

    P.S haven’t got any facebook account

  • http://twitter.com/testbeta testbeta

    nothing beats twitter with it’s @ it has became more like a new identity like a new email just short @testbeta and you know what it is but then again there are people who don’t even know what twitter is. but for those who know there is no need of an explanation!

    as for twitter and because i love twitter @username is a good thing a new identity over web like email, blog address but then even when we have domain name blog/site address we still look for a contact-me/contact-us/contact page or a contact email {which if wrote without spam protection can be very bad for your mail management}

    but twitter made things easy!
    @usertwittername and you know what and where!

    that’s what is called an idea!