In case you were under a rock last night or away from the computer (which is unfortunately the same thing for many people) – what you missed what an online event that is now being called the “Facebook Landgrab.” On Friday evening (or sometimes Saturday depending on where you were) – Facebook invited every user of the site to claim their own “vanity URL.” These custom URLs could be your name, any part of your name or some other term – and would replace the long string of numbers that used to be your profile URL on Facebook.
Today, the day after, the praise for Facebook is almost universal for how they conducted this. Why was it such a successful rollout? Here are a few reasons:
- The process seemed fair and logical. From the beginning, Facebook let every user know about the timetable at the same time. They limited the offering to people who had their accounts for some time, and they took the right measures to prevent cybersquatting by requiring Pages to have more than 1000 fans.
- The site didn’t crash. This was the subject of significant speculation among the “Twitterati” as they wondered whether the crushing load of so many people logging on at the same time to choose a username would crash the site. It began to feel like an impending web crisis of Y2K levels … and just like back in 2000, the hour arrived and passed without incident. When compared to the notoriously unreliable Twitter and even the unfallible Google that went down for a few hours for “some users” back in May – Facebook’s tech team passed the test last night with flying colors.
- Getting a profile is talkable. Satisfying the biggest criteria for a successful word of mouth marketing effort, Facebook realized that anyone getting a new profile name on Facebook was inherently talkable … you just couldn’t help telling everyone else that you know about your brand new shiny username.
- Inspiring people to reappraise Facebook. There were more than a dozen people I saw in my Twitter stream who commented on how getting a new profile name offered a reason for them to return to Facebook and use it again. In the process, they rediscovered new friends, new applications and other parts of the Facebook experience that caused them to return to the site and potentially use it more frequently.
Do you agree that this was a big win for Facebook or do you have a different point of view?
PS – My brand new Facebook URL is http://www.facebook.com/rohitbhargava – connect with me!