So, last night, Facebook debuted Facebook Usernames for companies, individuals and groups. This has been a long time coming and will finally enable you to grab an easy-to-remember, easy-to-share URL for your profile or page. All you need to do is hit facebook.com/usernames in your browser. You'll be prompted to login and, upon doing so, if qualified, you'll be given some initial options for Facebook usernames. If the initial selections aren't what you want, just click on "More" to reveal a field where you can enter your own username and check its availability. If it's available, that's it, just accept it to save your changes.
There were, most likely, hundreds of thousands of eager geeks (I wasn't one of them this time, I swear) poised over their keyboards at 11:59 pm last night so after just 11 hours after the feature debuted, I had already missed out on the username I actually wanted, jasonh, but I went with the old standby: first initial of first name and then the last name... and voila! http://facebook.com/jheydasch is mine. (And, according to Facebook, I can never change it. So, be cautious when choosing your username.)
Now, again, if you're wanting to create a username for your company's Facebook page, the process is just as easy. However, I did mention in that first paragraph that qualifications may need to be met. Those qualifications are for Pages only (not your personal profile) and, according to the Facebook Usernames FAQs, are as follows:
"Your Facebook Page must meet two requirements: it must be live on Facebook prior to the May 31, 2009 cut-off date and have a minimum of 1,000 fans as of May 31, 2009."
Now, that first part may not be a problem for some of my favorite local businesses but that second stipulation certainly might be. Achieving 1,000 fans isn't necessarily an easy thing to achieve. Take Knoxville's own Crown & Goose, "Knoxville's first authentic London gastropub located in the Old City." They've got a whopping total of 52 friends/fans... just one less than my own personal Facebook account. So, that's it then... no official Facebook username for the Crown & Goose. One one hand, I hope Facebook will remove the restrictions. On the other hand, the restrictions are put-in-place to prevent so-called "squatters" who will sign up for a username strictly for the purpose of being able to offer up the username to whomever is willing to bid the highest. Sad, but true.
So, if you haven't quite hit that 1,000 fan requirement, you can still grab a unique & shareable URL to slap on those business cards, newsletters, etc. The answer to your dilemma? Profile.to.
How does profile.to work? Just login to the Facebook account to which your Page is linked and then type "http://profile.to" in your browser's address bar. You'll be taken to the profile.to Facebook application. Just follow the prompts and you can create your own customized URL for your profile, page(s), and/or group(s)... one like http://profile.to/yourname.
So, how about you? Were you able to grab the username you wanted? Feel free to brag and share it in the comments below.