As Facebook searches for ways to increase their revenue, some users are being asked if they are willing to pay for vanity URLs. For those unaware of what vanity URLs are, they are the short strings that follow “facebook.com”. For example, the AllFacebook.com public profile has a short URL which is “http://www.facebook.com/allfacebook”. A number of celebrities and high profile individuals have been granted profile URLs for free as a way to encourage them to update their Facebook public profiles more regularly.
Other users have been regularly asking for shorter versions for their public profiles. It appears that Facebook has been listening and is now considering setting up a market for short URLs. Every day I personally receive a number of inquiries from individuals asking how to get a short URL for their public profile. So far Facebook hasn’t let users do anything about it although there have been rumors that they were considering let individuals purchase URLs.
This could theoretically be a huge business in that URLs could go through a bidding process. Want to get the URL http://www.facebook.com/shoes? You better be willing to bid against companies like Zappos, who I’m sure would be willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you’d like your own username, that would obviously be substantially cheaper.
Companies like Twitter have decided to make it a free-for-all when it comes to usernames but that has regularly proven to be ineffective. Many individuals end up squatting on usernames. Others like the CNNbrk account, decide that they will use another person’s brand name to generate buzz and attract users. In the case of the CNNbrk account, CNN.com ended up acquiring it but that is a rare example.
Facebook could theoretically make millions if people were willing to pay for their short URLs. I know that every business would be dying to get their own vanity URL. Would you be willing to pay? How much would you spend?
Thanks to Jason McGowan for giving us the heads up about this!