This week’s Social Media Matters column (originally published January 21, 2011)

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, January 21, 2011
Metro section

Vanity URLs for Facebook profiles

Have you noticed that celebrities and companies have customized (or “vanity”) Facebook URLs? No, they didn’t get them because of who they are or how much money they paid. In fact, these URLs are free and available to anyone either for their own profile or other pages they manage.

For instance, you’ve likely noticed in advertisements that companies are using vanity Facebook URLs more and more, sometimes even instead of sending people to their corporate website. Toyota is one company that comes to mind.

I noticed in some recent television ads that they send viewers to www.facebook.com/toyota instead of www.toyota.com

This is remarkable, considering that corporations have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for websites, yet Facebook is basically free.

To set the username for your profile or for a page that you manage (i.e. for which you are the administrator), go to www.facebook.com/username (you must be logged on to Facebook) and follow the instructions. One important thing to remember is that you can’t choose a vanity URL for a page you manage with less than 25 “likes.” Once your page hits 25 likes, it’s best to secure your username as soon as possible.

With that said, it’s also crucial that you understand one thing: you are allowed to change your personal profile’s customized URL only once. For a page (formerly called a “fan page”), however, once you set the customized URL, it is set forever. If you make a typo, that’s tough. So, it’s best to be very careful when doing this.

For pages that you manage that have more than 25 likes, consider setting a username for it. If the page is for your company and you’re maintaining it regularly, consider putting the URL on your business cards. And for sure, make sure you link to your corporate Facebook site from your regular website.

Advertisers flocking to Facebook: Facebook became an advertising powerhouse in 2010, seeing its advertising revenue increase dramatically over 2009. According to an AdvertisingAge report, Facebook now accounts for five per cent of all online advertising revenue.

This isn’t surprising, considering the fact that Facebook is now the world’s number one website and has 500 million users. Furthermore, ad buyers can highly customize to whom their ads are targeted using Facebook’s reasonably simple interface.

In 2010, Facebook raised $1.86 billion in advertising revenue compared to $740 million in 2009. Most revenue is earned within the United States.

Furthermore, it appears that small businesses have become heavy users of Facebook advertising because of the website’s self-serve do-it-yourself options. Media agencies, meanwhile, are finding themselves left in the dust as advertisers set up their buys directly on Facebook. This is sure to further erode advertising agencies’ income in 2011.

Value of Twitter is in immediate news

If you’re wondering if Twitter is for you, it may be of particular interest if you’re a devoted newshound who places value on being the first to report happenings to your followers.

An example of that was earlier this week when “Live with Regis and Kelly” co-host Regis Philbin announced his retirement live on air. If you weren’t watching the show live, the first place the news was reported was on Twitter by viewers and entertainment news Twitter feeds which quickly started spreading the word. Traditional news outlets had to play catch-up afterwards.

Twitter is immediate and watched closely by news organizations for breaking news. If you’re a newshound, it may be for you.

Social media bandwagon turns out to be wrong

Social media went crazy on Tuesday with reports that yet another gay teenager had killed himself due to bullying. With bullying and gay teen suicides being at the forefront of a lot of social media efforts lately – including the popular “It Gets Better” video campaign on YouTube – social media users jumped on the bandwagon immediately to condemn the suicide and the poor kid’s bullies.

Even a memorial Facebook page assumed that 18-year-old Lance Lundsten, who attended Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Minn., had committed suicide due to bullying. While eye-witness reports of his bullying can only be believed, the conclusion being spread through the online world that he committed suicide ended up being wrong.

In reality, preliminary results of an autopsy showed he died of coronary edema (or an accumulation of fluid) caused by an enlarged heart. Suicide did not appear to be the cause of death. This doesn’t make it any better, but so many people jumped on the suicide bandwagon that I doubt that the fact he died of a medical condition will ever be considered the cause of death.

Tips for spelling

If you want an easy way to spell a particular word, just type it in the Google search bar and you’ll see the correct spelling appear. For example, if you can’t remember if the word “recipient” is spelled with an “ent” or “ant” at the end, type “recipiant” in Google’s search bar and you’ll see that “recipient” is the correct spelling.

Finding definitions for words

If you’re looking for the definition of a word, “recipient” (again, for an example), simply type “define:recipient” (no spaces) in Google. You’ll see a variety of results pop up from online dictionaries. Very useful!

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