In a passionate speech at the Web 2.0 summit, 4chan founder Christopher “moot” Poole says that Google and Facebook “do identity wrong,” and that people should not be tied to just one identity on the web. He doesn’t really propose solutions, but he brings a lot of valuable food for thought to the table.
I am currently an administrator for a number of Facebook fan pages and have been getting increasingly frustrated with the fact that I can’t reply on the page wall as myself.
Anytime a fan leaves a comment, or posts something and an administrator wishes to leave a comment, there is no way to distinguish one admin from another because all posts appear as being from the page.
What makes this situation even more annoying is that people have been complaining about it for a long time.
It’s not as if it would be particularly difficult for Facebook to make this possible, to give authors the choice of posting as themselves or the admin, or even have them “log in” to the pages they administer in order to work as the admin.
The only other workaround I can think of is to create multiple Facebook accounts, but that defeats the purpose of you having pages (and may even be against Facebooks TOS – will have to look that up).
This is very simple functionality that would actually start to make Facebook pages useful, rather than being glorified bull horns for spewing content at loyal fans.
Yet, as I said above, people have been asking for this fix since March of 2009 and Facebook don’t appear to be listening or care, so I guess I won’t hold my breath on this one.
When it comes to branding yourself, when it comes to being found online, when it comes to making your mark on the internet the only URL that really matters is your own URL.
By that I mean the one that is your domain, your website or blog, your corner of the web.
Not your name on somebody else’s piece of the web, but your own place. Yours!
A sense of identity is important to all of us and the minds behind companies like Facebook know this.
They offer personalized URLs as a means to provide us with this sense of identity, with this sense of ownership, but they neglect to tell you that the sense of identity will be fleeting and that the sense of ownership is, at best, an illusion.
Companies come and go! How many social networks have risen and fallen in the past few years?
The crowd is fickle and when they move on to the next big thing, as they inevitably do, the networks die off, taking with them your content, your identity and everything you thought you owned.
As Anil Dash said in his post a few days ago, “Exclusive, the future of Facebook Usernames”:
A first wave of "It’s alive! Go get your name!" posts go up on various technology blogs, noting that the service is running a little bit slow. None of these posts mention that you can also register a real domain name that you can own, instead of just having another URL on Facebook.
If you really want to carve out your place on the web you have to secure your own domain and preferably your real name (not some made up name that you may not want, or may not fit 5 or 10 years down the road).
With your own domain you can have your own space on the web, where you are in control and you own everything. Nobody can take it away, nobody can change the rules, it’s your identity and your place.
Once you have that, run off and get your Facebook vanity URL (and again, choose one that identifies you and will still be valid in 5 years time – remember you are your brand) and use it to drive traffic to your domain and while you’re at it, aggregate your content from social networks into your domain so that you have it forever and always.
Make your mark. Claim your own territory on the web! Make it so that when your name is typed in on a search engine, it’s not some social network that comes up first, but you.
Your name, your domain, your identity. You!
Once you’ve secured “you” then it’s time to make friends!
I’ve been online for a long time. Some of you have teenage kids that weren’t even a sperm in their fathers testes when I started surfing the tubes and one thing, that admittedly took me a long time to learn, but which will always stay with me, is that YOU are your brand and your biggest asset on line is your followers.
When you sign up to be part of, oh, lets say a blogging group called “BiggieBloggers” what is the value to you in adopting that name as part of your twitter brand? Why on earth would you call yourself “Paul_BiggieBloggers” or “NBrain_BiggieBloggers”?
The answer is little to none. You’re only making yourself invisible in the folds of someone else’s robes.
When you do something like that you are handing over all of the value you create as you build your network around their brand.
Stick with your own identity, build your brand around you. Allow yourself to become the asset that is desired by whomever is courting you to become part of your group.
Your followers are a valuable asset, and if you brand yourself as part of any one particular organization or group you won’t be able to easily take your followers with you when you move on.
It may seem like it’s incredibly easy to change your username in twitter to something more suited to you when you’re finished with a certain organization, and to be honest it is, but when you do that, you loose so much recognition. You loose so many people who associate you with your username, your brand.
I think it’s best, from the very start to try to stick to one username, at most 2, (in my case “pauloflaherty” and “oflaherty”) and be pervasive with them across the web in order to build your own brand, value and maintain your own identity.
Companies, networks, organizations and fads will come and go, but your name will always be your brand.