There can be no doubt that social networking media has changed the way people use the Internet, both professionally and for fun. With the implementation of Facebook usernames, though, how will people go about finding others now?
There are many different reasons why Facebook has beaten back all of their likeminded competitors like MySpace to become the best known and most popular social networking site on the Internet. One of those reasons is the intuitive search that allows you to instantly bring up everyone from your high school graduating class or from your university in seconds. The name search feature works well, too, assuming you aren’t looking for someone named John Brown in Manhattan or something similar. The real question is, will having usernames in URLs actually change the way people search and find individuals?
While we won’t have a definitive answer to this question for a few months, chances are, they won’t, except for instances where people have common names. Think about it, what is easier to tell someone at a business meeting: Your name, so they can find you on Facebook, or a username that is difficult to type and remember, such as “Phoebe.Carmichael?” There is a significantly better chance that someone remembers your name, thanks to a business card or a quick scribble on a Post-It Note, than they will remember your username, even if that username is your actual name. Now, if your name is John Brown and there are 587 other John Browns on Facebook, than choosing a short, easy to remember and distinctive username can help you immensely. What is ironic, however, is that for the username to be an effective tool for finding you online, the less it resembles your real name and the more it resembles a chat room handle, the better off you’ll be. The whole point of implementing these Facebook usernames was to give your page’s URL a real feel, but what is going to be easier to remember? Facebook.com/john.brownNYC32 or Facebook.com/NYCdesigner? Facebook usernames were meant to make finding people easier and to give your URL a human quality, but it appears that they have missed the boat on this one.