Don’t forget to set up your Facebook page ASAP

I’ve talked to a few business lately that ended up finding squatters on their ideal Facebook URL.  Yeah, it’s the new “AOL Keyword”, but it’s just expected these days.  Same thing with your twitter name.  It’s just not as simple as securing your domain name anymore.  But there are more reasons to start early on Twitter and Facebook than just avoiding squaters and beating competitors… Here is the first mistake I made with KickoffLabs and Facebook:

Facebook does not have a way to associate URLs with pages. 

This means that http://kickofflabs.com can never really be tied to http://facebook.com/kickofflabs.  There are separate likes, fan counts, and facebook insight reports. 

When I initially published the landing page for kickofflabs.com I set the Facebook like button to the kickofflabs.com URL.  I’d also set the following meta-tag in the page header to “link” our page with our domain:

    <meta content=’200576366633574′ property=’fb:page_id’ />

Along with other Open Graph protocol information.

The assumption was that this would tie the URL to the domain.  But that’s not the case. As of today you have a choice:

1. Have people like your URL and manage the interaction there.  Which is more complicated… but you can do this and have your URL publish stories to Facebook just like it’s a Facebook page itself. 

2. Have people like your Facebook page and publish stories from your URL.  This option is much more user friendly if you are just getting started… but keeps the relationships tied to the Facebook URL instead of  your site. 

You can use the URL linter on Facebook http://developers.facebook.com/tools/lint/ to see what’s going on by entering something like http://microsoft.com and comparing it to http://facebook.com/microsoft.  They’ve push most of the fan activity to the facebook page…but over 5k people have liked the microsoft.com URL directly and generated social activities with it.

So what did we choose:

Since we had the Facebook page http://facebook.com/kickofflabs  we decided to just have our like button link to that instead of our own URL.  The upside is that it’s easier to manage publishing content to fans on facebook.  The downside is that the facebook insights on our domain (for liked blog entries, visits, or someone just sharing a URL directly by posting a link) are now separate and we have to look at both of them if we want aggregate data.

Back to the moral of this story… before you get too many people sharing your URL you want to decide if you want them liking that or your Facebook Page.  So secure your Facebook page ASAP and you can push people to congregate there.  Thankfully only 14 people had shared our URL when we made the switch and most of them had also liked our Facebook page. 

A Message to My Friends and Family

drive thru treeYou may have noticed that I’m starting to talk more about what I’m working on publicly. I’ll do my best not to spam you continually about my startup business ventures.  It’s a tough line to straddle as you are getting started.  Word of mouth is critical and ones own networks are key to spreading your message. I love all the support I’ve received. I do, however, have a few things to ask of you… and none of them involve money. Smile 

1. Do what you’d normally do and share what’s interesting to you.  It doesn’t help anyone if you blindly share things you don’t believe in… but do overshare things that are really interesting to you because your other friends might find it interesting as well.

2. Tell me what you really think. I hear “X is a good idea” enough from strangers who want to be polite. Half the time I’m tempted to just make something crazy up just to see how polite people really are. I want to know if you think something I’m working on just isn’t going to work and why. I can take it. I may think I’ve found a way through the tree… but I like to know about them coming.

3. Enjoy the ride. You all have a front row seat to learn from my adventures into being a bootstrapped entrepreneur. I’m sure there will be lessons learned along the way you may get to take advantage of someday.

4. Let Gretchen know how awesome she is. She went through starting her own business first and I wouldn’t be able to do this if it weren’t for her.  She’s an amazing woman, has shown great patience with me, and I could not be more grateful for having her and our son Gabe to be in love with.