Profiles · Personal Branding

Would it be a business opportunity for Social Networks to offer vanity-domains?

Pedro P. Grande

January 20th, 2016

We use often our profiles of SocialNetorks like facebook or LinkeIN or even twitter as our presentaion card, and they offer the posibility of vanity-urls that allow users to send their profile in a nicer looking link.

On the other hand, users can always buy their own domains and make something as simple a frame redirection on their profiles, but thats far from the point of having a personal page.

So, Would be a business oportunity fto have vanity-domains?

LinkedIn (as example) could offer a more personaliced page than LinkedIn/in/yourusername, looking like a profesional profile on yourusername.in (again, as example).

Wouldn't that add value to the users?, and so new way of monetizing the SocialNetworks?

and more important:
How much would you be willing to pay for somethig like this?


Looking forward to your opinions!

Dustin Williams Business Systems, Software Development, Information Technology

January 22nd, 2016

I think you're missing a very big red flag. This concept has been around since the very beginning of the web but it's never taken off. There was a small time when everyone wanted their own "vanity" URL (late 90's early 2000's) but as services like GeoCities & WYSWYG website hosts, were replaced by social networks the demand for a custom URL went with them.

Anyway this is a really easy thing to test. Go to a large social networking group and offer to setup people with custom URLs that redirect to their social media accounts. If there is a demand they'll happily pay you 20 bucks to set it up (10 for the .com & 10 for setup fee). If you have to convince people they need it, you're wasting your time.

Dustin Williams Business Systems, Software Development, Information Technology

January 26th, 2016

Dustin, you mention the demand for custom URL has gone down, may it be due to the easiness of searching for profiles on google?

Not in my opinion. I think it's gone down because it's easy to find people on social networks. It's hard to come up with easy to remember URLs. So in the end it became impossible to remember how to get to their vanity site. Example you'd see URLs like this a lot. DJCrazyDavidNewYork.com 

People had to save them to their bookmarks but this was difficult to manage, so no one really uses bookmarks anymore. 

"Your personal page based on the information you already have on LinkedIn, but with a new/personalized look"

This is a terms of service violation on just about every major social network. Falls under the category of reproducing features. 

I didn't find clear existing examples of it, I am convince that they exist.

Here is an example of failed "Social Network Aggregators". Like I said, people have been trying this concept in lots of different forms. None have been more then a temporary solution to a fairly small problem. 
http://mashable.com/2007/07/17/social-network-aggregators/#Z3qOFnMYc8qh

Dustin Williams Business Systems, Software Development, Information Technology

January 26th, 2016

I think About.me is the latest version of this idea. I have one, but I don't use it. I don't know anyone who does. 

https://about.me

Noah Webster Co-Founder at Joir

January 26th, 2016

Pedro, yes, social media doesn't do a pure vanity domain, they do facebook.com/pedro, which I think is what people really are quite happy to use. Anyone who wants a custom domain can buy one from many sources, such as godaddy, directly. I personally don't see the demand. Just offering my 2 cents.

Pedro P. Grande

January 22nd, 2016

Hi Noah,
facebook and twitter (and LinedIN) and so, offer vanity-URL, but do they do vanity-domains?
may you give me an example?, can't find one


Dustin Williams Business Systems, Software Development, Information Technology

January 22nd, 2016

Pedro this has been tried many times over the past 20 years. We did it in my second company (an ISP) back in 1995.

Here's a better way to frame the question. Why don't you think Godaddy or any other registrar is capitalizing on this potential opportunity? It's very easy to buy a domain name and to add a CNAME record to DNS.

Pedro P. Grande

January 22nd, 2016

Dustin, exactly this I mean, companies like 1&1 give this value proposition, and without knowing their numbers in detail, I presume they are not bad as they keep advertising it. (Godaddy is not so known in Europe)

On the other hand, medium and small companies run into buy a domain and work with a (i.e.) wordpress with a paid-theme and a bunch of headaches from time to time.



Pedro P. Grande

January 26th, 2016

I am sure this is not a BRAKING-NEW feature, and even I didn't find clear existing examples of it, I am convince that they exist.

Dustin, you mention the demand for custom URL has gone down, may it be due to the easiness of searching for profiles on google?

Noah mentioned that some socialNetworks offer this feature, does anybody know a service that offers you a "vanity domain" ?

You test is interesting, and I have to think how to implement properly to make a good test case. 
But my proposal is beyond offering a "LinkedIn profile under your personal domain". More in line with "Your personal page based on the information you already have on LinkedIn, but with a new/personalized look"


Pedro P. Grande

January 27th, 2016

Thanks a lot guys, it has been of a lot of help!

Dustin Williams Business Systems, Software Development, Information Technology

January 27th, 2016

I think there is opportunity in personal brand management. Instead of trying to work backwards from the product idea to the customers, work from the customers to the idea. Talk to people and see what they're struggling with. 

Asking open ended questions is always the best, in my opinion. 

What do you think social networks can do for you? 

How good are you at engaging others? 

How do you figure out what your target demographic is & how to reach them? 

What are you good at with promoting your personal brand? 

What are you bad at with promoting your personal brand? 

best of luck!