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The Facebook Landrush

Written by: Bill Sherman on Monday, 15 June 2009, 7:51 AM

On Friday evening, over one-million Facebook users joined in on a landrush to claim their custom extension to their Facebook page. Users could now be have memorable identities that they could put on a business card. Compare these two urls:

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.sherman
  • http//www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1544430393&ref=nf

Now, I’ll admit, I was one of those people who logged on to acquire my custom url. My name is common enough that it’s hard to get it on social media. Mashable.com reports that 1 million user ids were claimed within the first hour and 3 million user-ids were claimed within 24 hours.

Now, the landrush wasn’t prompted by a cool new technology innovation. Other social media tools, such as livejournal have allowed custom usernames for ten years.

So, there’s a broader point here. Today, sites like Facebook and Twitter are the social media tools of the day. However, they have to constantly evolve, because there’s a low-level of brand loyalty between users and the brand. Formerly popular websites–such as Friendster and now MySpace, have struggled as users have abandoned their platforms.

With new applications, such as Google’s Wave, today’s platforms must continue to evolve.

Users want to communicate and stay-in-touch with their core friends as well as their remote acquintances. They want to be able to schedule parties, participate in viral memes, and scribble notes to each other. Those core desires can be met through a variety of applications.

When designers look at social network applications, they need to think about the underlying principles of social capital–does the application increase a user’s ability to locate or mobilize resources within their network? Instead of becoming charmed with the latest feature, developers should go to the core of what their users truly want to achieve.

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