Businesses warned to register Facebook profiles before someone else does

Businesses should register Facebook profile page names before another company or individual registers the same name in a method known as ‘cyber-squatting’, social media experts warn.

The warnings come after the social networking giant last week allowed users to pick individual profile names; a feature already seen on rival sites such as Twitter and MySpace.

Over three million Facebook users have registered individual profile names, with 500,000 registered in the first 15 minutes after registration was allowed, while some have managed to register the names of celebrities and businesses to which they have no connection.

Safeguards were initially put in place by the site, with companies able to register their names before regular users on Saturday afternoon, and the site maintains that it has the right to remove usernames “at any time for any reason”.

But some businesses may have missed out, and Jasmine Batra, chief executive of SEO firm Arrow Marketing, says that businesses need to move quickly in order to establish their space on the site.

“Absolutely, businesses should be doing this. In terms of ensuring that there are plenty of people getting to you, they actually do need to get you, not someone else. There are some users who would be sneaky, and upload images as an avatar and make the business look like a person, and do some damage to its reputation.”

Batra recommends that businesses should not try to be clever with their business name, and should just register the same name that appears elsewhere on the internet and in advertising.

“Just straightforward registration of the name itself, nothing else extra needs to be added.”

Fred Schebesta, director of online marketing firm Freestyle Media, says that businesses should move quickly to establish an online presence with the new profile names.

“If I was in any niche, I’d be definitely considering registering a Facebook profile name closely aligned to the brand name. But you also need to be going for the generic names as well. If you’re in the personal training business, you want something generic like ‘Personal Training Sydney’.”

“Facebook is a lot more search engine-friendly now, so there is opportunity to create a profile page about your business and point it back to your site.”

Facebook has said businesses who find their username is taken can appeal to the company, although prevention is still much better than cure.

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