You only get one shot, as unlike personal profiles or groups, you can’t change the name of a Facebook page once it has got more than 100 connections, or ‘likes’. When you hit 100 fans, you can’t change the name any way, ever. Well at least it looks like that’s what Facebook are sticking with, as far as I can tell. They won’t budge. And for a good reason I think, I don’t want people to be able to change the name of something I ‘Like’ after I have liked it. My friends can see that, and it could be changed to something I don’t ‘Like’. Which isn’t good.
So – choose your name carefully. Your stuck with it. As I see it, you have 3 ways to name your Facebook page.
Sometimes it can be hard to decide what the ‘normal name’ is. I believe it should be viewed as what normal people (not Staff or die-hard fans) call you in every day conversation. For example, do most people say ‘Marlowe’s Restaurant’ or just ‘Marlowe’s'? ‘Coca-cola’ or just ‘coke’. This is what people will search for, and just like the good old days of Search Engine Optimisation, your ‘normal’ name is what people will search for when looking for you. If your page is called this, it will come up first.
2. Your ‘normal’ name, with an added qualifier. Like – “Microsoft – Windows” or “Coca-Cola Soft Drink” or “Marlowe’s, Canterbury”
If your company is large, and has many departments, you can’t effectively use Facebook with just one page. People who might be interested in Microsoft’s OS updates, might not want to hear about their latest new hardware products like mice and keyboards. Although having a central ‘Microsoft’ page is important, further pages should be divided into niche pages – “Microsoft Software”, “Microsoft Windows”, “Microsoft Word”.
If your brand might split in the future, it might be useful to already have thought about this when naming their page. Although as far as I know, Coca-Cola only make drinks, in the future, what if they want to launch a chain of fast-food restaurants? If their page as “Coca-Cola Soft Drink” already has 40million fans, they don’t have to lose that, they can keep that page, and create a new one “Coca-Cola Restaurants” can be easily added to the portfolio of pages.
You may want to think about locations too. “Marlowe’s Restaurant” is great, but what about if they start a new Marlowe’s in Paris? The fans of each page would normally be very different. I.e, language + location. Special offers might be different. If the original page was “Marlowe’s Canterbury” adding another page called “Marlowe’s Paris” is nice and easy. This doesn’t matter so much as more ‘Location based’ features are added to Facebook pages, such as linking the page to a physical location on Facebook Places, using GPS and Check-ins to make it clear where the page is referring to, if multiple locations have the same name.
3. Novelty names, names that don’t mention the brand, or found too formal, and statements. Like – “Don’t let studio die! I support its move to Wincheap!” or “Rooksville Tourist Guide” or “Like this if you hate waiting!”
If the Facebook page is part of a short-term promotion, like the launch of a new car, or has a ‘shelf-life’ that means it serves a short-term purpose, then you might not be too worried about the name never being able to be changed. For example “Don’t Let Studio Die! I support its move to Wincheap”, a page to support a local council planning application. The title grabs people’s attention and is much more likely to get ‘Liked’. Because after the council have made their decision, the page has served it’s purpose and is no longer needed, the title never needs to be changed from the novelty title.
In the example of “Rooksville Tourist Guide” the page could be a page owned by a local bus service, to promote their service. At the same time as giving tourists useful information about sights, they can sell their bus passes. The page title is much more likely to be ‘Liked’ or even looked at than a page called “Rooksville Transport Services” – A much less useful application of a Facebook page.
You could be daring and change the name in the early days before you hit 100 fans. Having ‘I Love Pulse Fitness!’ to get you going, as a lot of people who agree are more likely to click it, and get the page off to a good start, but in the long run the page name would be much better off being just ‘Pulse Fitness’. You’d need to change the name before you hit 100 fans though, or your stuck with the original remember!
And then you’ve got to decide your ‘vanity URL’ – the pages ‘username’ which is what you send to people after www.facebook.com/. It doesn’t have to be the same, for example I have www.facebook.com/eddwitherssmc as the vanity URL for a page titled “Edd Withers – Social Media Consultancy“. This needs to normally be short and punchy, easy to remember. It needs all the qualities of a good domain name.