Make Your Social Media Username A Domain — Maximize Brand Awareness
The Social Funnel
Brands use social media to find, attract and maintain an audience with the sole purpose of turning followers into customers. That’s how the game is played. If you are using social media as part of a sales strategy then the objective is to get social followers off of social media platforms and onto your website (where the transaction can occur). This is no small task. As these platforms get more saturated and brands see the return on engagement (similar to ROI but think “likes = sales”), funnelling users from social media to your website is only getting more difficult.
This is compounded by the fact that social platforms DO NOT WANT YOU TO DO THIS.
In fact, having users “leave” their platform goes against everything these companies believe. For the big social platforms native engagement is how they butter their toast and the moment a user leaves so, too, do the analytics. As I write this, all the big social platforms are gearing up for a war to host your content. Want a recent example? Look no further than Facebook’s Instant Articles becoming available to all publishers. A collection of Instant Articles is essentially a native micro-website.
It’s not hard to read between the lines and see that social platforms want to create a closed network of content and advertisements (and eventually transactions — watch for this one, it’s going to be a doozy). But, who profits the most from the ad placement on social media? Hint: It ain’t you.
We’ve all seen this. “Link In Bio” is an Instagram staple for anyone looking to benefit from the content they create. It grew from the realization that users would not cut and paste the links brands were putting in the comments. Too much friction. The only space that directly links out to an external website is the ONE bio link each user is allowed. For many brands this link has become a revolving door of products and a point of frustration for users retroactively browsing a brand’s profile.
A singular link means that URLs from past posts are impossible to archive. It also means that brands have to choose between sending potential customers to a single product page or to their homepage. This leaves a gap between peripheral brand awareness (which Instagram does well) and targeted click-throughs (which doesn’t always work). It’s a trade off…but it doesn’t have to be.
Link + Domain Username = Targeted Click-Throughs and Brand Awareness
Instagram and other social media platforms have a small loop-hole that came out of their need to expand the number of usernames. Where Twitter and older platforms only allow usernames to be a combination of Letters (A-Z) and Numbers (0–9), Instagram/Snapchat and other newer platforms allow usernames to include a “ . ” (dot).
Immediately, marketers and brand managers everywhere thought the same thing: I can make my username my brand’s domain. So, instead of being “Pitchcom” or “Pitchdotcom” a username, in theory, could be “Pitch.com” (which actually looks like a URL and not an intercom used for tuning instruments).
Or can it?
Turns out your username cannot end in “.com”. Whether Facebook is worried about diluting the Instagram brand with these usernames or they have a bigger play in mind is debatable but, regardless, no “.com” usernames.
No dotcom, No Problem
What’s funny about the Instagram not allowing “.com” usernames is that it brings us right back to the “dotcom dilemma” that many startups have faced: You have a great company name but can’t get the domain you want.
Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a lot of brand experts go off the “dotcom” grid to market companies. Utilizing a library of TLDs (top-level domains) to make the brand and the domain one and the same. There’s a good article about it here. Domains like lover.ly, pistach.io, indievoic.es, etc. are both creative and double as constant brand marketing every time a link is sent or received.
You probably see where I’m going with this but, yes, if your domain does not end in “.com” it can also be your Instagram (and Snapchat) username.
Giving brands the ability to promote their URL with every post and keep their bio link topical and relevant to products.
It’s not a perfect solution but it works. Give it a try, keep those (fire emoji) memes coming and never have to choose between sending customers to your homepage or your product page ever again.