From short codes to custom addresses, URLs are becoming more mobile friendly and easier to share via social media. The simplistic nature of these customized and truncated addresses is meant to make them easier to type on small keyboards (or to speak via voice recognition systems) on a mobile device.
This evolution in Internet addressing is another fine example of where technological change is intersecting with branding and marketing.
Vanity URLs allow for more well-presented clips on social media, and they simply look cleaner.” -Steven Daris, CEO of Red Apple Media
For example, following in the footsteps of Facebook and parent company Twitter, Vine is now allowing its users to register custom vanity URLs, such as Vine.co/xbiz, which use short branded links to direct visitors to a poster’s profile on the social video sharing service.
According to Red Apple Media CEO Steven Daris, using a vanity URL on sites such as Vine or Facebook is always helpful for branding purposes.
“[Vanity URLs] allow every video posted to be immediately associated with your user account to ideally build a following,” Daris told XBIZ. “Though because you can’t name the video itself, you are still stuck with Vine.com/redapplemedia/[insert random key words here], so it’s not a perfect tool.”
Although the vanity URL capability is not the end-all for marketers, Daris finds value in the proposition on several fronts.
“If I owned a content site, let’s call it SexyFunTimes.com, I’d be happy to tease my videos with G-rated clips and benefit from the visual branding provided from the vanity URL on each,” Daris says. “While it doesn’t necessarily affect business, vanity URLs allow for more well-presented clips on social media, and they simply look cleaner.”
Daris notes that no matter what someone decides to use for branding and marketing, they should never stop tracking their progress; so they will know what works (and what does not); and recommends experimenting to see what it takes for a clip to “trend” online.
“Commoditize your efforts and don’t post for posting’s sake, especially if your videos are poorly done or feature content that violates strict terms of services,” Daris explains. “Your images — or even your account — can be removed at will, and you will end up doing more harm than good.”
This need for care makes seeking professional help a reasonable proposition.
BSG Public Relations’ chief Brian Gross told XBIZ that Vine’s new offering is an opportunity for adult performers to increase awareness for themselves and their brand.
“They are savvy in the fact that they know their audience,” Gross says. “They know what their audience wants [so] opportunities like this will be beneficial to everyone.”
Some observers predict that porn stars will be among the largest markets for vanity URLs, since they are useful for leveraging social media initiatives.
Adult social media marketer Lauren MacEwen of 7Veils.com says that custom URLs solve a publicity problem for performers and promoters who can now share their profiles.
“The only way for people to follow you was directly on the Vine app, through one of your videos. [The new] custom URL will allow people to share their actual Vine profiles, as opposed to a single Vine,” MacEwen explains. “It will be able to mirror your branding, thus reinforcing your social and overall branding strategies.”
MacEwen notes that custom URLs allow performers to increase their following by sharing profiles, and to protect their brand by grabbing their “official” name. Vine saves custom URLs reflecting the names of verified Twitter users for the use of these accounts, but still requires users to register their URL.
“Claiming your name also insures that the property is yours and not being used by someone trading on your name,” MacEwen added. “It gives you the opportunity to add more authenticity to your Vines.”
When performers are crafting a persona, fostering this sense of authenticity is vital. For webmasters accustomed to crafting long, key word laden, search engine friendly URLs, the shift to short, branded URLs may be more of a challenge than it is for models used to texting at the speed of light — and who most appreciate an easy to type URL.
Vanity URLs along with custom content promoted via social media makes a fabulous opportunity for performers seeking to control their stardom — but is a balancing act that only pays dividends if done carefully, and according to the rules of the sites being used.
There are other less obvious concerns as well; including the ultimate ownership of the material posted on social media sites, its legitimate reuse by the host site, and its piracy — along with other unexpected surprises that can affect the balance of benefit vs. “cost.”
“Remember, once you release your content on a third-party site, you give up all rights to the images used,” Red Apple Media’s Daris concludes. “So make sure it’s worth it.”