LEAVE IT TO FACEBOOK...
...to randomly change the ground under your feet. Of all the things which are important to your business' web presence, the addresses people use to find you is near the top of the list. Lose your URL and you can become invisible.
However, URLs pose another problem which most businesses don't take into consideration: the fact that you can have too many URLs for the same web property. And now it seems that Facebook has decided to give your business page one more.
Big deal, you might say? Well if you're a large organization with lots of brands or locations, your problems just got multiplied...
One...Two...Three...paths to your web presence
When you (or one of your employees) first created a Facebook page (aka a "point-of-presence" or POP) for a product, brand, or store location of your business, it probably looked something like this:
If you're like most companies, you probably stashed that first URL in one or more spreadsheets your business uses to inventory your web properties.
At some point, you might have acquired what Facebook calls a "vanity" URL:
Hopefully, you replaced that original URL in your spreadsheet with the new vanity URL but what about every other place someone from your business might have used that old URL? For example, did someone put that old URL on a Twitter, Google+ or Youtube profile? It is likely you have more than one URL floating around inside your business or out "in the wild," and people will find them and use them. Even if you replaced the old URLs in your spreadsheet with the new URLs, there's a good chance some are going to creep back in any time you do a social media audit.
Lucky for you (and every other business owner), Facebook has decided to introduce yet another non-vanity URL format:
As you can see they've dropped the "/pages/" part of the URL and moved the ID number to being part of the handle rather than being separated out by another slash (/). It certainly is a cleaner-looking URL and if someone queries the Facebook API for page without a vanity URL, they will now get the new URL:
So, that means you have at least three URLs which could reference your POP.
But wait, there's more....Facebook actually allows (and we have seen) another form of the URL:
So, one point-of-presence for a product, brand, or store on Facebook can have at least four (4) URLs which may be used, one way or another, to identify it. If your company has a different presence for a brand in every location (e.g. neighborhood, city, state, country) or language, then you just got a few hundred (or a few thousand) more URLs to manage!
One way to mitigage the implications of this change is to ensure each of your pages has a vanity url. Facebook has a page where you can claim a vanity URL for any page you manage and claiming yours is worth the effort.
Oh, and this problem is not limited to Facebook. Youtube is phasing out the old "/user/" URLs, migrating everything to channels (with a "/channel/" URL), and offering "custom" URLs for each channel. So, that's at least three URLs for Youtube channel:
Of course, Google+ not only has their original number-based URL for each profile or page but also the custom URL version (i.e. "/+username" form):
Finally, there's LinkedIn but that's a topic for another article.
So, you can try to keep this all straight manually but the best solution is to use a web presence manager which will automatically identify, track and resolve any duplicates because some platform decided to change the way your web properties are addressed.