Choosing a domain name for your website is the first step when starting a new website (written about previously here: Starting a Movie Website (WordPress Edition): Choosing and Registering a Domain Name and here: Starting a Movie Website (Blogger Edition): Domain Name, Online Steps). The name, i.e. the brand of your website, will grow to define you and your product to the world. That is why it is of paramount importance.
This significance and branding extends to social networks as well.
Once you have decided on a domain name but before you purchase it, ask yourself a question: Have others thought of that name on social networks?
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Before we get to that, what is a domain name?
Domain Name Defined
A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Technically, any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.
Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general, a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a web site, or the web site itself or any other service communicated via the Internet.
Domain names are organized in subordinate levels (subdomains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless. The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, info, net and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Below these top-level domains in the DNS hierarchy are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users who wish to connect local area networks to the Internet, create other publicly accessible Internet resources or run web sites. The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.
A fully qualified domain name (FQDN) is a domain name that is completely specified in the hierarchy of the DNS, having no omitted parts. Domain names are usually written in lowercase, although labels in the Domain Name System are case-insensitive.
An Example of a Badly Chosen Domain Name
Before you choose and purchase a domain name for your website, check popular social networks to make sure that name is available and not already in use. Remember in 2011 when Netflix decided to split its services and one of the new services was called Qwikster? No one at Netflix had checked to see if Qwikster was an available @address on Twitter. It turns out it was not. It had already been registered and was in use by a highschool student.
If there is one downside of Netflix’s decision to cancel Qwikster, it is that Jason Castillo, the semi-coherent, weed-curious high-schooler who owned the Twitter handle @Qwikster, never got to extort Reed Hastings and his company for all the money that he could. The single bright side in the monumentally stupid Qwikster fiasco was the existence of @Qwikster; there was an unspoken hope that the totally undeserving, totally unprepared and likely totally blazed owner of that Twitter handle would somehow stumble into a large financial payday from Netflix, which would have represented some kind of victory-by-proxy
This Twitter faux pas made Netflix a laughing stock and they would have had to pay the owner of @Qwikster a small fortune to buy that Twitter handle. All this turmoil because no one at Netflix did their due diligence before deciding on the brand and domain name of Qwikster.
Will this be you when you decide to start a new website?
Procedure and Check List
Cover yourself before you purchase a domain name. Research. Make sure your chosen domain name and brand are available on all the important social networks before you purchase a domain name.
If I were you, I would register the social network names and pages before purchasing the domain name. That way no one in the interim can swoop in and register them out from under you. Registration is free. Purchasing a domain name is not. Be prudent.
Here is a social network check list you should use before you purchase a domain name:
1. Check to see if the Twitter account is available.
2. Check to see if the Facebook Like Page account is available.
3. Check to see if the Tumblr account is available.
4. Check to see if the Pinterest account is available.
5. Check to see if the Google+ account is available.
6. Check to see if the Instagram account is available.
7. Check to see if the Sina Weibo account is available. (Optional for now)
Reevaluation and Conclusion
If one or more of these accounts is not available, consider choosing a new domain name, one that you can socially register across the board. Like I said before, you want everything to be in sync and for your brand to be easily found on any social network.
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The harder it is to find you, the more potential followers, likes, fans, tweets, and interactions you will lose out on.
Social branding is important. Make it easy for people to find you everywhere by being consistent and choosing the same name on every social network.