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Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Flickr all have something in common (and it isn't their fancy Californian offices). No, it's the vanity URL.

Earlier this year Google announced they'd allow Google profile users to specify the URL for their profile, just as Facebook released their vanity URLs around one month ago.

Facebook launched their vanity URLs at 00:01am on 13th June (that was 5:01am GMT), and yes, I was the lucky member of the UK MOO Crew awake at 5:01am GMT to register www.facebook.com/moocards for MOO. But what is all the fuss about?

For big brands it may have been the fear that the www.facebook.com/coca-cola URL could have been hijacked by a competitor, or by someone with an 'interesting' sense of humour.

Protecting your brand has become increasingly important in a world where an online identity is as important as a physical one. If you’re not a big brand, it’s still pretty important to register your vanity URL.

For some people, their Facebook page is the face of their business, their Flickr photostream is their online portfolio and their LinkedIn profile their virtual CV. With the ability to link each of these to each other, through a single URL you can create a single touch-point for your online ID.

Most people include their email address, their phone number (and sometimes) their physical address on their Business Cards. At some point though, most people change their email address, their phone number and (almost certainly) their physical address. With a static vanity URL you can point people to one place and change all the details on it... So why not include your vanity URL on your Business Cards?

Using MOO’s 'text-o-matic' tools you could use your vanity URL to inspire your designs, or upload your own photos and include your URL on the reverse, just as you would with any other important detail. Here's a few I made earlier, using the text tools with Business Cards.

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