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Use Subdomains For Social Media Vanity Links

By Mike Allton | Small Business

Use Subdomains For Social Media Vanity Links image social media linksUse Subdomains for Social Media Vanity LinksThere are many social media platforms that businesses need to have a presence on, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Some will allow businesses to claim a “unique URL” that is short and personal, like, https://facebook.com/TheSocialMediaHat. Others, however, offer no such convenience. Our LinkedIn company page is at http://www.linkedin.com/company/the-social-media-hat - try giving someone that link over the phone! There are other websites and services available that will provide you with a “shortened” link, but those are non-standard and impersonal. Instead, we recommend using your own domain by creating subdomain redirects.

A subdomain is any word that precedes your domain name instead of www. Simply creating a subdomain through your hosting account control panel should be easy, and we’ll walk you through the exact steps in a moment using cPanel, the most common control panel. We will be setting up one subdomain for each social network we want to use.

A redirect simply tells a browser that when a user visits one address, send them to a different address. In this case, we’re going to set up a redirect for each new subdomain to send the visitor to the social network chosen.

For example, if I want to send someone to my Google+ business page for The Social Media Hat, I could give them the link, but it’s very long: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/106860584597630365429/106860584597630365429 – instead, we’re going to create a subdomain of thesocialmediahat.com. You can call it anything you want, but I’ve chosen to use gplus, so my new subdomain is gplus.thesocialmediahat.com. Once we’re finished, I will be able to tell anyone to go to http://gplus.thesocialmediahat.com and they’ll end up on my Google+ business page.

To start, log into your hosting accounts cPanel. For most, that means going to your domain name and adding /cpanel to the end of the URL. Your hosting company should have provided you with a username and password.

For most, your cPanel is divided into two columns. The left column, or sidebar, displays some statistics on your account, and the column to the right contains sections with icons for specific tasks, like, Email Accounts or Backups. Scroll down to the Domains section and look for the Subdomains icon and click it.

The Subdomains page has a section at the top for creating new subdomains, and a section below that will list any subdomains that have already been created.

In the Create Subdomain section, simply type in the word you want to use as a subdomain. Do not use any spaces or special characters, and keep it as short as possible. Remember, the point of this is to have a quick and easy URL to use. Click Create and your cPanel will create the subdomain, as well as a folder in your hosting account (which you won’t be using). Don’t worry if you make a mistake or change your mind – you can easily delete a subdomain later.

You should now see your new subdomain listed in the second section. Good job! We’re almost finished. Note that the second section has four columns, and the third column is labelled “Redirection” and your new domain has nothing. To the right are links to “Manage Redirection” and “Remove.” Click Manage Redirection. You’ll now see a field in which to put the actual URL for your social network account. We recommend visiting your profile in another tab or browser and copying the URL from your address bar. Make sure that you’re copying the public URL. If you aren’t sure, try opening the link in a different browser. Once you’re sure, paste the URL into the field on the redirection page and click Save.

That’s it! You now have a working subdomain that will redirect visitors to your social network. Repeat for each platform that you want to be able to more easily share. Test it in a new browser to be sure! If it fails for any reason, go back and check what you set up. You may also need to get in touch with your hosting company if they haven’t allowed subdomains. Finally, one roadblock to be aware of is that some companies may be using subdomains in a different, more dynamic way. For instance, some Drupal installations will use the Domain Access suite to be able to set up subdomains within the Drupal installation. If that’s the case for you, please consult a professional web developer or adviser before making any adjustments to your cPanel settings.

We recommend doing this for at least the top four networks, like:

  • http://gplus.thesocialmediahat.com
  • http://facebook.thesocialmediahat.com
  • http://twitter.thesocialmediahat.com
  • http://linkedin.thesocialmediahat.com

There’s certainly no limit to how many you can set up, and by doing it for all your networks, not just the ones with long names, you offer a consistent way for visitors and customers to find you online. Give it a try, and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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