Ever since Facebook announced ‘usernames’ in 2009, they’ve been a handy tool in the armoury, adding an extra touch of professionalism to pages, keeping the brand guys happy and helping them to rank for company or brand names.

The ’25 likes’ rule

It used to be the case that you could only claim a custom Facebook username (or vanity URL) if you had over 25 likes. That number was probably picked to stop spammers, or people who wanted to ‘squat’ the URLs, being able to register them en masse. It meant you couldn’t just setup a page and choose a URL, you had to hustle a little, get friends, family and employees to like the page so you could hit that magic number and claim the name you want before someone else got it.

Late 2011 – No likes required to claim a Facebook username

Late last year Facebook removed that barrier and it appeared that anyone with a page could claim a vanity URL, regardless of the number of likes their page had accrued. Marketeers rejoiced and everyone’s friends, family and employees stopped having to like Acme Sprockets on Facebook to hit the magic ’25′.

What’s changed? Are we back to the 25 likes rule?

Up until the other day the zero likes rule seemed be in affect. It now seems that the 25 like limit may have returned. I’ve personally seen it on numerous occasions this past week.

These were all brand new pages, zero likes but the message about the page being ineligable for a username had returned:

Pagename is not eligible for username at this time. In the future,Pagename will be able to set a username

So I had a look online to see what the consensus was. Not much to be seen from the last month or so but I did find this post on iCrossing by Jelly which seemed to suggest that yes, the 25 like limit was back in place. But, they’d found a workaround, a lengthy one, but a workaround nonetheless.

I’ll be honest, I’m always looking for a way to do something better or quicker, ideally better and quicker 🙂 The method I’ve found isn’t better if the iCrossing method results in you being able to claim a Facebook username or vanity URL – but it’s definitely quicker.

Claiming your Facebook username with zero likes (or any number less than 25)

This method requires you have control of two Facebook accounts. I’m using one only used to create pages (referred to as the ‘first account’) and a personal account (referred to as the ‘second account’).

1. Sign into the first account and create the page. Log out (copy the page URL, you’ll need it)

2. Sign into the second account (in this case my personal account),visit the new page and like it (so technically your new page will have one like when you claim the username, not zero). Sign out.

3. Sign with your first account again, make the second account an admin on the page. Sign out.

4. Finally sign in with the second account and visit facebook.com/username and you should be able to choose a username for the page.

Points to note:

I’ve had my personal account since around 2007 so there’s a bit of age and trust there

The other account has been around for similar amount of time but is used almost exclusively to create and manage pages.

Whilst creating the pages I completed some of the basic info, added a profile image and a cover photo.

I also added a status update linking out to a blog post.

Let me know if you try this method and if it’s working for you. I doubt it will work for all, but if you have a reasonably old account with some history maybe that’d what’s enabling people to still claim Facebook usernames without any likes?