<< by on September 10th, 2009
The race has begun. It’s been going on for some time now. I’m talking about the race to claim your social networking user names and domains. Facebook enabled usernames on June 12 of this year and users scrambled to claim their vanity URL. That’s why we claimed our Facebook fan page name as soon as we could! Companies and people have hurried to claim the right social media usernames, much like the land grab days of domains. But in some cases, well-known, successful companies haven’t acted quickly enough. Pandora, Coke and Fedex surprisingly don’t own their most common nicknames on Twitter. Individuals do.
The @Pandora account was created in July of 2006, and the @Pandora_Radio account didn’t come about until February of 2008. Tweeps probably assume that @Pandora would be the correct handle when talking about the great songs they’re listening to on Pandora. A PR professional I respect and follow on Twitter made this exact assumption recently. NicolePRexec @replied to Pandora with comments about the good song picks that day. Had only Pandora acted more quickly and registered with Twitter as soon as possible, their brand would have a shorter, more concise twitter handle that reflects how people talk about their brand. I’ve rarely heard anyone say Pandora Radio.
Next up: The Coca-Cola Company does not own @Coke. Someone named Chris does, and has one tweet: “drinking coke.” Thanks to whendidyoujointwitter.com, I quickly found the @Coke account joined in March of 2007, where the Coca-Cola Company didn’t join until March of 2009.
If a company wants to guide their messaging by owning their own product nicknames, it would be a smart move to register their company name and any major products or current campaign names. The big thing to avoid is an account posing as the real company…why do you think “the_real _____” is a common sighting on Twitter?
Coca-Cola is a beloved product and brand. But in my opinion, people might be inclined to tweet using @Coke, not even realizing they’re communicating with Chris.
Same goes for FedEx. Most people refer to Fedex as…well, Fedex. In quick Twitter updates, people won’t think to seek out the proper accounts for Fedex. I found about 25 instances in a week where @Fedex was mistaken for the company. According to whendidyoujointwitter.com @Fedex joined in August of 2007, and @FederalExpress joined April of 2008. The Fedex Mike, Pam, Dolores and Robin accounts were started April of 2009. The fact that Federal Express does not own @Fedex creates more online monitoring work to pick up “Fedex” and “@Fedex” mentions of their brand.
As a company or individual, if you don’t act quickly to reserve your username, someone else just might. Last month, an individual attempted to use a trademarked company name as a Twitter username, cybersquatting, and requesting money in return for the company’s Twitter account. However, the company, StartUpNation, fought back and won the battle.
My advice: avoid this from the get go. Whether its confusion, dilution of trademark or a Twitter handle up for ransom, it can be avoided by registering your brand with social media sites that involve usernames. To check to see if anyone has already registered your name or company brand on social media sites, you can check out knowem.com or namechk.com. While you’re at it, register your name or company with a domain name if you haven’t already. Once you’ve registered, don’t feel pressured to fully engage on Twitter, Facebook etc. The first step is reserving those usernames!
To companies with no registered social media accounts or sites that claim your brand – think fast.
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