Tag Archives: brand management

“Safety in Numbers: How to Fight Brand Hijacking on Twitter”

Last week a reporter asked my opinion on the state of brands on Twitter after the Exxon Twitter-jacking debacle.

“As more companies move on to Twitter, how are we to know who is real and who is a fake?” she asked.  “How can a reporter or a consumer know that this person can be a trusted source?”

With Exxon, someone named Janet had claimed to be the Exxon Mobil community manager.  Forrester Research’s Jeremiah Owyang got excited that Exxon was getting involved with Twitter–3 days later, it turned out Janet was a fake.  She hadn’t said anything negative about Exxon, and actually did a great job of addressing people’s questions…but she’d hijacked the brand.  Other big companies might not be so lucky.

Back in the old 1.0 days of the Internet, you could be pretty much anyone–a 40 year old man pretending to be a 13 year old girl–and no one would know otherwise.  In the Web 2.0 world, however, our identities are built on and confirmed by our relationships.

Using Facebook as an example, my identity is more-or-less confirmed by my friends.  Not that it can’t be forged, but by checking my profile, my friends, my work network, etc., you’d be able to make a fairly good guess as to whether I was real or not.

Nope, Twitter doesn’t confirm your identity–but you can still use the network to validate someone.  Jeremiah could have easily searched on Twellow for other Exxon employees on Twitter.  Had their been any Exxon employees (there aren’t), he would have been able to ask them about Janet.  Did they know her? Exxon is a big company, so maybe not…but I bet they have a directory in Outlook.

Companies like Dell, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft all have tons o’ employees on Twitter, making it easy to find a spokesperson. (Click links for Twellow searches).

A couple of steps any company can take to ensure their brand is protected:

  • Don’t just create a XYZCo generic Twitter account, get as many employees on Twitter as possible
  • Add any official Twitter names to the company’s main contact page
  • Encourage employees to mention company name in Twitter profile
  • Create a directory of employees in the company on Twitter and distribute internally
  • Encourage employees to add each other.  Even if they may not work together, Twitter can help strengthen the camaraderie within a company
  • Encourage employees to respond to any Tweets about the company they see — bonus if they search for the company’s name or industry keywords

There you go. Now whenever a reporter, blogger or consumer is looking for a company rep, they can find many to whom they can turn!  Oh, and it might not hurt to claim your company’s name–if it isn’t already taken!

What systems does your company have in place to validate Twitter screen names?  Do you have just a generic name? Do you let employees actively Tweet?

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[The above photo, “Kids at zebra crossing” by fiskfisk on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Community Relations, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Social Networking

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Chris Heuer, The Conversation Group”

Like the cold winter wind, today’s biting “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min” will chill your bones!

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. The videos are meant to encourage dialog between PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

This week, socialTNT met up with Chris Heuer, partner at social media communications firm The Conversation Group. He’s also an executive and cofounder of the Social Media Club. In today’s episode, Chris tells us his definition of social media and proclaims that PR is dead.

When Chris and I met, we started talking about his book, a discussion of social media tools for internal communications. He enjoyes bouncing ideas off of people to spawn creativity. He also prefers working in collaborative, Socratic environments, so it’s not surprising that Chris cofounded the Social Media Club as a venue to share ideas about emerging media. This manifested itself throughout out our conversation; every time one of us would say something clever, he’d jot down notes in a a Moleskine notebook, potential ideas for the book. After a few minutes, our chat diverged away from his book and into a discussion of social networking, disposable attention, and brands.

As Brand managers everywhere try to stifle social media and maintain a uniform brand image, Chris promotes opening up. Instead of silencing employees, companies have to let go. To maintain, companies have to trust and educate their employees. To support his theory, Chris broke out a power point slide with a quote from Thomas Jefferson:

“I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but
people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not
to take the power from them, but to inform them by education.”

Fun Facts About Chris

  • Once taught Interactive Advertising at the Miami Ad School
  • Has a Virtual Assistant outside the country
  • Does not have or use an RSS reader
  • Is a hit-and-run Twitterer
  • In July 2007, married Kristie Wells, VP of Customer Advocacy at Joyent, the company that used to host Twitter
  • Prefers in-person, real world communication over its online counterparts, but you can still find him on Facebook and LinkedIn

Ever wonder exactly what social media is? Chris’s succinct definition is not to be messed. He also explains what changes Public Relations and Marketing will need to make in order to stay alive. Check it out:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wow. A lot to chew on. Is PR dead? Has social media killed it? What do you think PR will need to do to evolve? Is Schizophrenic Branding a problem? How do marketers deal with multiple voices coming out of their company? Let us know in the comments.

Quick Note: Today marks the first day socialTNT’s “3Q’s in 3Min” is available for download on iTunes. Yup, that’s right: Now you can view our video interviews with today’s top reporters and social media experts anywhere you want. Watch us on the train, at the gym or even at the break room of your stodgy PR or marketing firm. The last seven episodes are currently available in high-quality video, with the full library coming soon. Oh, and it’s all available to you for FREE! 🙂
Christopher Lynn - socialTNT - socialTNT

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[The above photo, “Utterz Meetup House of Shields – Chris Heuer” by Brian Solis, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Enterprise Public Relations, Internal Public Relations, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video Interview

“Brand of Brothers: A Social Media Chorus”

“No. 59″ by racatumba on flickrOver the last couple of days, many people are asking the question: Can brands be social? The vision of social media relations, to me, sees consumers interacting and conversing with a brand. So the question becomes, what is a brand?

Way back in the day, a brand was a symbol burnt into the hide of an animal to symbolize ownership. Modern day branding burns a stream of messages into consumers’ minds to reinforce the image or idea a company wants. A brand can also be identified by its logo or trademark, but traditionally a brand symbolizes a promise or experience a company aligns with a product or service through consolidated messaging.

Over the last couple of years, the notion of “brand” itself has been changing. With social media, consumers now have the ability to publish and spread their own messages about a brand through forums, blogs, Facebook groups, etc. This can create a sort of schizophrenic branding: Corporate messaging vs Consumer perception/messaging–also known as “reality”–clashing for the loudest voice. As Dell proved, modern brands have to step up to the plate and accept, interact and engage with the consumer, or they come across as being abstract and aloof from reality.

But consumer voices aren’t the only ones vying to be heard in the modern brand. In many companies, you have employees who blog. The new media tools allow all the voices within the company to have a chance to be heard, unseating the talking-head spouting corporate values/messaging from the ivory tower. As the blogosphere grows, I think these voices will become more splintered, but still add to the discussion and image of the brand. For example: Not that I would consider Todd Defren the ivory tower, but his blog combined with my blog, the SHIFT employee blog Unspun and Marie Williams’ Flackette blog help shape the brand image at SHIFT Communications. People looking for our services can find these voices and get a sense of what we are about as a firm.

The Twitterverse will be progressing more like the blogosphere. Since Twitter requires less effort than blogging, pretty soon you will have several people from a company Tweeting. For example, there are several of us that use Twitter at SHIFT. We engage with each other and our followers in a series of small conversations. As more tools come into play to harness the power, people will be able to follow our team (a micro-community), creating another extension of SHIFT Communications’ brand.

Since the new brand, to me, is the conversation that the corporation, its employees and its consumers are having, the new, evolved brand will need to get social, embrace social media or get passed by.

What do you think the modern brand is? Which came first, social media or the splintered/schizophrenic brand?

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[Above photo, “No. 59” by racatumba on flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking