Yesterday I attended a Social Media Breakfast in Atlanta where my friend Taryn Pisaneschi spoke quite extensively about branding. After the event I went back to my office to set up half a dozen new social profiles across several channels for different branches of our main brand. Let me say this; without the dose of inspiration that Taryn delivered earlier on the topic, I very well might have become frustrated enough to simply rush through the days projects and make mistakes that would be hard to reverse at a later date. The thought of setting fire to the southbound end of a northbound cow with an iron was looking like an easy job by day’s end.
“A brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, or slogan. The word brand began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. A legally protected brand name is called a trademark. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – in effect the personality of a product, company or service.” – Wikipedia
Depending on your company’s name and line of work, branding your new profiles across the social web can be a serious challenge. Logo’s and colors are easy enough to keep uniform across the miles; it’s the name that’ll give you a new twitch in your eyelid. Today for me was reminiscent of the domain name wars of days gone by. There’s only one yourcompany.com, and just as it was, it remains – first come, first served. To all you “Joe’s Pizza” parlors in the world, I hate it for you!
Here’s the thing, with a domain name, you only had to do it once…if you had to settle on joezpizza.com you could possibly work with this. Now, with the need to have several touchpoints for your business across many different social media channels, it can be quite the challenge to secure the same name on them all. Being @joespizza on Twitter may not be an option that’s available to you. On Foursquare and Facebook you may find that even the incorrect variations of your name are taken. With hundreds of sites to consider having a presence on, what to do?
Whether you are dealing with this as you expand your touchpoints across the web, or you’re new to social media and just now starting out, there are some important things to consider. This is your brand, and uniformity is important. Any one of your social outposts has the real possibility to be the front door for your business on the web. Finding out what’s available and what’s not before you commit to even one of these outposts can be a really good idea. Namechk.com is a great place to start. The site simply takes the name you type in and checks availability across 149 of the popular social media sites.
If you are forced to adopt something other than your simple name, consider the perspective of the searcher on the web. What name will they be looking for? If there are other Joe’s Pizza establishments already established on the web and social sites, are all of them at 2704 3rd Avenue in Topeka? Would joespizza3rdavenue or joespizzatopeka work for you? Be as descriptive and unique as you can be. Imagine 10 Joe’s Pizza listings on page one of a Google search…what will identify you?
I realize that you don’t need 149 touchpoints today, but securing your name now on as many as possible is a good practice. Who knew Foursquare was going to be this popular at this time last year? Who knows what will be all the rage and valuable for businesses next year? Start with what’s popular today, and those that you know you’ll need to be active on, and work your way down from there. You’ll be glad you did!
If you are managing a larger enterprise and need some professional help with this, there are services such as KnowEm.com that will help you to accomplish this for a reasonable price. Mashable did a post a while back called 25+ Ways to Manage Your Online Identity and there are some interesting resources and solutions there as well. Millions of new accounts and profiles are set up on the web each hour, the sooner you get out there and claim your name the better as far as I’m concerned. I’m back to living what I’m preaching now…I’m well into day 2 of the name claim game at the new office.
Of the 149 social media sites listed on Name Check, how many do suggest businesses be active on? It's impossible to actively manage all 149 obviously, but how many would you suggest and if you had to pick the top 10 to be on and actively manage, which would those be?
As you mentioned in an earlier comment here on this blog, all of this is shifting and changing so rapidly that it's almost impossible to imagine what next year will look like. My point here is that it might be a wise thing to secure your name across as many of these as possible now. This is not to say you need to sign up and be active on as many as possible.
As to your specific question, this is a fuzzy area without some very specific research into an individual business. While I'd love to see everyone active on the bigger sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc., some businesses could find that their efforts on some of these yield little more than a measurable waste of time. What if a specific business is not one that lends itself well to video…and more importantly, what if that their audience doesn't connect with and respond to video…should they still be sinking time into video creation and building a community via YouTube?
Participation and activity across social channels should be as much or as little as needed to meet the goals established in that companies strategy for using social channels in the first place. I really appreciate your comment. I can't address it effectively in a comment response, but this question is deserving of a post on this topic in the near future. Watch for it!