Don’t get BrandJacked: Confirming Your Corporate Twitter Account

I’m hearing of more and more brands starting to venture into the Twittersphere to listen, influence, and support customers. In fact, I’ve had 3-4 inquiry (client calls) at Forrester asking about Twitter for marketing.

Challenge: Anyone can Create an Twitter Account and Cause BrandJacking
A few months ago, many (myself included) were fooled by a brandjacking of “Janet” from Exxon Mobile, (see examples of others brands who were punk’d) who in reality wasn’t who she said she was. I’ve also heard from other brands that name squatters were taking corporate names and registering them, and some are saying negative things. Slow brands are often behind, and as a result have to deal with cleanup.

I’ve heard from some brands that if you contact Twitter, they will disallow anyone from registering your corporate name, but I can’t confirm this is true, if someone from Twitter wants to discuss with me how brands can best work with the microblogging tool, please let me know.

If your brand is planning on venturing into the twittersphere, after you develop a strategy based on the POST methodology, you should then confirm your twitter address so your customers and community can confirm it’s really you. Until we get a single sign on and identity verification process across the whole web, we need a way to confirm twitter accounts.

Solution: Confirm tour Corporate Twitter Account

1) Link to your twitter profile from your corporate website: Since no but official employees can edit your corporate website, this is an ‘official’ way of confirming identity. If your corporate site is Hitachi, then perhaps on the Hitachi news site, or official Hitachi blog (providing you have one) link to the Twitter account.

2) Cross link from your Twitter profile page to corporate site: Since most won’t know of the link from your corporate site, you now must update your Twitter profile (where you describe yourself) and point back to the corporate webpage that mentions the twitter account. This is called a “cross-link” and will confirm that the twitter account is official.

Are you a Twitter user? Require confirmation from brands before engaging. Anyone in the Twitter community who runs into a corporate twitter account, should point brands to this very blog post, and ask them to confirm their identity, if they don’t, ignore them. Hope this tip helps brands, consumers, and the twittersphere. Good luck all.

Update: The reason I did this post as I engaged in a conversation with Bissell, yup the vacuum company, as I was recently discussing getting a steam cleaner to deal with puppy Rumba’s number 1 spots. They approached me on Twitter (@wemeanclean) and suggested a product to me (the SpotBot), and I suggested that they confirm their identity, they have, and now have linked to their twitter account from the footer of their corporate homepage at Well done, you’ve now taken one more step closer to earning my trust, and I’m more likely to engage in conversation and take a closer look at your products.

Now, about those steam cleaners… I am in the market…

52 Replies to “Don’t get BrandJacked: Confirming Your Corporate Twitter Account”

  1. I had a squatter sitting on the brand name for a company I work with. The account was idle (following 2, 0 following). I contacted support and Twitter released the account to us.

  2. This is a good way to avoid twitter users from being fooled by the “Janet’s” of the twitterverse, and the process isn’t cumbersome on businesses. Brand validation only makes sense. Thanks for initiating this!

  3. @Jeremiah Our experience was similar to Chris’s. One of our franchises had registered our company name as a Twitter account. Twitter gave me the name of the individual and I was able to contact them to transfer the account to corporate HQ.

  4. Great post, Jeremiah. I recently worked on setting up a Twitter account for my former company on their behalf and one of the things I did immediately (aside from registering the name on Twitter) was to put a URL and a description that read “the official account of…” People have definitely been following the account ever since. Thanks for your post.

  5. Interesting views on this topic. I believe that large brands SHOULD be on Twitter, and if someone has to jack their name to get their attention, then so be it. I’ve thought about creating an account for a brand I thought should have been on Twitter, and then use the account POSITIVELY to reinforce the benefits of being on Twitter.

    Of course, I never actually did that, but how cool would it be to say “I was the reason companyXXX got onto twitter” or “Look how I positively engaged with the community for companyXXX”

    That’s just my two-cents 🙂

  6. I will pass this advice along to all of my clients, especially to folks who are on the fence about creating their brand profile. I hope we’ll hear more from you on this topic!

  7. “Until we get a single sign on and identity verification process across the whole web”

    Is such a system practical? There are a surprising number of folks legally named “Dale Larson.” Which of us should be entitled to our name across the Internet? I get it in many places, but not in others. Even many trademarked brands, such as Apple Computer and Apple Records would have a conflict.

    It seems more likely that even if single sign-on predominates through OpenID and Facebook Connect, etc., it’ll still be a first-come-first-served world, and lots of companies and individuals will be legitimately forced to choose a second-best name.

  8. Jeremiah,

    Spot on, as usual. I retweeted this for my tweeple, since you deliver value (again!).

    I’ve seen some “black hat” tricks with which I don’t agree; this is a fine example of one…

    Thanks for sharing. Consumer, beware. Verify.


  9. Jeremiah,
    We found our corporate name had been registered on Twitter, and were able to get it released to us… Now we have it, but don’t have the staff (or the policies!) to support doing much more than re-posting something from one of our corporate RSS feeds there. Our first step was to post our company URL and mission description. I’ve been slowly following people who tweet our name on that account (i.e. became members or were certified), but we’re only now beginning to articulate goals and who’s responsible for what. So really, we’re approaching the process backwards after we discovered we’d been brand hijacked (though there wasn’t anything posted to the account that we could tell) and are having to scramble to learn best practices and assign roles.

    Just another perspective.

  10. I have made several attempts to contact Twitter in order to get my company’s brand name back from a non active account using my company’s one word brand name. . .3 followers – I’m one – no updates and no way to contact. Any suggestions to get a response from Twitter?

  11. I also haven’t been able to get my company’s name back from a non-active account on Twitter. Have gotten in touch with Twitter and haven’t received any response. Any suggestions?

  12. This is a great article and something I’ve been discovering as I’ve been researching social media brand presence opportunities. This is a best practice all companies should be aware of and you’ve articulated it beautifully.

    I’m a big fan and plan to follow you now!

  13. It also applies to groups. I’ve just registered @linkedinblogger for the LinkedIn Bloggers group on Yahoo! Groups: would have been @linkedinbloggers but there is a 15 char limit (except for own real names for which there is provision for up to 20 chars).

  14. would love to see something like this for google local business. It’s a royal pita to try to “claim” all of your locations if you have 10000+ listings for your company.

  15. Jeremiah,

    you are so right. I created 3 twitter ids for my employer back in April 2008. I wanted to make sure that when we were ready to use twitter, we would have our name.

    We are still not there yet but we have the Twitter id and when we go live on twitter we will also have that information on our corporate web site on at least two pages.

    One of the problems many companies have is the fact that many companies have the same name. That is why I had to do what I did.

    Thanks the good advice and what should have been obvious to all of us using social media.


  16. Illustrates some interesting points. I think a lot of brands jumping into social media and Twitter perhaps don’t have individuals with experience running the accounts. That’s why I made it a point to spend time in the space as myself (where the risks to my company’s brand are minimal) and could learn some simple rules of engagement. It benefits what I do with our company account in so many ways.

    It came naturally to me to link our company Twitter account to our company blog.

    This brandjacking emphasis is getting a lot more press though. I got an e-mail from someone the other day inquiring whether or not we had profiles on certain accounts, for branding reasons. So it’s a good message to get out there.

    Now the question becomes, if Twitter starts charging companies for using Twitter, how do they define “company use”? We will see a lot more conversation on this topic with that rumor spreading around.

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