Brandjacking is alive and well on Twitter.
Remember this phenomenon in the 90′s? The world’s largest marketers were racing to define an Internet presence, only to discover that squatters had already registered their brand names as domain names and were scuttling their messaging.
It’s happening again, only this time it’s happening on Twitter. Many of the largest brands in the world have discovered that they can’t use their own corporate names because they’ve already been scooped up by people who aren’t affiliated with their companies.
Here are just a few:
- Ikea (0 tweets, 219 followers)
- Walt Disney (0 tweets, 25 followers)
- General Motors (0 tweets, 0 followers)
- Volkswagen (5 tweets, 80 followers)
- Forbes (0 tweets, 56 followers)
- Nike (0 tweets, 1 follower)
- KFC (37 tweets, 237 followers)
- General Electric (0 tweets, 17 followers)
- Walmart (0 tweets, 1305 followers)
- Eli Lilly (0 tweets, 178 followers)
- Sears (0 tweets, 122 followers)
- Mastercard (0 tweets, 85 followers)
- Pringles (0 tweets, 22 followers)
- Comcast (0 followers, 0 tweets)
- Bank of America (0 tweets, 130 followers)
The list goes on — you get the idea.
Especially in these tough economic times, it makes sense that brands would want to engage with their customers on the popular free platform Brands need to be where their customers are, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that they are using Twitter. According to the latest data from ComScore, Twitter had 19.2 million users in October. And since budgets are being cut left and right, embracing Twitter is a wise business decision.
What’s a brand to do?
According to AdvertisingAge:
Twitter’s head of commercial products, Anamitra Banerji, said, “We understand brands’ frustration when it comes to account verification. We are working on ways to make the process easier and faster …. Given the volume of requests we receive, sometimes it might take a little while to close requests but we are trying to improve that too.” The social-media service, he said, is “[working] with business owners extensively to ensure that they own their trademarks/brand names on Twitter as our terms of service doesn’t allow name-squatting or impersonation.”
In August, Co-founder Biz Stone said that Twitter was in the first phase of rolling out commercial accounts, to goal being to lure businesses to pay for premium services. He also talked about creating new application programming interfaces (APIs) to create a “commercial layer” on top of the network. If brands are unhappy with Twitter’s network oversight, why would they choose to pay for premium services? Trust comes before monetization, yes?
The folks at Twitter should make it a priority to straighten all of this out and suspend the squatters’ accounts. How else to gain the respect and confidence of the businesses that figure prominently in Twitter’s quest for profitability?