Have you taken the basic steps to prevent people from hijacking your company’s brand? Or have you left the door open to it happening right now?
I’ve been thinking a lot about brandjacking fortunately. Fortunately, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of prevention rather than having to fix it.
Brandjacking is a broad term, the most common connotation of which refers to cybersquatting, which Business Week defines as:
“…the unauthorized use of a trademarked name or phrase in a Web domain pointing to a Web site that isn’t owned by the trademark holder.”
A common manifestation of this in the social media age is third parties claiming your company’s name on any online property. The easiest way to make sure that no-one does this to you: make sure your company claims them itself.
So, if you’re helping your company to take the tiniest baby steps beyond the boundaries of its own website, make sure you recommend it claims its name on these sites (or just do it for them!):
Facebook - with the highest number of active users of any social networking site, Facebook is an obvious target for would-be brandjackers (especially in Canada, where Facebook penetration is upwards of 70% in some cities). Add to that the fact that you can now claim a custom URL for Facebook pages with more than 100 fans, and you have a compelling reason to ensure your company has at least a passive presence there.
MySpace - Facebook may have claimed the top spot and Twitter may be more of a media darling right now, but MySpace still has almost 57 million unique US visitors per month according to Compete, and that number has risen in each of the last four months. Don’t discount it just yet.
YouTube – the Google-owned video sharing monster YouTube may be a long way from turning a profit for its parent, but it’s still by far the most popular site for posting videos online. That includes parodies of companies. Well worth claiming.
FriendFeed – this one isn’t a mainstream service, but some of the bigger names in social media are predicting great things for it. I’m not convinced, but that’s no reason not to cover your bases.
WordPress – your domain name portfolio should cover the obvious choices for domains similar to your brand. You should consider adding WordPress profiles to that set. Don’t let someone claim [company name].wordpress.com because you forgot to.
Google – Claiming your company name on Google doesn’t just safeguard your company’s identity on Google’s services; it also provides a useful place to aggregate the bacn email that you will receive from your social media profiles.
Yahoo - No longer the Internet powerhouse it once was, Yahoo still draws enough traffic to make claiming your company name there well worth your while.
Flickr – Facebook may have the world’s most popular photo sharing application, but Flickr is still a big gun, with nearly 22 million unique US visitors in May 2008. Now that you have your Yahoo account, use it to claim your Flickr identity.
This is just a starter list, not a comprehensive set. What other sites would you add?