Everyone has heard about domain squatters, the mysterious individuals or companies that buy up website names in hopes of flipping them for a profit. Despite a federal law prohibiting “cybersquatting,” it still happens.
Squatters exist on social media, too, registering for accounts with the names of celebrities, businesses, organizations, attractions and other known entities.
Cyber-squatters aren’t just a pain. They can impact your brand recognition and reputation, and ultimately your business. When users are searching for their favorite restaurant, clothing store or influencer, you want to make it easy for them to find.
That’s not always possible if your URL and social media handle don’t match your business’ name. If a computer-user finds the wrong business, it can drive your e-commerce elsewhere. Following the wrong company on social media can create a different perception of your brand, one you may not appreciate.
That’s why it’s so important to select a website domain and social media handles that are easily remembered and recognizable. Oftentimes, that’s the official, registered name of your business or organization, and doing so also helps with search engine optimization, a digital process that helps more computer-users find your content.
Not every case of mistaken identity on social media is malicious. Take Chanel, for example. The internationally acclaimed fashion brand doesn’t have @chanel as its Instagram handle, instead using @chanelofficial. Why not @chanel? Canadian Chanel Bonin opened an Instagram account in 2011 using her first name, thus staking a legitimate claim to the handle. Pandora, the music streaming service, uses @pandora on Instagram, while the jewelry manufacturer Pandora uses @theofficialpandora. You’ll see social media handles containing “thereal” or “official” because a recognized brand didn’t act quickly enough to secure its preferred handle.
When establishing a new business or organization, it’s important to check the availability of a URL and social media handle early in the process, perhaps before a name is even selected. If you’re an existing business that’s looking to create a website or social media page, and your desired name is already taken, you’ve got a tough road ahead. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have a formal process in place to claim a handle that’s already in use, but it’s not easy. Priority Marketing recently spent more than a year completing online forms, sending emails and holding conference calls with a social media provider before a client’s request was granted, and that was for a very well-known national brand.
One way to elevate a business’ social media pages is to pursue a verification badge, the highly coveted checkmark that means your page is certified as authentic – the real deal. Social media sites only grant verification to a select group of well-known public figures, celebrities and top brands. TechCrunch once referred to this checkmark as “the stuff of legend.” Being verified allows social media users to quickly recognize a post or page as authentic, demonstrating powerful credibility.
What does your social media handle say about your brand? Call Priority Marketing at 239-267-2638 to speak with one of our social media experts.