Modern Day Cyber Squatting – Is Your Brand Protected?

Brand Presence in Social Media

According to Hitwise, social media in Australia is among the top online categories – second only to “search engines”. Social media is so popular that in the coming year to 2 years it is believed it will surpass search – making it the most popular category of sites visited by Australians.

But our love of social media has left many brands exposed to what is now the modern day version of cyber-squatting – which I term social-squatting but is also known as brand-jacking.

Risks associated with failing to secure your brand in the online space

Brandjacking social mediaWhilst many of the major social networking sites forbid brand-jacking, policing the trading of such accounts is at best difficult – and it is an issue which that social networks themselves will face increasingly over the coming years. Given the sheer volume of complaints that will arise, I believe many platforms will adopt a similar model to that of Google and remove themselves from any responsibility to intervene leaving organisations to settle disputes amongst themselves.

This however is not the only threat, brands that are not trademarked could see themselves face high costs to acquire their presence from a brand-jacker.

Further still apart from costs related to acquiring your brand, social-jacking can also damage a brand. With consumers now comfortable with expressing themselves in the social space – brand-jackers are acquiring brands not only for financial gain but with the intention of distributing bad PR.

Has your organisation secured your brand in the social space?

Whilst many Australian organisations are sitting on the sidelines, still undecided about whether to enter the social media space, organisations need to at least consider securing their brand on social platforms or face the risks associated with a lack of action.
I trawled Twitter for some of the biggest names in the Australian finance industry and was surprised to see the lack of thought and in some cases action to secure their Twitter brand online. Of all of the major competitors, Westpac is the stand out. It is obvious that they have given the most thought to their Twitter presence registering the following Twitter accounts– www.twitter.com/westpac, www.twitter.com/westpac_com_au,www.twitter.com/westpac_help, www.twitter.com/westpacbank.

Look further afield to the retail sector and it is a similar story with some of the large players securing their place in the social space whilst others have yet to even consider it.

What to do?

Facebook and Twitter SearchWith over 1.5 million Australians on Twitter and 8 million Australians on Facebook, Australian organisations need to make the first step and secure their brand before it’s too late. To start, brainstorm the key ways users search for your brand to ensure you secure the key 2 or 3 usernames that most accurately reflect your brand. The next step is to review if the profile names have been secured or are available to be registered. To make the review process easier, consider utilising http://www.usernamecheck.com/ and http://knowem.com/. These platforms search across up to 120 social sites at once providing a snapshot of if the profile name is available. You can even automate the registration process.

For more information about the top tips about securing your online profile –refer to
http://www.watchingwebsites.com/archives/registering-your-username-on-many-social-media-sites-pros-and-cons

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