A campaign can give your product & service exposure, but it can’t make your business a success, only your customers can do that. If your campaign goes viral, great, but if your business or offerings aren’t as well, then the campaign was probably pointless. You want people talking about how good your product is, not how good your viral campaign was.
I saw this video on Phil’s Unionversity website yesterday and was blown away by this guys voice, the voice just doesn’t go with what you’re seeing, he’s amazing! Drugs and alcohol have taken their toll on his life and he’s fallen on hard times, but the social web has shown it’s a force for good again, as within a day or so of this video being posted on YouTube, it’s received almost 10million views and has lead to radio stations fighting over him, we’ll undoubtedly see or hear more from Ted Williams in the near future. The second video is an interview with him on the Early Show, warning, it will choke you up, but do watch it.
No matter what you’re trying to market or sell, people buy into stories. If you want your idea to spread make it easy for others to spread it, a story or something they can be passionate about is the best way… so make it memorable, better yet, make it unforgettable.
As I’ve re-quoted before “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital“ Aaron Levenstein
This video makes compelling reading/watching, but read between the lines, there’s more to this than meets the eye, major changes are unfolding in the social media environment, information/data/ID aggregation is becoming the new hot potato, the shift is about linking you to the stuff you want to know in a transparent & convenient way.
For more info & a list of quotes & stats go to the socialnomics blog
Also note Marta doesn’t use the that annoying Social Media Expert moniker, she calls herself a Bonafide Marketing Genius, now that’s a great job title! (as long as you live up to it of course, although reading her blog, it looks like she does)
I dislike job titles (especially inflated ones), I never use one myself, your actions define what you do for a living, not your business card.
If you excel at your work, you won’t require a job title, you probably won’t need business cards either, as everyone will already know what you do & who you are, as you’ll be the person they’re talking about & respect, the person they go to when they need things done really well.
There are times you can put an inflated job title to good use, when you want something to talk about or set yourself apart from the rest of your field, Organic Fusion Engineer is a fun job title I saw on a carpenters business card, I used him because he was recommended, and I’ll always remember the work he did, but I’ll never forget his job title!
here’s a great quote, unfortunately I don’t know who said it… “I wish to do something Great & Wonderful, but I must first start by doing the small things like they are great & wonderful”
As I’ve posted previously, don’t become indifferent to your customers or clients, you could lose them not only because you did something wrong, but because you didn’t do enough.
Size really does matter, something insignificant to you, may be all important or a stumbling block for your customer.
These things can be difficult to spot, no matter how hard you look, you won’t find them all, plus you’ll never be perfect, so listen to what your audience is telling you, and if they’re not telling you anything, ask them! don’t fool yourself by thinking their silence is because you’ve got everything right, it’s probably because they’re already looking somewhere else.
And make sure you’re asking the right questions, don’t ask, “Is everything OK?” ask “What is wrong & what could we improve?”, don’t ask “Why would you choose us over a competitor?” ask “Why would you choose a competitor over us?”
So, what’s the f’in diffference? Is it the little things? the small stuff? yes… but it’s the small stuff you don’t see and has to be pointed out to you, like the extra “f” in the word difference, that’s the f in difference, don’t expect to find them all on your own.
Google said they’d have something interesting to demo at the Google IO Dev Conference, oh boy they weren’t kidding… Hello to Google Waves!
The Video below is 1.5hrs long, but it’s worth a look, as this will change everything. I’ve been harping on for ages about data aggregation & building open platforms without walls, with API’s for developers & third parties to leverage & integrate with (just like our plans for no paper & ID Gator), well Google have just stepped up to the plate with all their might and done just that… it all works in standard HTML5 & it’s all Open Source Code!!!!
Email, wiki’s, instant messaging, realtime inline document collaboration & creation, blogs, image & rich media sharing, polling, mobile and other stuff I’ve forgotten to mention can all be handled & integrated by Waves.
The way you use Twitter, Facebook, MSN, Skype, Blogs etc is about to change forever, no more proprietary software, no having to log into a specific system to access & update your data, connect & interact with colleagues etc Waves passes all that and allows you to do it from whatever system you want.
Want to connect with everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL, Google, MSN etc without logging into Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL, Google, MSN etc, with Waves you’ll be able to do that.
Why is this so powerful & something that the likes of Facebook should be concerned about? Well you’ll be able to get all the interation of Facebook & connect to all your friends, without ever logging directly into Facebook again! So you never look at their main revenue stream, their adverts! I was writing a blog a few days ago (didn’t get round to fininshing it), where I was saying that Facebook’s biggest threat isn’t from someone like Myspace, Twitter or Google… it will be from the parasites, the small third parties that feed off & leverage it’s systems, these guys can easily create revenue streams that Facebook can’t (or is missing), Google has just made that job easier with Google Waves.
So why would Facebook (or those like Facebook) integrate Waves? Simply put, they will have no choice, the users will want it (see an old post for what I mean)… already Facebook has opened it’s walled garden with Facebook Connect, if Waves could take hold & it’s protocol become the de facto way to collaborate, they’d have no choice but to open up & integrate it… it will be interesting to see if Google actually push this, or like so many of their ideas, invest loads of time in developing the initial idea, then let it stagnate and die… which is a great shame, as it’s only the likes of a giant like Google that could take on the likes of Facebook… which is something they should be bear in mind in reverse, as Facebook continues to amass it’s user base, it will become a force to be reckoned with in Google’s market space, “Search”, for as Amazon has proven, it’s personal recommendations that lead us in purchasing decisions, if Facebook taps into our friends recommendations and “likes”, then we’ll start our searching in Facebook, not Google. A possible future with a Facebook and Bing alliance could cause Google reasons to be concerned.
We all use social networks in different ways, some for work, some for play, some for play while at work!? No matter how you use them, you’re going to meet someone that uses the same network differently. The two networks getting most press coverage currently are Twitter & Facebook, both of which have very different ways of connecting you to others on their networks, both having advantages & disadvantages, so you need to use them in very different ways.
Facebook’s greatest advantage is only letting those you know hear what you’re saying, while Twitter’s greatest advantage is allowing anyone to eavesdrop your conversation, so Facebook is connecting you with people you already know, Twitter is connecting you with people you want to know.
One way of looking at it is, Twitter is a night club, Facebook is a house party, so be careful who you let in
What if Facebook was real?
Where did I hear about this first, on twitter of course! thanks to Matt Ryan
In this piece in Marketing Magazine, it would appear Twitter is working out ways to monetize it’s service.
Co-founder Biz Stone told Marketing: ‘We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts.’
I appreciate Twitter needs a revenue stream, adverts certainly wouldn’t work, they’d drive people away, so charging corporations is a good approach, if they’re using twitter for commercial gain, why shouldn’t Twitter benefit? But how do you distinguish between an individual or a company or brand. Celebrities are brands, but they’re individuals, CEO’s may be the voice for a corporate, but they too are individuals! What about non-profits or high profile bloggers etc, simply setting a threshold on follower numbers wouldn’t help either.
For Twitter to make this work simply, they should add an opt in premium account version that sits within Twitter, then anyone can have the premium version if they want, be it corporate, celeb or individual. Add extra features for the premium version, such as filtering, allowing you to use key words to filter incoming tweets, or ways to group your followers or those you’re following, or ways to delve into the demographics of your followers, their locations, their amount of activity, their gender etc. All useful stuff for a corporate’s marketing department and something they’d happily pay for!
Asking the right questions, is more important than having all the answers.
Knowing how to to get higher rankings in a Google search isn’t as important as asking, will it make any difference? It’s likely your time & effort would be better invested in creating effective ways to interact with your current customers, than spending your time looking for adhoc new ones via Google. If you build a rapport & trust with customers your already have, they will recommend you and talk about your products & services to their peers, which is far more powerful & effective than a high ranking in Google, will ever be.
Having answers is great, just make sure they’re answering the right questions.
While taking a break from my hectic morning schedule of making myself a cup of tea & finding some clean socks to wear I thought I’d check in and see what little bread crumbs my fellow Twits had left for me. Sure enough there were plenty, but one from Jaculynn stood out more than most “For big hearts. Please help. http://is.gd/eKbo Please retweet.” so I followed the link.
Glad I did, here’s a quick synopsis, a guy named David Armano, was asking for help, not for himself, but for a friend, a young woman named Daniela & her three children, whom were staying at his house, as she was going through a separation from her abusive husband. He was asking for $5,000, so Daniela could get her own place for her family and didn’t have to worry about a deposit or rent for a little while. David wasn’t asking for big donations, just whatever you could spare during these hard times, any amount would help & if you couldn’t donate directly then at least pass on the message.
Within 4hrs of posting the request on his blog & Twitter, he’d not only reached his target, he’d doubled it!! I think it’s safe to say that he was blown away by this, but what it shows is how much his followers & readers respect him.
So is this amazing success all down to blogs, twitter & social networks? absolutely not… it’s entirely down to David, and his skill in utilising the technologies to gain trust. He’s been writing his blog for 3 years & he’s amassed 8,000 followers on Twitter, but it’s taken him a long time & a lot of effort, but the payback has been worthwhile, as I’m sure 2009 is looking a much better place for Daniela & her family right now.
And this is all because David decided to make a difference and channel the trust he’s built to good use, or as Amie eloquently puts it in her comment to David’s thank you video “Absolutely incredible – not only have you helped a family in need, but you’ve proven again how powerful it is when just one person stands up to say, I will make a difference. You have. Imagine what else is possible”
Here’s a great blog article by Scott Drummond that expands upon what I said above, so get working on your Relationship Bank Balance! (that’s such a great analogy)
Nick Burcher added a post on his blog about Facebook Usage Statistics for 2008 which made me think about something I mentioned a few weeks ago, as I noticed within Facebook’s top 21 only India & Hong Kong appear for the whole of Asia! Where’s China, Japan, Indonesia etc?
Nick’s stats are interesting, but they’re bikini statistics, nice to look at but they’re not revealing everything you may want to see!? So let’s add some population data & look at these figures a little closer, 32.7% of Canadians use Facebook, the largest country population % worldwide, closely followed by Denmark, but look at the other end of spectrum, only 1.3% of Mexicans use it, while 0.1% of Indians!!! Also, you hear all the time about how big Facebook is, and that everyone’s using it? Well actually no, as only 2.1% of the world’s population are on Facebook, so there’s still a pretty big slice of the pie out there for the taking. NB: it’s worth noting that Facebook ranks very low in Asia with other social networks being far more popular (I don’t have the stats to hand but I shall post them in the next day or so).
So why the disparity, is it to do with a technology divide, certainly not, we’re talking the likes of Japan & Korea here, who are light years ahead when it comes to technology uptake. No I think it’s something a bit simpler than that, language. I’ve asked Japanese friends before about Facebook and they’ve told me that it’s translation & implementation of Japanese sucks. I don’t know about India, but I’m sure the same is true for there. But in India there’s another issue, access to Facebook… the number of PC users is dwarfed by the number of Mobile phone users and Facebook’s mobile phone implementation isn’t great, so it’s not being used. So while Facebook’s position in the social network scene may appear dominant in the west, in the east it’s non-existent!
Now here’s another interesting set of statistics courtesy of Twitterlocal which shows how Tokyo dominates the Twitter leader board when it comes to city statistics, with a 25% lead over second place New York! No real surprise, as this is what you probably expect from the technology mecca of the world, but why Twitter & not Facebook? Well it comes back to my point earlier, Twitter’s Kanji implementation is good, but equally important, there’s no issue with ease of use, it works simply via SMS or smart phone. So once Twitter takes hold in India and they work out a way for users to register without needing an email address or access to the web, they’ll be no stopping it! Look and learn Facebook!
If ever you needed evidence that web 2.0 is reversing the balance of power into the hands of the consumer, then check out these videos and the www.comcastmustdie.com website. I’ve posted previously how the tide is changing & how companies need to be in there engaging with their customers and protecting their brands, companies ignoring this strategy do so at their peril.
I was just reading a post “Jaw Droppers of 2008 – What they’d rather you forgot” on The Register where they recap the most embarasing moments from the past 12 months. The bit about an online community I’d never heard of before named Faceparty, and how they dealt out their customer service is priceless and a must read.
Social Network attacks own customers
Customer service has yet to hit Web 2.0, where you have to answer your own technical questions, wading through forums or sending emails to people in “support” who never reply. “Maverick” social networking site Faceparty went a step further, though, by rounding on users who dared to expect it deliver on its promises – in this case, free tools. Faceparty threatened to terminate accounts of “every single twat who moaned about their friggin’ free cool tools”. “Listen this is our HOBBY, not our business,” Faceparty said, helpfully reminding everyone it’s a “free fucking site” and not to expect anything.
Faceparty’s current homepage has a video on it that pretty well sums up their feelings for those that had the audancy to complain. (WARNING: Faceparty’s site & the homepage video are rated 18 & over. It’s a sexually explicit & rather alternative site, so if you’re easily offended or shocked, then please don’t go there!)
It’s 5am and the dawn chorus has started in my back garden, but I don’t mind, as it got me thinking (which is sometimes a bad thing), so I’m wide awake now!
The future for social networks is portability, I want the same freedoms online that I have in the real world, I want to be able to meet my friends where I want, I want to keep in touch with them how I choose, If we decide to meet somewhere else for a change there’s no limitations… but what’s all this to do with the dawn chorus?
Think how most social networks operate, locking in users to a closed network is the wrong approach, it’s akin to locking a bird in a cage, you let the bird out of the cage from time to time to meet other birds, but you only let them fly around within your aviary, the birds can’t get away. So the only way you can keep your birds alive & happy is to keep feeding them, making sure they have a nice place to live, and keeping those doors firmly locked! How do you pay for the up keep on the aviary? well you obviously can’t charge the birds, so you charge people to see the birds, you have sponsors that supply seed, you watch how the birds interact with one another and then profit from your research.
Let’s now think of it in a far more open way… if you put seed on a bird table in your back garden birds will come. After a while you attract more & more, they’re wild birds, they can fly away moment, yet they keep coming back. You don’t need a cage to keep them, as they’ll keep coming back as long as you respect & treat them well and give them what they want.
How do I pay for the seed or make money? the same way as before. With this analogy you could charge people to view your flock of birds, sell photos you’ve taken, you could charge users to feed the birds themselves, you could be sponsored & have grain supplied by a third party, thus promoting their product to your paying visitors, you could give presentations & talks or publish books about your experiences of running the bird sanctuaries, the list goes on.
Now imagine your neighbour does the same, he puts out a bird table, covers it with seed and attracts more birds, of course some of your birds will fly over to his table, but then some of his birds will fly over to yours, there’s no barriers, the birds can do what they want, they can fly back & forth. Then another neighbour does the same and attracts even more birds… until eventually everyone on your street has bird tables that are attracting birds from far & wide to your neighbourhood.
With this model the birds obviously benefit the most (which is great & exactly as it should be, because online, you’re the bird), the neighbourhood benefits as they get to see and study all the birds, not just the ones locked up in their cages. The sponsors benefit as they get to see which of their types of seeds are preferred & consumed the most. I could go on, but I think you’re getting the point.
If the only way you can pay for the upkeep of your caged birds & aviary is through visitors & sponsors donating seed, what happens when the sponsor stops supplying you, because they’ve chosen to supply your neighbours instead, because they have a lot more birds than you. Simple, if you can’t feed your birds, they die in their cages, unless you open the doors and let them out, they may have survived, but you’ve still lost.
You don’t want caged birds, so get rid of the cages, you want wild birds that are free to come & go as they please, if you give them what they want they’re come, and you’ll end up with a far greater result.
As with all businesses, be generous with you offerings & services, be customer focused, treat your customers with respect, give them what they want, because like a free bird they can fly off anytime they want and you’ll probably never see them again.
I recently found my notes from a presentation I gave 13 years ago, unfortunately I no longer have the presentation (not that I would have software that could open it now even if I could find it). You need to remember that at the time a 56k modem was considered warpdrive access to that little known thingy-me-jig called the internet. Upon seeing the presentation, everyone I knew thought I was nuts, as the basis of the presentation was simple “All music will be available online.” Now that was bad enough, but I also went on to say, “it will be free, or so cheap that it might as well be” as the distributors and artist will make their money in other ways, concerts, t-shirts sales, merchandise etc (ie giving the audience what they want… mmmmmm sounds like tribe building to me, but that’s another discussion!)
OK, look at the music industry in the past 10 years then think about what I said back then, just how crazy was I? although I did say All music not just some of it (that’s still to come, and it will), but prices are hitting rock bottom, the labels tried DRM, it didn’t work (DRM free did), they tried to keep prices high, that didn’t work either, they were too slow to move with the tide. You only have to look at the likes of Jamendo to see my 13 year old predictions coming to fruition, entirely free, good quality, legal music downloads, if you like the music enough you can pay money directly to the artist through the site, but it’s your choice entirely.
The movie industry is doing the same, they think they’re safe due to movie file sizes, but they’re not, data speeds are going up, compression improving, portable players increasing… DVD’s have a 2-3 year life expectancy, HD-DVD & Blu-Ray was undoubtedly the last physical format war, everything will be online & instantly available very very soon!
As they say, “Shift Happens”, at the turn of the century the petroleum motor car replaced the standard mode of transport at the time, the horse & cart, did this end with the demise of the horse, far from it, it gave rise to horses having an improved quality of life, being used for sport & leisure activities only, rather than be flogged everyday to pull a cart. In fact the motor car gave everyone a better quality of life, if the motor car hadn’t been introduced to London it would have ground to a halt, as it was knee deep in horse manure and the stench unbearable. Now it’s the turn of the petrol based motor car, to be replaced by electric or more likely hydrogen based cars completely within the next decade, will this be the demise of the petrol car, not entirely, as enthusiasts will be able to use their treasured “classic” petrol based cars purely for leisure guilt free, in the knowledge that they’ll be using their hydrogen based car for the weekly commute to work.
The newspaper & journal industry is on it’s last legs, they appear to have forgotten what they’re really about, which is delivering “News” not paper, paper is merely the delivery mechanism, but it’s days are numbered, newspapers & books are a dying breed, being referred to as the “souvenir dead tree format”, there will be those that cling on to the printed page, just like those that still listen to vinyl (but they’re a tiny number, even iTunes alone, downloads more songs now than CD sales worldwide!). I know people argue that they like the tactile feel of real books & have a bond with them that they could never have with an electronic version, and I have to agree with them to a degree, but you have to face up to the tide of change. Plus this is only true when it comes to story books or novels, when it comes to manuals, reference books, cooks books, self help etc who has this same bond? Let’s face it, no one… are you really telling me you’re going to get attached to “Dreamweaver For Dummies”, no you’re not, plus you’d probably prefer an electronic version anyway, one that you can bookmark & search through instantly, plus contains electronic versions of code & examples.
So there’s a mindset shift that needs to happen with those that like to read paper now, but the next generation won’t have the same limitations, they’ll simply want whatever is most convenient and most up to date, no paper is the future. Another limiting factor currently is the hardware, reading on a computer screen or an iPhone isn’t great, eReaders that use e-Ink like the Kindle are so like reading paper, you hardly notice you’re not, plus they have numerous advantages. Some argue that because paper books are real tangible objects, they’re more permanent than their electronic counterparts, but actually the reverse is true, paper rots, it gets dirty, you can tear it etc. Corrupt an electronic file? simply re-load a new file and it’s as good as new, in fact it’s probably been updated with new content. I’m not dead set against paper, it has it’s place, but it’s time for the publishing houses worldwide to wake up, accept the sea of change, and prepare for it, otherwise they better be ready to move over when the flood happens & the new ePublishing houses appear on the scene giving the audience what they want (now where have I heard that before?)
So will eBooks, replace paper books? absolutely… but at the end of the day, does it really matter which prevails, as long as more people are reading & writing, who cares how it’s delivered, we’ll all be winners!
I got your press release, I wouldn’t change a single word… and that single word is on page 5!
Ouch! but in today’s fast paced attention grabbing media frenzy, you really have to get to the point in seconds or your reader is gone, there’s too many choices, yet too little time. Sticking your press release on your website hoping your audience will drop by & pick it up, is a waste of your time, as they won’t be dropping by, they’ll be reading what someone else has sent them directly. Plus writing a book every time is wasting their time, if they actually bother to read it that is!
Brevity is the way ahead, if the gist of your release doesn’t fit within the header of an RSS feed, you’ll get skipped over. Twitter limits you to 140 characters, but if that’s where your audience is then that’s what they want. The mobile platform is happening right now, if you’re not on it, you’re not being read.
So sending out press releases the old way isn’t cutting it anymore, you have to be pro-active to survive, you need to be opening up dialogue, and when someone does contact you, you need to respond to them directly. You need to focus on producing something they’ll want to discuss with others, and build a platform so they can!
Blogs are great, everyone should have one, certainly every company, but most of all they hsould be using it… but blogs have a serious drawback, they’re reactive, not proactive, your user has to come to you for updates. Which unless you have something worthwhile reading, they won’t bother doing. But just in case you do say something worth listening to from time to time, they link to you via RSS, just in case. And that my friends is the really important part to make note of. Blogs in general are too wordy, internet users are scanners, they don’t have time to read all the blogs out there, let alone read your long winded blog, so many choices, so little time, there’s a lot of noise to sift through.
So in steps twitter, messages that are only 140 characters in length total. May seem pointless at first, but think about what I’ve just outlined above, the messages are short, to the point and it’s proactive, your visitors link to you, they receive every tweet you send out. If all you’re doing is saying, “making my self a nice cup of coffee” or “off to the gym to pump those weights” then people will eventually stop following you around, you’re just adding to the noise & they already have a lot of that in their busy lives. Say something worth listening to and they’re continue to follow, keep it short and they’re actually read it!
In today’s 24/7 wired world of social networks, web 2.0 & mobile platforms, if you’re business is not networking then you’re not working!
Do you have a group or page on a social network such as Facebook?
Do you have a Twitter account?
Do you have a Blog?
Do you have a YouTube Channel?
Do you have an account on Get Satisfaction?
Do you run a Forum?
Do you have a mobile strategy?
Answer no to any or all of the above, then ask yourself why not? If you say it’s because you can’t afford the time or the resources, then find the time & the resources, as the cost to your business of not utilising these platforms will outweight your investment of time.
Answer yes to any of the above, great stuff… answer yes to all of them, that’s amazing! But remember simply registering in these places won’t mean anything if you’re not participating & engaging your audience on a one to one basis, plus it’s not just about getting large numbers. Having 5,000 people in your Facebook group won’t mean a thing if you’re not having direct two way communication with them.
It’s easier now more than ever for you to open dialogue & interface with your audience directly, but it’s also easier than ever for your audience to talk about you to others, you need to ensure what they’re saying showers you in a positive light. If you ignore the conversations going on, soon you won’t be in them anymore, as your audience will be talking about, and to, your competitors, and it will be very difficult to get them back!
A good friend of mine, Matt Francis, was discussing an idea he had to create an online independent music channel, but was looking for an easy way to create a forum platform. I suggested he use ning. Within a couple of days, Matt had jumped head first into ning and has created an amazing music website. To see what I mean check out www.beatcast.tv
In my very first blog entry I asked the question where do you get your inspiration?, then a similar question in Naked Inspiration, but now there’s an inspired idea, that gives an easy way for you to show your thought processes and give thanks to those that have inspired you along the way.
When writing a blog you can easily add a hyper link to your post, but how about a simple way to differentiate between a “forward” link to more info or further reading etc and a “backward” link to those that inspired your post.
Well now you can, devised by Bernd CoCreatr (AKA Purple Pointr), the concept is simple (as are most great ideas), to add a backward inspiration link you add an (i)
(c) = copyright, (cc) = creative commons, (i) = inspired by
For more info in Bernd’s own words click the (i)
As an example:
This blog post inspired (i) by Bernd Cocreatr
Plus there is a graphic that can be used instead of the (i)
Well, basically it depends how much you want to spend… simply put you pay for marketing, while publicity is free! well free as far as you don’t give anyone any money, but of course it doesn’t just happen on it’s own, you’ve got to invest the time & effort, but it’s probably more fruitful than blanket marketing & advertising.
Invest your time building a dialogue with your audience, leverage social media sites & the web 2.0 revolution, find out what it is they want and give it to them. Don’t waste you time developing products then spend the rest of your time looking for an audience, invest your time in building your audience base, build a rapport with them, then develop products and services they want, stuff they will wax lyrical about to everyone else, thus in turn increasing your market share and exposure.
These early adopters become your publicity channel, continue creating products they want and they will continue spreading the message, focus on them, not the wider market, as they’re do your marketing for you, for free!
The bigger they are, the harder they fall… plus they’re likely to move a lot slower too
Large name brands face a dilemma, the bigger they become the harder it is to protect their brands, gone is the time when they simply bought every URL iteration of their name to protect themselves online. With the advent of Web 2.0 & social networking, intrinsically built around two way communication, a whole new range of problems has opened up for the “brand police”, plus, with the speed of their development, they’re having a hard time keeping up… so how do they protect their brands?
ExxonMobil had a rude awaking recently when a new profile named Janet identified herself as ExxonMobilCorp on Twitter. Janet proceeded to discuss the corporate affairs of ExxonMobil and had a following of over 300 users. Often Brand-Jacking is carried out by someone with monetary gain in mind or with a grudge against the brand they’re jacking. Thankfully for ExxonMobil, Janet appeared to be a loyal employee, trying to represent them as best she could, or was she? Her identity & goal is still unknown at present, if she was an employee trying her best, then ExxonMobil were lucky, but if she were someone that was subtly giving misinformation about ExxonMobil and it’s policies then the Brand-Jacking may have had a far more damaging effect had it gone unnoticed.
Another case to hit the headlines recently was when artist Nadia Piesner created an image of a starving child holding a small dog in one hand with an Louis Vuitton bag hung over the other. This was her take on how the media glorifies the likes of Paris Hilton with massive coverage & air time, while the starving of Darfur hardly get a mention. LV were not best pleased, they immediately sent a Cease & Desist letter to the artist, to which she returned a letter stating, that this would be a violation of her right to free speech & her artwork was not a direct attack on LV or infringed their identity, to which LV returned a lawsuit claiming $20,000 a day damages. Whether LV’s course of action was correct or not is up for debate, but this case highlights the seriousness of brand-jacking and it’s impact on the business.
Another form of Brand-Jacking is linked with “phishing”, were the user is duped into thinking the message or communication is official. Spam is an obvious method, but more & more social networks are becoming targets. As explained in this Wired posting, Facebook users were duped into entering their details into a fake website. OK you think, so they can see my photos and my friends photos, no biggie, but as the post highlights, many users use the same log in & passwords for social networking sites as they do to access their bank accounts. Those that use different log in details shouldn’t be complacent though, as once the hackers compromise the facebook account, they can install Trojan Horses that track key strokes and thus bank & credit card details.
So Brand-Jacking doesn’t just steal the identity of the company & it’s brand, it can steal our identities too.
UPDATE: 9 Dec 2008
A new phishing virus named Koobface has been playing havoc on Facebook, more details here.
For further information:
Save Darfur Campaign