What Do You Do About Unofficial Social Media Channels?
Posted by Talknowledgy
When you see a social media channel, do you ever wonder whether it’s legitimate or not? Sure, some sites offer ‘verified’ status, but that’s only for the really famous users. What about your local mom ‘n’ pop store? What if the channel is using the logo, has the right website listed in the bio, and lists the name of the business’ manager or some other representative from the company? If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…
Well, it may not be a duck. Sometimes it’s an imposter, or a cyber squatter. Sometimes it’s a mock account. And sometimes it’s run by a staff member but is still ‘unofficial’ because it was set up by a staffer without the knowledge or approval of those who would normally set that type of thing up (either a marketing department or a manager, depending on the size of the business).
Why does this matter? Well, from a business perspective it’s important to know who is saying things about you online, what they’re saying, why they’re saying it, how they’re saying it, and where they’re saying it. After that, you need to figure out how to get control back of your brand. I think it’s fair to say no business wants their brand in the hands of third parties without their approval, whatever their intention. There are a number of ways to get control back:
Beat them on content: If you’re dealing with an imposter, make your own account and make it clear which account is real by posting compelling content. Link to it on your website and in other mediums as well.
Report the imposter: Most social networks don’t tolerate imposters! Contact the support team.
Have the account specified as unofficial in the bio or other description, or have it transferred over to you if the moderator is willing to accommodate you: A last resort. The account holder may be cyber squatting so expect a request for money if that’s the case.
If the account is being run by someone internally without your consent, that’s where you run into a sticky situation. They may be perfectly accommodating and give you joint access or just hand over control. They may not, and they may try to argue it is an ‘unofficial’ account which is outside the company. Worst of all, if you work in a large organization this person may not wish to identify themselves (making it even harder to prove they are in fact a staff member…yes, this happens believe it or not). So what do you do? Aside from the above steps…
Have a clear strategy in place for social media, and outline the penalties for working outside the strategy: For smaller organizations, this doesn’t need to be a long document, but it should clearly outline who can set up profiles and who to discuss it with beforehand. It should also specify what your company’s policy is on ‘unofficial’ channels and accounts – is there such a thing in your organization? What does one look like? That’s for you to decide! My humble opinion: if it has the logo, and it’s being operated by someone identifying themselves as staff, and it has accurate, relevant info for the business or organization being referenced, then it could be mistaken for official.
Set up accounts on sites as soon as they ‘start to get big’ so your company’s space is already claimed: This does require you to be proactive in seeking out new networks however, and you can still run into imposters.
Contribute to this unofficial channel: If all else fails, post on the Facebook page, tweet at the Twitter account, pin onto their boards, submit links to their subreddit…do whatever you have to do to either steal their audience or (put in a more polite way) benefit from the group that has been curated for you.
Have you run into problems with unofficial accounts or imposters? What’s your solution? Leave a comment below!
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Posted on 09/17/2012, in Monday Blog, Opinion, Phil Gaudreau, Talknowledgy News and tagged Facebook, Google, How To, Internet, Ottawa, Phil Gaudreau, Pinterest, Reddit, Social Media, Social Media for Business, Talknowledgy, Technology, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.