A stark warning has been issued to UK PROs to reserve these names, after news broke in the US last weekend that someone had set up a fake account for Exxon Mobil.
‘Janet’ was posting policy updates on issues such as global warming, Exxon’s CSR work and answering questions from Twitter followers. Worse still, she had been using the account for several days before bloggers and the US media brought it to Exxon’s attention.
‘Owning your Twitter feed…is critical to protect your brand reputation’, said Cow PR director Dirk Singer. ‘Any brand that hasn’t already done so, needs to do so now’, he warned.
According to Cow PR’s research 69 Twitter names that related to the FTSE100 are unregistered. A further 17 have been claimed but are inactive. Out of the remaining ten, a few have been registered by other organisations or members of the public. These include Sainsbury’s, which has been taken over by someone who lists their location as ‘in your fridge’. The last and only post was nine months ago, which said: ‘leaving bay leaves in ready meals specifically to annoy @ KISA’.
Other brand names including Dominos Pizza, Dulux Paints and Littlewoods are also on sale for £20 on a website.
Only four FTSE 100 companies currently have active feeds – Thomson Reuters, British Airways, Pearson and Rio Tinto.
‘Whether your brand decides to be there or not, the growth of social media means people will be talking about it’, said Singer. ‘At the most basic level, you need to make sure that micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter are part of your monitoring efforts. After all, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down like Exxon Mobil, who only found out about ‘Janet’ when contacted for comment.’
Cow PR is recommending PROs do an audit of other social media channels to claim brand IDs including YouTube, Flickr and Friendfeed.
Twitter allows you to broadcast short 140 character messages to anyone who chooses to follow you on their mobile phones or PC. Relatively few brands currently use Twitter to communicate with audiences, although the list is growing.