Category Archives: Twitter

Squatters grab advantage in Twitter ID battle

A possible battle is looming over Twitter squatting.  Cyber squatters have registered the names of companies on Twitter, and the law to prevent that practice is unclear. 

“Legitimate holders of brands can sue for them, and Twitter can just turn them over if asked.  But, because the investment and risk for the squatter are zero, you are going to see the rapid evaporation of available Twitter IDs,” said research analyst Richard Stiennon, as early as last year, in PC magazine.  “My guess is that Twitter squatters have grabbed all of these (names) in the hopes that they will be worth selling in the not too distant future.”  

Trademark owners have the right to sue cyber squatters, but the law, as it applies to disputed Twitter registrations, has not been tested in court.  Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has said that companies can contact Twitter with cases of impersonation and those accounts will be reviewed. 

Fake profiles of celebrities have surfaced on Twitter, so to thwart that, the microblogging service is beta testing an authentication routine with a small group.  However, Twitter has no plans to verify accounts for businesses because of the costs.

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense, as companies register and protect their names and brands against speculators.  The primary Twitter ID naming convention for a business is @companyname which is displayed on the Web as twitter.com/companyname.

The biggest Fortune 500 companies, those that market to consumers, have not fared especially well in protecting their brands in the Twittershphere.  No. 1 Wal-Mart Stores doesn’t own the walmart Twitter ID.  The mega retailer only has walmartdeals.  The 1,000 followers of walmart don’t tweet about Wal-Mart but do post about good and bad hair days.

Twitter indicates that the ExxonMobil ID is owned by Jayme Sanchez, who is or was with the public affairs office of Exxon Mobil Corp., the No. 2 company.  The Twitter site of Sanchez has one follower.

 “Janet,” the owner of the ID ExxonMobilCorp, has several followers, though, and she sure has a lot of positive remarks about the company.  The problem is that hers are not the official comments of Exxon Mobil.  The company recently told the Houston Chronicle that Janet isn’t part of Exxon’s public relations machinery.

No. 3 Chevron Corp. has no alternative but to use an ID other than its name Chevron.  That ID is owned by a tweeter with “protected” tweets and no followers or postings.  The company uses Chevron_JustinH for its official Twitter site.  Not very inspired or catchy is it?

 Canadian Marketing Association blogger Bill Sweetman  predicts that over the next few years, millions of dollars will be spent by companies buying, selling and fighting over Twitter IDs.  Attorneys want a brawl, I’m sure. 

They’d better hope that Twitter becomes a mainstream medium for a wider range of companies willing to vigorously defend their IDs.  So far, tweeting has worked for early adopters Jet Blue Airways, Dell Inc., Starbucks Coffee Co. and assorted celebrities, politicians and news media.

If the early and late majorities and laggards adopt Twitter, then let’s get ready to rumble.

Contributed by Mike Wysatta, business development manager at Ryder Scott.

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PR Gone Bad: How NOT to Deal with Twitter

There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. They must have coined this one in the olden days, before Twitter.  Because these days there is such a thing as bad publicity, and a Chicago company named Horizon Realty is getting it in spades.

One of Horizon’s former tenants, Amanda Bonnen, allegedly posted a not-so-favorable Tweet about her Chicago apartment, and the 22 people who followed her on Twitter saw it. That was grounds enough for a $50,000 libel lawsuit, according to Horizon Realty.

In fact, one of the company’s owners, Jeffrey Michael, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “We’re a ‘sue first, ask questions later’ kind of organization.”

As you can imagine, this quote has gone viral. The lawsuit and the response are all over the Twittersphere, with the Twitterati daring Horizon to sue them as well. Their 140 characters include the hash tag “#SueMeHorizonRealty.”

I’m assuming that being a company with a lot of properties to rent, Horizon Realty probably spends a fair amount of money on advertising to potential tenants. You know: young up-and-comers who probably use twitter. I would guess that its advertising budget is far more than $50,000. So how much money will the company have to spend now to erase “SueMeHorizonRealty”?

On top of that, the little tweet that only 22 people originally saw is now “a shot heard ’round the world.” Bonnen allegedly wrote, “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.” So now add moldy to their brand perception.

Chalk this up as a lesson in Social Media 101: what NOT to do.

Contributed by Christi Dunn, Chair, PRSA Houston Web Committee

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Writing for Twitter and Facebook

There’s a great line in a USA Today article (“What Would Shakespeare Tweet?”) on the art of writing a status update, whether you’re on Facebook or Twitter: “… Next year, only the best tweeters will survive.”

Not only did this set off tunes in my head (remember Gloria Gaynor’s hit song “I will survive”?), but the article also made me pause and consider whether my own personal tweets are interesting or read more like a personal diary. Am I communicating well, no matter the audience, when I use these tools?

There are no clear rules yet on the use of these tools. Many people use twitter for information that is more work- or professional development-related, whereas Facebook largely tends to targeted to friends and family. Are we setting the right tone with this approach?

There is a definite art to tweeting and posting status updates. However, some general rules (and common sense) apply just as they would to more traditional communication methods:

First, don’t bad mouth your boss, a client, a project, your brother, your boyfriend/girlfriend – it’s just bad form and will always come back to bite you.

Second, remember that these are communication tools that can disseminate information very quickly to an unknown number of people (think of all the people in your network… and the number of people in each of their networks, etc.). There’s a line in When Harry Met Sally, when “Sally” (Meg Ryan) and “Harry” (Billy Crystal) are talking outside the diner (yes, THAT diner with THAT scene), and Sally says “You can’t take it back – it’s already out there.” Do you get it? The same theory holds true with social media – once it’s out there, it’s out there… you can’t take it back.

Third, if you’re going to provide information that is intended to be useful or thought provoking, provide more than a and headline and a link. Tell me (within the 140 character limit of Twitter) why I should care – why is that tidbit of information valuable to me?

I’m sure I’m missing some key rules, but these are the ones that came to mind as I read this article. I’d love to hear from you about other rules, pet peeves related to social media, and more.

Contributed by Terri Larson, 2009 President – PRSA Houston

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