Such is the shadowy nature of the web that, when a colleague told me that he’d found Britney Spears on Twitter-therealbritney-I didn’t believe that it was actually her.
A look through therealbritney’s profile reveals it likely is-personal details, links to her official site and Britney-branded wallpaper attest to its authenticity-but my immediate reaction is testimony to the number of fake profiles existing out on social networks.
If any of your clients are still reluctant to start using social media, tell them that they’re not only missing out on a chance to connect with their stakeholders, they’re opening the door for someone else to do it for them-and possibly with unsavoury results.
Organizations, especially high-profile ones, are prone to being “brandjacked” on the web-profiles created with the organization’s name by a source outside of it-usually for the purpose of discrediting the org in question.
Twitter is especially prone to to this style of identity theft. Without the need for a detailed profile, photos to post or groups to join, it’s much easier to create a false identity there than on other social networks. U.S. oil giant Exxon Valdez was famously brandjacked on Twitter earlier this year.
So what’s an organization to do, especially in the case of Twitter? As seen with my reaction to Britney’s Twittering, even a real profile can be met with skepticism.
The same rules apply for most PR campaigns. Establish a presence on social networks, reveal necessary (but not necessarily confidential) information and establish modes for two-way communication. I’ll give credit to Twitter for this:
It will establish you as truly the one and only-even if a host of pretenders are clamouring for attention as well.