If you get brand jacked don’t call the police, invite them in for dinner.

Twitter will be experimenting with a beta preview of what they’re calling Verified Accounts this summer. The experiment will begin with public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other “well known” individuals at risk of impersonation. While this is a positive (albeit small) step to help improve the lack of identity confirmation on the web, marketers shouldn’t wait for the police to show up before taking action.

With Facebook and Twitter adoption continuing to pick up steam, even cautious marketers are starting to take notice. A common recommendation for these lagging marketers is to 1) monitor ongoing conversations to understand what is being said about your brand or industry and 2) register your brand to avoid being brand jacked and shut down existing jackers.

For the prior there are several free tools like, search.twitter.com, blogsearch.google.com and technorati.com, that are easy to use and a good place to start. For the latter I would recommend the martial art of Aikido, whose techniques blend with and leverage oncoming energy instead of trying to stop it.

If you find a brand advocate, give them the tools and access to spread the word and recruit other advocates. Like the ability to post on your corporate blog, access to figures and facts or insider previews to new products and strategies. If you find a brand hater engage them in a public discussion, focus on creating clarity not winning, or ask for their recommendations to improve your products and strategies.

The value of social technologies is the ability to have authentic, and transparent conversations with customers and prospects, whether they are positive or negative. If someone is passionate enough about you and your brand to start the dialogue then 1) they are probably not the only ones and 2) the conversation will happen with or without you… so you better invite them in.


Transparency is not the solution.

A new BusinessWeek article Blogola: The FTC Takes On Paid Posts describes how new Federal Trade Commission guidelines want bloggers to disclose when they’ve been wooed with cash or freebies from companies they cover. Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff researched this topic, which Forrester calls “sponsored conversations,” and recommended the practice for marketers with a focus on transparency and authenticity.

However, transparency is only the solution if marketers are misusing the medium.

Still living in an old world mentality, marketers are now pushing their marketing messages through a paid medium called bloggers instead of TV. Yes, they get some credit for trying and risking the potentially negative feedback from an authentic blogger, but basically these marketers are buying reach in a new channel.

Instead of optimizing their sponsored conversations for transparency and reach, marketers should leverage interactive and social technologies to interact with engaged users and bring them closer to the brand before misuse jades consumers and limits the effectiveness for all marketers.