Prevent Brand Identity Theft on Facebook

On February 18, 2010, wrote:

More and more brands are using Facebook to create Fan Pages – and for good reason, too. A Facebook Fan Page is a great online channel for sharing and promoting brand identity, as well as for engaging and interacting with audiences in a community-driven setting. SEO experts will also note that a Fan Page on Facebook can improve a brand’s online authority, thus making it friendlier to search engines.

However, there are dangers that come along with the benefits of social media – dangers that can hurt a brand and a company’s reputation. Brand identity theft, for example, has taken on many forms on the Web, and we see many cases of it happening on Facebook.

There are a number of companies who’ve made the mistake of letting fans take over Facebook Fan Pages of their brands. It may simply be that they trust their fans enough to let them have administrative control. Or it can be a case of being hesitant to try social media and social networking sites. There are also cases of brands being commonly misspelled, thus producing search results that lead to “unofficial” Fan Pages.

There are many potential Brand Identity Disasters that can occur from misrepresentation on Facebook. For example, 7Eleven is a very popular franchise, with their 24-7 Slurpees and delicious coffee drinks. The Official 7Eleven Facebook page is really well done — it has over 185K fans that actively engage with the brand. However, the brand name is commonly misspelled. What about when the average consumer searches for “711″ on Facebook?

Here is what they will find:

Problems:

  • Over 35 thousand fans have joined a fan page that never updates content and displays a poor image of the brand
  • The fan page insults competitor brands with harsh language
  • People who misspell the brand name have no option to find the official page

Sometimes the brands who are not participating within social media are subject to letting their fans take over completely. For example; CVS is currently not participating in Facebook. The CVS fan page is completely taken over by fans in a negative way.


Image Credit to 10e20

Problems:

  • Over 6 thousand people became fans of an imposter brand page
  • The fan page has no brand information
  • The fan page lacks any fan engagement on the Wall
  • The photos that are uploaded by fans hurt the brand tremendously

Whatever the case may be, it’s best to take a proactive approach in dealing with the presence of your brand in social media. A Facebook Fan Page, after all, is your brand community: where your company can address customers’ questions and inquiries, share new information, reach out instantly to new audiences and fans, encourage feedback, increase your visibility on the Web, and properly represent your brand.

Let a fan take control, and you don’t just risk brand identity theft. Facebook Fan Page nightmares include:

  • Having a Fan Page that includes no information – or misleading or incorrect information – about your company and your brand
  • Lacking any fan engagement on your Fan Page Wall
  • Lacking any updated content about your brand and company
  • Having fan-uploaded photos that hurt your brand instead of enhance it
  • Having customer complaints, grievances, and negative reviews and comments published (publicly) on a Wall that carries your brand name
  • Losing fans of your brand who choose to become a fan on the unofficial page instead of the official one made by your company

Avoid these nightmares and be proactive in building a winning Facebook Fan Page.
Do a search. Look for brand terms and misspellings of your brand name on Facebook. Monitor regularly. You may find an impostor or two (or possibly more), and identify the fans these unofficial Fan Pages have stolen from you. It’s not impossible to win them over!

Perfect your profile. On your page, write down all the pertinent information about your company and brand. A company overview, website and contact information, press releases, photos, videos, blog RSS, Twitter updates, company news, etc.: you can put in as much information as necessary. Be sure to include contact information: if a fan has a question about the brand, you can be the one to give an ‘official’ answer – instead of another fan, who is not a trained brand employee, answer it on your behalf.

Dress up your Fan Page with applications. There are great tools and applications on Facebook which you can incorporate into your Fan Page to make it more interactive and social. Pizza Hut, for example, added an Order application that lets fans order pizzas through the Pizza Hut Facebook Fan Page. Leverage the tools that are specific to your brand: if you’re running a movie theater, show your fans the screening times in a fun way. If you are a musical performer, add a tool that lets fans listen to your work without having to leave Facebook.

Take control. The only way you can win over fans to your official Fan Page is when you dedicate a few hours each week to updating it. Keep adding new content. Reply to questions, inquiries, and discussions about your brand. Post updates, and make them witty. Keep your Facebook Fan Page fresh and fun. That way, you minimize the risk of someone else misrepresenting your brand – and you also maximize the power of social media in enhancing your reputation.


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