When it comes to promoting your business online, there is a lot to be said for including social media marketing into the mix of your digital marketing strategy. Especially since sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so many more provide businesses with the perfect opportunity to engage and interact with customers and prospects from all around the world. So how exactly should you respond when you decide to take the plunge only to find that someone else has grabbed your company/brand name on one of these social media sites? Well to start, as frustrating as it may be, try and remain calm and keep in mind that not all social media squatters are the same. Some may be trying to make money while others may simply be fans of the business. Others may genuinely have rights to use the name. For example, a business with a similar name in a different city or country. Therefore, the approach to try and resolve really has to be taken on a case by case basis.
Plead your case to the social media site
If you are an established business with strong brand recognition and someone has set up a social media account with your company name and details, you may want to consider contacting the social media company directly. They may possible agree with the fact that the squatters are holding on to brand name in a bad or immoral way and the social media site may decide to take action. This can see you get your account set up with the right name with no cost and minimal interaction. In the case of someone who has started to squat in your name, this is likely to be the best outcome for your business.
That said, do note that each social media site has their own way to deal with these claims so make sure to check out the terms and conditions. You will most likely be asked to verify that you are the legal owner for the business and accompanying domain name, and you should be able to point out why the current account should be closed down and the address handed over to you. Getting the social media company to take action may ultimately come down to whether or not you own the trademark to the company/brand name in question; especially in cases where there are similar company names.
Deal with the person behind the account
In this regard, it is likely to be of better value and benefit to you and your business if you attempt to deal directly with the people behind the squatting account. If they have developed a strong fan base, you should be able to take advantage of this, giving you a strong starting point for your social media activities.
This is where you negotiate with the current account holder for the username and password details. Obviously the account holder will be looking for something in return and this is where you need to think about what the account is worth to you. If it is possible to come to an agreement that is well within your appraisal of the site, it is worth pursuing. This approach can be much faster than dealing directly with a social media site over a squatter. It is also likely to end in much better PR for your business. If you are seen to be trampling over an individual or small firm or going behind their back, you may find that you get a lot of bad press, which is not good in the long run.
Use a different social media handle
Another alternative is to use a completely different social media handle. No this isn’t the ideal resolution but if it is similar yet different, over time your clients, prospects, partners, etc. will all begin to associate the social media handle with your company. Plus this will allow you to be consistent across all the social media sites. With that in mind, would recommend that as a new network gets launched; claim the social media handle for your business. It doesn’t mean that you have to devote time to this new network, just that you want to avoid having to further deal with social media squatters.
All in all, while social media squatters can be an annoyance for any business, there are ways to gain control of what is rightfully yours or simply to move ahead.
Ursula Petula Barzey is a Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Moxee Marketing, a London based digital marketing agency.