Do Brands Need To Own Their Matching Twitter + Facebook Handles?

Twitter and Facebook for Branding

I feel like I’ve been having this conversation just about every week now so I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts. Go back in time five years and I’d tell you that having a Twitter and Facebook handle that exactly matches your brand name didn’t matter. Now I’m seeing a change and it’s mostly come from behavior I’ve seen with companies that go through a rebranding or pick a brand name for the first time.

Social Media is without a doubt one of the big customer acquisition sources for companies. Period. Big companies are using it like crazy (Delta has an entire social media lab), and of course startups and new companies are leveraging social in a major way.

I was talking to two startups this week, one doing a rebranding and the other picking a brand name for the first time both of whom would only go with a brand that they could get the .COM, Twitter, and Facebook handle. Last week I spoke to another startup going through a rebranding and they had the same requirement.

When I dig a bit deeper I learned a few interesting things:

  • When you go to a conference or event with people who discover you for the first time they often guess your Twitter handle when they’re tweeting about you. One startup told me about a marketing event they did that got over 1,000 tweets…but around 75% of them were for the wrong twitter handle since they didn’t own the exact-match of their brand name.
  • Even though it is against Twitter and Facebook’s TOS people are definitely actively buying and selling Twitter and Facebook handles.
  • Most companies I’ve talked to said that over 50% of the people who tweet about them use @[brand-name] where [brand-name] is their brand name the first few times they Tweet about them. They might course correct eventually but usually not initially which is when the interactions can often be the most important, i.e. a customer asking you a question about your product or company.
  • I’ve spoken to a couple of startups who complained about not having their matching Facebook page name. It made things tough for them with a few contests they had run in the past and unfortunately the owner of the PB page didn’t want to part with it and was also running contests…at the same time. This seems to happen most with companies branding around very broad single generic words.

All of this being said, there are plenty of examples of brands who do not have their Twitter and Facebook handles that are kicking ass so it’s definitely not a requirement for success, but from what I’ve been seeing and experiencing myself, it sure does help. It turns out that a majority of brands (around 55% as of last year) don’t own their matching Twitter handle.

What do you think? Should brands own their matching Twitter and Facebook handles? Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • HowieCrosby December 11, 2013, 9:40 am

    Great minds think alike LOL!!!

    I’ve been pondering the same scenario the last few months.
    Over the last year or so, Ive secured Twitter and Facebook usernames for .com’s that are important to me, one being an interior design, property “keyword” taking over “Shabby Chic”, which is now 8 years old;

    However, my only dilemma is that as this name is coasting on Twitter (with no prerequisite cost to sell the handle with the domain) Whilst, THE actual business could name themselves online, build up the niche, thus helping my/the .com!

    I can always offer the .com to them! The only predicament is that you get the right business use the handle to expose to the niche, and open up the flood gates or get somebody that just likes the name…ahhh

    The decisions… I think brands should own their matching social brand, for the obvious reason, but that’s down down to trademark and can’t be infringed by anyone? Can it?

    Great Post Morgan, and you’re probably still in SF too 😉

    Reply
  • Michael Cyger December 11, 2013, 9:54 am

    I’m in full agreement, Morgan.

    When I’m building businesses, I want the *exact* social media username that matches my brand and domain name.

    It’s a similar situation as buying a .com versus a .co, .me, or .io. Ideally, we’d all get the .com, but often they’re not attainable for a variety of reasons. Ieally, we’d want to the exact same username as the domain name and brand to reduce leakage, confusion, etc.

    Here’s a video I produced on this subject in 2011: http://www.domainsherpa.com/how-to-increase-the-value-of-your-domain-names-by-400-percent/

    It’s against TOS to buy and sell accounts/usernames. But if I register a username with a domain name I own and am preparing for development, selling the domain and transferring the social media accounts/usernames for free as part of the package (not to break TOS) is the way to go.

    The frustrating part for entrepreneurs who want a matching social media username is when the social media username is already reserved yet not being used actively. Of course we don’t have full visibility into if an account is active, just what we can see publicly on the profile.

    Another frustrating aspect is Google+ — making you tack on an extra word to your vanity username…for example, even though I own the trademark for “DomainSherpa” with the USPTO, they forced me to append a “com” (or another word) to the username, so now I have https://plus.google.com/+Domainsherpacom/. That’s frustrating from a branding perspective.

    Reply
    • Morgan December 12, 2013, 4:25 pm

      Thanks for sharing @Michael and great video – a must watch for anyone reading this comment string!

      Reply
  • Nick December 11, 2013, 10:00 am

    I have a related question, has anyone ever SOLD their Twitter (or facebook) handle/account because it matched a company’s newly created brand?

    Reply
  • Aaron Strong December 11, 2013, 11:51 am

    Great post! The matching of a domain to a handle is very undervalued at this time. It is very important for brands to match their domain addresses to social media handles. It makes marketing of the brand less confusing amongst the many social media platforms. From a marketing perspective it is mandatory when available, well worth the price.

    Reply
  • Richard December 11, 2013, 3:30 pm

    I don’t see it as a bid deal, because they are interlinked, and search engines notice this. I think if you own linton.com.. facebook.com/lintondotcom would be as good as facebook.com/linton, unless you count on facebook or twitter being your main advertising platform and direct traffic to their website..it’s just as good to have a similar alias, than the exact.

    Reply
  • Joe December 11, 2013, 5:26 pm

    Interesting post.
    I thinks as Richard., the best for his brand and domain, for my twitter is best, that facebook the two so advertising go well for the traffic to website,.ecommerce……… The Marketing change with the time of a crisis large, also the market and sectors accuse the same problem.

    Reply
  • Dan December 12, 2013, 6:39 am

    It is definitely becoming something that cannot be ignored more and more Morgan. I’ve had 2 occasions where Impersonators on Twitter have tried to leverage either my personal account or a business brand. Sadly, too few options exist in Twitter, and adding com or app etc is the norm now.

    Also worth noting, is that whereas Twitter names go down to singular characters, unless you secretly pay Facebook a ton of cash (take a bow BMW) you cannot get a Facebook URL below 5 characters so appending terms becomes a necessity. I would love to have used VIZN for my startup, VIZN.com, but unfortunately have had to settle for Facebook.com/vizncom because of these rules.

    Reply
  • Nick December 12, 2013, 6:01 pm

    @Michael Cyger: Thanks for answering my question 6 minutes prior to me posting my question! HAHA. I guess your answer wasnt live by the time I clicked Submit. Good info to know.

    Reply
  • michael December 12, 2013, 9:04 pm

    On Twitter it wasn’t to hard for me to take control over
    https://twitter.com/getnames
    https://twitter.com/getname
    even though someone else had them.
    I had control over getnames.com and twitter let me take them. If no one is using your brand and you have the .com Twitter will give it to you.

    Reply
  • Aaron Strong December 13, 2013, 9:03 am

    @Michael Cyger: Great video! Thank you! That video is full of extremely useful and valuable information….. Marketing and sales departments would have a clean slate to express their message under your advice and that is priceless for a small growing company. Thank you, Morgan…..

    Reply
  • Nick December 13, 2013, 5:10 pm

    @michael: I have had a twitter account for many years and never needed/wanted the .com of it but someone has the .com now. I want to protect myself from someone doing that to me – taking control of my twitter account.

    Reply
  • michael December 13, 2013, 5:32 pm

    Nick you just need to use the twitter account, if you let is sit longer then six months the .com owner could easily take it from you!

    Reply
  • Nick December 13, 2013, 6:48 pm

    Oh, ok. No problem there @Michael. Thanks! But in the case of no twitter use in six months then wouldnt any takeover control emails still go to the twitter account owner? In that case couldnt the takeover could be thwarted?

    Reply

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