What’s In a Name?

When it comes to social media:  a lot.  I’ve been harping on the topic of grabbing your or your brand’s name on your platforms of choice lately and with good reason.  Perhaps you think I’m going overboard on this subject, but I’d like to tell you a story – a true story – that better illustrates my sensitivity on this subject.

I launched a social media platform by way of LinkedIn Group for an association back in 2008.  LinkedIn was a little known website at the time, but it still offered opportunity for those who were willing to take a chance on this fledgling technology.  More importantly, it presented brands with a voice in an arena that wasn’t already cluttered with a lot of other brand noise.

After I established my own LinkedIn profile, I set out to establish a profile for my company.  I decided to launch a Group for the Society, where members and nonmembers could ask questions, seek referrals and network.  As I started the process of setting up a Group, I was surprised to learn that a Group had already been established in the Society’s name.  Since I worked in the Headquarters’ office with a small staff of 15, I couldn’t imagine who had beaten me to the punch.

My research produced the answer:  a member had initiated an official-looking Group using the association’s logo.  This member was an industry recruiter who was using the Group as a front to interact with a new pool of employment candidates.  I contacted the member and asked him to relinquish the Group back to the Headquarters’ office.  He declined and instead offered to return the Group to the association for a price.  Yes, you read that right:  he offered to sell the Group to us.

The next phone call that I made was to our attorney who sent this individual a cease and desist letter.  Our attorney cited the fact that his actions were in violation of the association’s bylaws.  The member was unimpressed by the letters and forged ahead.  When our attorney reached out to LinkedIn and demonstrated our case – that this individual didn’t have the proper authority to own the association’s Group – LinkedIn finally pulled the plug on the Group.  Fortunately no long-term damage was done.

One unfortunate result of this quagmire was that I couldn’t select the Society’s first choice in name when forming the official group.  Because it had already been used, even in an unauthorized manner, it could not be used again in any capacity.  We instead settled for our second choice, which really hasn’t had any lasting effects:  the group has since grown to 18,000+ members as of this writing.

Please save yourself the hassle, headaches and attorney fees by reserving your social media vanity URL now.  Even if you have no immediate plans to use it, the few minutes you invest now will be worthwhile downstream.


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