I recently received word through the grapevine that Knowem.com has relaunched with the wonderfully dotcommy Knowem2.0. For those of you not familiar with this site (I know I wasn’t) Knowem provides “social media identity theft” protection (hopefully not in a “Guido here, he provides… protection” kinda way) by registering you across 300 some odd social media sites. In other words it lets you grab up your company name (or personal/username) on every social network imaginable before any nefarious no-good-nicks do so and start tweeting, grazing, squidooing, kivaing, beboing, virbing, sketching, or thumbslapping (I have no idea what that last one means) as you.
The thing is, registering 150, or 300, or paying $50 a month to be registered on up to 30 more social networks per month seems to completely and utterly miss the point of social media. It’s as out of touch as tacking a “2.0” onto the end of your service and…
This whole concept—and Knowem isn’t alone in this—reeks of that that pre-dotcom understanding of the internet, where your brand needs to be everywhere. Where you need to get as many “eyeballs” as possible looking at you. But social media has always been about precisely the opposite: making personal connctions, and using that to create meaning between your brand and your customers. And that requires a level of exclusivity.
There is no way that you can make meaningful experiences across all of these networks (unless you’re Microsoft or something and don’t care about the costs, only the “street cred” of being able to make people follow your wine tastes on cork’d.)
Now Kent, I hear you all say, we’re not talking about marketing, we’re talking about protecting our valuable brand names! We’re talking about making sure that those horrible trolls dont hijack our brand and parody us, we’re talking about making sure that no silenafil is sold in our name!
Yeah, that’s what the rhetoric is saying, but at the heart of it that’s not really what this is about. If it were then there would only be the $99 minimal-profile package and that would be that. If this were about protection then they wouldn’t be advertising registering your full profile on 150+ sites with 30 more a month. That’s not protection, that’s OCD.
Hell, even if they did only offer the $99 150-sites-with-minimal-profile service, we’re talking about an attitude towards brand control that you just can’t do n any meaningful sense any more. If 66% of the touchpoints customers have with brands are produced by customers (McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009) then—lets face it—your brand is no longer in your hands and no number of empty accounts on social media sites are going to fix that.
What you can do is grab positions of opportunity across social networks. Grab a Twitter account, sure. Do it now, in fact. Then maybe register a Facebook fan page. Then if you’re a wine company go jump on Cork’d or Snooth, or if you’re a musician get on Last.fm. Grab accounts in relevant communities(there aren’t that many of them, no where near 100). Then develop a proper social media strategy for those communities. Remember, you’re building fans, not gaining eyeballs.
No amount of empty social media accounts will protect your brand from “hijacking”, but merely a handful of devoted followers in one carefully chosen community can have a huge effect.
So if you feel you feel the need to get some brand protection then don’t go registering hundreds of accounts, camping your name across the multitude of social media sites available. Instead go where you’re relevant, go where you’re wanted, go where your fans are.