Nov 12, 2012

Rebranding Your Social Media Profiles

Rebranding is more than just a logo change.  It involves developing a new position in the minds of stakeholders, competitors, and customers; be it to differentiate itself from the rest, to discard a negative perception, or as a response to market share loss or emergent situation. It requires an overhaul of the branding strategy: message, goals, culture. Naturally, rebranding should also cover your social media profiles. Due Diligence Probably the biggest social media mistake to date of a “big brand” was made by Netflix, when no one from their marketing team made sure that the company owned the Twitter ID Qwikster prior to launch the DVD-by-mail service Qwikster. When users tried to follow @Qwikster on Twitter, they found a high school guy who tweeted about drugs and frequently swore. Although he wasn’t connected with Netflix, a bad name and poor judgement was consequently  linked with the Netflix brand. To avoid a similar faux pas, carry out the following tasks before even hinting to your audience about the potential for a rebranding:

  • Acquire the domain name of your new brand name’s URL;
  • Check and ensure that the Facebook Page and Twitter handle you want associated with your new brand are still available; and
  • Hold focus groups with current customers (or members/volunteers for not-for-profits) to find any unseen issues with your intended rebranding.

It is important for you to do this research before you go on with your rebranding plan. This will certainly minimise potential errors.

Recognise Restrictions
In the process of rebranding, note the limitations that would interfere with your changing your profile. Although these restrictions should not have an impact on your ability to rebrand your social media profiles, it would be best to consider them before going through the change.

Facebook — as of writing, this social media giant does not allow page owners to modify the names of their pages once they have acquired 200 likes. This measure was put in place to avert the buying and selling of fans. It would seem that the simplest solution is just create a new page and encourage current fans to like the new one.  For some genuine branding cases, some users have reported being able to reach contacts within Facebook’s customer support system who changed brand names manually. Results will naturally differ, but bear in mind that requesting followers to like a new page will cause loss in your fan base.

Twitter — allows the change of username and profile information with ease. Just log into your profile and go to the Settings area. Change the current username listed in your account to you what you’d like it to be, instead (if it is available), and click Save changes. Go to Edit Profile afterward to modify your Twitter image, name, URL, and bio. Such changes will be reflected automatically.

It would, nonetheless, be wise to conduct an outreach campaign to educate followers on why such changes were done and what your new brand means.

If you will use Twitter a lot, best to also get your custom short domain, for both branding and getting all you tweet into that 140-character space.

YouTube — does not allow users to alter their registered usernames,  but you can create vanity URLs that would  “mask” your old channel’s content to show the rebranded URL.  To edit your YouTube channel, click here.

LinkedIn — makes changing your profile in Groups and Company Pages a bit tricky. Currently, Group identities can only be changed a maximum of five times, which includes changing your Group name and Group logo. Nip this in the bud by making sure your Group logo is ready before you change your Group name to lessen the number of changes you will need to do. What’s more, LinkedIn Company pages can only be modified by contacting the LinkedIn Help Center directly — patience would be needed from your end since it might take a while for them to get back to you. To speed things up a bit, give all the necessary info behind the change and confirm that you own both the current account and new branded identity (and are the authorised rep).

Once done, go over your updated page to make sure that any references to your old identity have been deleted.

Clear Communication
Customer communications should remain your main priority all throughout the rebranding process. See to it that your communications plan would include:

  • A video about why you are rebranding. Knowing and understanding why a company is altering its image helps customers accept the transition easier.
  • Stress what is and is not changing. Is it just a colour change (e.g., New Zealand’s National Bank after it was acquired by ANZ), a logo change (e.g., Twitter), change of culture altogether (e.g., Lifetime channel that was formerly made-for-TV movies), or much more. You have to be upfront about it.
  • Use as many platforms as you can. Informed customers make happier customers, so post announcements on your rebranding on your website, blog, all your social media profiles, your email newsletter, and any other online site your customers regularly patronise.

Don’t expect that your customers will be on board with your rebranding process initially (e.g., several YSL aficionados are still seething about the name change to Saint Laurent Paris). Most people are by nature are resistant to change and will react to the change with fear or skepticism or even ire (e.g., every time Facebook makes an update, like those who protested against Timeline).

Nevertheless, good communication will help minimise the impact and establish goodwill with your customers as you rebrand your image.

Have you rebranded your business and included your social media profiles? What positive outcomes or learnings have you encountered in the process?

Image: WeJungo Network
Source: Social Media Examiner

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