Social Marketing Strategies for Picking Screen Names

One of the fundamental social marketing strategies is to create a persona by which the on-line community gets to know your company. You should plan to participate on many social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, YouTube, blogs, forums, bookmarking services (such as Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, and so on), and topic-specific social networks.

When you join these social networks, you establish a screen name for each of them. And, the more you participate on the networks, the more people get to know you by your screen name. If the point of participating is to let potential customers find you, then it’s a good idea to use the same screen name on every social network you join.

The 3 Biggest Screen Name Blunders

I’ve seen many screen names that instantly turn me away. I’ve seen at least as many that grab my attention. However, except in rare cases, the ones that are most successful leave me indifferent: I don’t care so much about your name as I care about what you have to say. Even the best screen name can get you in trouble if you abuse your on-line identity. Here are three common—and bad—screen name strategies:

1. Register with social media web sites and services using your company name.

This is a losing strategy simply because normal people don’t socialize with companies; they socialize with other people. When a company name follows me on Twitter, I expect the tweets from that user to be all about the company; I rarely bother to find out. When a person’s name follows me, I read the associated profile, 40 or so of the person’s recent tweets, and I even click through to the person’s web site if there’s one listed in the profile.

People representing your company should use their own names, but clearly broadcast their affiliation by including it in their profiles and by mentioning it openly when offering opinions during social discourse. It’s acceptable to register your company name as a user on a social network, but this should be as a rallying point for loyal customers; don’t expect prospects to flock to your company name and devour the message you feed through it.

2. Register a clever user-name that shouts your skill set or expertise at the world.

The screen names OnlineMarketingPro and AudiMasterMechanic are flashing neon lights that seem like fine marketing bling. However, such screen names may repulse a huge segment of your potential customers. If I’m not anxious about my Audi when I see your screen name, I’m likely to ignore you; I’m on a social network, not an experts-ready-to-pounce network. When I need one, I’m more likely to look for a mechanic in the yellow pages or in a local business directory. You’re better off registering your own name on the social network, then sharing your profession in your profile, and mentioning it at appropriate places in conversation.

3. Have a surrogate handle your social networking so you can ignore it… but don’t share the lie with your audience.

If you’re well-known in your industry—a television personality, a politician, a musician, or an industry expert, for example—you may simply not have time to keep up conversations on social networks. It’s perfectly acceptable to have your staff or an outside agency maintain an on-line presence for you. But be involved. Don’t let your staff lie to your followers and represent themselves as you. When someone discovers they’ve been duped, the social network you exploited will turn on you. The speed with which public sentiment changes in the age of social networking can be dizzying.

Your Social Marketing Identity

The simplest—and the least controversial—screen name you can use on a social network where your intention is social marketing, is your name. I’m most receptive to friend invitations from people’s names. After that, I’m more likely to pay attention to a word or word combination that either suggests a person’s interest or that’s busting with creativity. Two of my favorite screen names on Twitter are @kissmyaster and @thegerminatrix. These are both people who are heavy into gardening/landscaping; the names are fun and they (vaguely) suggest professional focus without threatening to deliver a stream of marketing drivel.

I don’t object to a screen name that associates a person with a company. For example, BillToffee_StreppoTires interests me much more than, simply, StreppoTires. As I said earlier: I’m not likely to follow a company unless I’m already a fan or a customer. I might very well follow a person… and knowing up front that he or she works for Streppo Tires saves one step in getting acquainted.

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about why you should establish a social networking persona using your company’s name… and I’ll explain responsible and strategic uses for that persona. However, in most cases, the social marketing screen name intended to attract new customers should not be your company name.

 

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