Twitter Kidnappings

The WSJ reported this morning about companies’ growing fight to stop Twitter imposters opening accounts in their names. One such imposter is using this ploy to try to get free passes and new business as ransom.

So far, Twitter has responded quickly and efficiently to complaints by shutting down false accounts but insists they can’t yet stop people from opening such profiles in the first place. They are planning to put a security check in place for celebs and public figures but the cost to do this for all known companies is a bit prohibitive. Twitter says it also prohibits unauthorized use of trademarks as part of its policy.

When it comes to branding, such a false Twitter account can be deadly. Anyone posing as you, putting messaging out into the ether, could harm your brand. And even if they don’t post anything seemingly harmful, you have someone out there in your name not controlled by your message – and leaving your fans following the wrong guy.

But the award for Biggest Cajones in this respect must go to marketing consultant David Goebel of Goebel Group. He created a Twitter profile in the name of amusement-park operator Cedar Fair in Ohio – for Buckeyes out there, they own Cedar Point. Then, he had the chutzpah to offer to relinquish the name account back to them in exchange for season passes to the park, as well as “suggesting” they hire his firm to oversee its Twitter account. Goebel did relinquish the account and was quoted as saying,that they should have given his proposal “some consideration.”

Yowsa. That’s one business development strategy, I’ll give him that. Folks, I don’t know about him, but I don’t have that kind of time to open up false Twitter accounts and keep them going. And I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that a good client relationship starts with extortion.

Talk about tarnishing your brand.

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