Social networks: How are brands behaving?
You hear more and more about social networks in the media, and as a brand owner, you may be asking yourself questions such as :
- How do I know if my trademark is well protected?
- What should I do if my trademark is used by a third party?
- My company is being smeared on Facebook or Twitter, how can I get it removed?
- Why should I protect my brand on social networks?
In this article we will try to give you some answers.
Social networking – definition :
A community of directly or indirectly related individuals or organisations, gathered according to common interests, such as musical tastes, passions or professional life.
Importance of social networking :
Social networks are one of the new vectors of communication.
The meteoric rise of micro-blogging accounts such as Twitter and its messages of up to 140 characters confirms this trend.
Currently, according to a study conducted by Ifop, most Internet users belong to an average of 1.9 social networks (2.9 among the under 25s).
We can note that a third of Internet users present on 1 social network are also present on 2 or 3 others.
The number of users, all social networks combined, is in the billions, which greatly increases the risks for brand owners of being confronted with a problem.
Our survey of the top 100 brands
We wanted to show that brand owners do not seem to take this phenomenon into account and are therefore victims of the rise in power of these social networks, which are increasingly numerous and specialised.
We have first selected 15 of the most used and voluntarily internationally renowned social networks, which are listed below :
We then checked the presence, or not, of the 100 most active trademarks in the protection of their rights on the Internet (according to a study carried out by the firm Deloitte)
This study therefore includes more than 1,695 entries (i.e. 100 trademarks tested on each of the 15 networks, including variants with and without hyphens of certain compound trademarks).
What is striking is that these brands are not protected at all.
Indeed, only 13% have an account identical to their brand, 31% of these accounts are free and 56% are even taken by third parties.
The majority of brands seem to think that having a Facebook account is enough to be present on social networks. Even if Facebook is the biggest network, it is still just one of many.
We found that while 65% of Facebook accounts belong to rights holders (which is still low), only 42% of them have a Twitter account.
Specialised social networks are also sidelined, for example if we compare Youtube and Dailymotion (networks specialised in video sharing), we get 52% of use for the former and 11% for the latter.
What is surprising beyond these figures is really the share of accounts held by third parties. We even have an incredible score of 94% on very specialised social networks such as Lastfm (music).
The favourite networks for brands are Facebook, Youtube and Twitter in the top three.
What to do, how to react to this situation?
In the first instance, we advise you to use companies specialising in Internet naming consultancy that have extensive monitoring packages, such as those offered by Safebrands (social networks, internet content, domain names…)
Here is one of the methodologies to follow :
Before going ahead, we strongly recommend that you carry out an inventory of fixtures in order to assess the extent of the damage.
This audit allows you to obtain a classification in three groups :
- Free accounts
- Accounts used by third parties
- Accounts that belong to you
Of the second category, you should check whether or not the account holders have any rights (e.g. some trademarks are also family names).
Example of a person whose surname is identical to the name of a trademark, who offers to exchange his account for a subdomain related to the main domain name of the trademark.
Example of an account taken by a third party, clearly offered for sale by its holder.
It is also necessary to analyse the content of the messages linked to these accounts, in order to be able to define the possible infringements.
You will now have to :
- protect the accounts that are still free
- attack people who have accounts without any legitimate rights
- contact the entitled persons who also have accounts
The first step can be quick, but we advise you to act quickly.
The second step requires prioritisation. You will attack the Facebook or Twitter accounts more quickly than Lastfm, which is a very specialised network.
The third step can be similar to buying domain names, and it is the expertise of your provider in this area that will make the difference.
You need to set up a social network monitoring system, because beyond the account names themselves, you can be the victim of denigration in the messages themselves, or see your trademark infringed, in groups or account names (e.g. trademark-sucks or trademark-counterfeit).
The monitoring services offered by the Mailclub can also be subject to analysis by their legal department, which can make recommendations on the best way to act.
To be able to act, you must first be informed of a possible infringement of your rights, hence the importance of setting up surveillance.
The road to account recovery can be long, so it is important to act quickly.