What Social Media Influencers need to know about Brand Protection

The year 2017 is a milestone year for social media. It was exactly 20 years ago, in 1997, that the very first social media platform, SixDegrees.com, was launched. Most of us have probably not heard of it, and that’s not surprising since the platform survived for only 4 years. Since then, there has been a surge in the number of social media platforms that have been launched: Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, WeChat, WhatsApp, Blogger, Wordpress, Youtube, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Classmates, Orkut, Snapchat, Vine; the list just goes on.

While many of these platforms still exist, some have died a slow death and some have experienced an abrupt end.

An image dated 13th June 2007, taken from: www.nbcnews.com

Take, for instance, MySpace. From 2005 to 2008, Myspace was the largest social networking site in the world. In 2008, MySpace began losing its members to Facebook and soon it was as good as dead.

Remember the 6-second-video sharing platform, Vine? It was acquired by Twitter in 2012 and in October 2016, Twitter decided to put Vine to rest. The many Vine celebs, who had millions of fans and followers, had no choice but to make peace with the fact that all their hard work had gone to waste.

While these platforms saw an extreme eventuality, other social media platforms, on the other hand, undergo constant changes to monetize and/or to improve user engagement. For example, Snapchat stopped auto play and marketers saw declining view counts of their content. Facebook aggressively started taking down music covers because they hadn’t yet come up with their own version of Content ID like YouTube or a way to monetize them. Such changes are obvious across platforms but what does it mean for social media influencers?

Since social media influencers and celebrities depend on various third party platforms for brand collaborations and content partnerships, it is obvious that any change on those platforms can affect their livelihood.

The fluidity of social media and the ever-changing policies of social media companies is a reminder that it is in the interest of social media influencers to be more in control of their personal brand. Does a corporate brand have only a page on Facebook or an Instagram profile? They always have a website first.

Corporate brands may put their social media links on their website so that users know which are the official pages to follow. In case, say, Instagram decides to shut shop tomorrow, the brand will still have their website intact and customers or fans will know where to connect with the brand. Then why should celebrities and social media influencers not do the same? Investing in a good domain name is crucial to building and sustaining a strong personal brand. If you have a website, it’s your private property; fully owned by you. While you may still be a Twitter celeb, your fans would know where to find you if Twitter ceases to exist tomorrow.

In addition, a website does not require a fixed content format or character limit. Thus, it offers a fantastic opportunity for influencers to showcase their personality through all forms of content at one place — be it videos, articles, photos, haiku or anything else. If an individual or a brand wants to follow an influencer, they can find all the information about them and all of their social media links at one place — on the influencer’s website!

One of the biggest advantages of having a website is that it allows you to track analytics and data. You can see which content enticed which kind of user and for how long, where did the user come from and at which point did the user decide to drop off. No platform would give you access to that kind of analytics but a website. Such data can help you optimize your marketing efforts and enable you to focus on promotional channels that work the best for you. Basically, a website helps you truly know your customers.

In the dynamic world of social media coupled with the boom of social promotions and social media influence, it is imperative that those who depend on this medium for their livelihood be prepared for probable eventualities. By investing in a website, influencers and celebrities can transition their digital brand into their ‘own property’ instead of building on someone else’s.

A domain name is thus the first step towards claiming (and controlling) one’s brand online!