Staking your claim(s)

Reserved car parking space
I am very torn about this post.

  • One the one hand, even if from the outside an online presence (in any format) seems like the shiniest and most beautiful jewellery box you have ever see, I want you to understand that anything can be a pandora’s box of timesuck and effort and there are elements of risk that need to be addressed as part of your planning and briefing process (whether that process be internal or external).
  • On the other I recognise that you have a commercial / business imperative that can make exploring your options and marking out your territory seem incredibly pressing.

Plus if the real-estate is able to be claimed by anyone, it is important to put your flag onto it before anyone else does. Especially with free channels (social media like facebook and twitter etc) where there is no financial overhead for someone to come along and squat on what would/could/should be your perfect user/url/social identity – we’ve already looked at instances where big(ger) businesses have gotten it wrong in this respect.

Searchengineland describe another example where big business have got it wrong in terms of online identity management, in this case where a company put the cart before the horse:

Torrent Pharma, an Indian pharmaceutical company, recently sent out a press release announcing that they are bringing to market Rimoslim, a generic version of the very popular weight loss drug Acomplia. I first learned of Rimoslim while reading the release and as a domainer (domain speculator)-in-training, I immediately searched to see whether the .com domain name was available. Shockingly, it was. I did not buy it because I believed that I would be setting myself up for a future conflict with Torrent, thinking that they would likely respond with considerable fury if they ever became aware of the gravity of their error.

Sure enough, Rimoslim.com was quickly purchased by a “resident of France” known as “Dave the Red Frog” (at least some domainers have a good sense of humor). Instead of spending $10 to purchase their branded domain, Torrent either must spend a considerable amount of energy and resources chasing down “Dave the Red Frog” who has parked the page for ad revenue or accept that they have lost their branded .com domain name.

(Best Practices For Corporate Domain Name Management, accessed 10 July 2011)

What you need before you get started

  1. A registered business name
  2. $50 per year (estimate)
  3. 25 of your most trusted, reliable and closest friends or employees within your business who do not judge, can keep a secret and are not prone to doing anything stupid (estimate, it might be worth finding 30 just in case)

Before we get started…about your business name

Your business name is quite important. Chances are when people go looking for your online presence, they will be using your actual  business name to find it. The Site Wizard gives a good wrap up of the interdependence between your domain and your business (website) names:

Naming your site after your domain may seem obvious to some of you, but you’ll be surprised to learn that not every website is named after the domain name even when the webmaster owns that domain name.

Naming a site after its domain name is important, for the simple reason that when people think of your website, they’ll think of it by name. If your name is also your URL, they’ll automatically know where to go. For example, when people think of thefreecountry.com, they don’t have to wonder what URL to type into their browser to get there. The name of the site is also the URL.

Imagine if your business (or website) is called “Acme”, but somebody else holds that domain name. Instead, you have some obscure domain name called, say, “mybusiness.com”. What happens when your customers, recalling that Acme has a product they want, type “www.acme.com”? They’ll end up at your competitor’s website. One lost sale.

(Tips on choosing a good domain name, accessed 10 July 2011)

With that in mind, hopefully you have chosen something:

  • unique enough that no one else is likely to be competing with you to claim any territory that you want, and
  • either:
  • short enough to be memorable and easily retrievable
  • easily converted into an abbreviation or acronym
  • easily segmentable, in the case where an acronym, abbreviation or your full business name is not an option

1. Reserving your domain(s)

Domain name you might also know as website or URL, i.e. ellipticalpov.com and ellipticalpointofview.com are both domain names that I have reserved and directed to this blog.

There are plenty of companies that sell domain names and provide hosting and many of them have tools that allow you to scope out what domains are available (I was lazy and did mine through wordpress).

Before you jump head first into anything, I would suggest reading the sitewizard article I pointed you towards in the section above.

Then start checking availability and pricing using the tools of domain providers like crazydomains, Melbourne IT and anyone else you can find. This is where the $50.00 per year comes in.

Important points:

  1. Priority should be on .com (if you ever plan to have an international offering) and the local equivalent (i.e. in Australia this would be .com.au) – I would suggest getting both
  2. If you are a not-for-profit or charitable organisation, you might want to consider the .org and the .org.au
  3. Beware of the hidden scams/catches run by dodgier domain registrars and what it can mean to you
  4. You can have up to 67 characters, but that may not be true of the other online presences you need to reserve so it’s important you choose something that can potentially work across all of them*
  5. If you have to choose an abbreviation or a segment of your actual business name then all your other online and offline publications should use the same nomenclature (consider universities who are known by their acronyms rather than their full titles)*

*Why:

It’s important there should be as little cognitive load as possible on your customers as they identify and connect with your online presence on different channels, so make it easy for them:

  • choose something you can replicate everywhere you go
  • reinforce nomenclature both online and offline to ensure retention

Advanced domain work

This is going to depend on what annual funds you can allocate to this – my suggested budget of $50/year could potentially get you 4 domains depending on where you spend it. Consider John Galliano’s design house is currently sitting on 33 domains, all of which will have an annual fee…

However, if you have a strong idea of:

  • which regions you want your business to progress into and/or
  • which other identities your company may need to assume or expand into (e.g. you’re a design house that will eventually want to look into a perfume licensing deal)

Then it is worth reserving those domains as early as you can (i.e. while they are still available). Searchengineland also suggests registering:

  • misspelt variants
  • generic variants

2. Set up your Facebook page(s)

Assuming it is appropriate for your to have a facebook page for your company or output, then you need to set up a page.

If you haven’t already set your username up facebook.com/username go out and check whether the option you want is available, if not start getting creative but do not set this as your personal username (these are not editable once set and not transferable as Balenciaga are likely to have recently found out)

Please note:

Then, get your skates on as you need a page and 25 Likers to claim that username for your page…

Vital statistics of page names:

  • Length: 72 chars (this long in case I miscounted: Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
  • Accepts:
    • Alpha (A-Z)
    • Numeric (0-9)
    • Symbols (. – _ )

Vital statistics of usernames

Set up the page

To make it easy, Facebook have split out official pages into different types:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Company, Organization, or Institution
  • Brand or Product
  • Artist, Band or Public Figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or Community

In each instance, you have to agree to abide by Facebook’s Terms of Service for Pages

 Next steps after creating your page:

  • Send a personal message to each of those 25 friends on Facebook, asking them to like your page as soon as they can.
    You’ll likely stand a greater chance of uptake and success if you have prepared the ground for this message, so they know to expect it and what to do
  • Wait until you have 25 Likers (you may want to send it to at least 30, but until you are prepared to really work this page with content and commitment, you probably want it on the down-low)
  • When you have 25 Likers, go to facebook.com/username and name your new baby

3. Twitter

In each instance, your account must abide by the Terms of Service

Vital statistics of usernames

  • Length: 15 characters (this long in case I miscounted: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxz)
  • Accepts:
    • Alpha (A-Z)
    • Numeric (0-9)
    • A few symbols (_, but not .)
  • Will allow capitalisations

4. Youtube

In each instance the account and the content you upload must abide by the Terms of Service

Vital statistics of usernames

  • Length: 20 characters (this long in case I miscounted: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
  • Accepts:
    • Alpha (A-Z)
    • Numeric (0-9)

Summary

Remembering the earlier point about reducing cognitive load on your customers? With that in mind it is preferable that your domain name is no longer than 15 characters and can be used to secure real-estate on the 4 channels I have outlined above.

Whatever brand nomenclature you are able to use should be, as much as possible, consistent across all the channels you reserve space on as well as in your offline communications.

At this point in time, you should consider your domain(s) and Facebook page(s) as non-negotiable, with twitter and youtube as desirable but optional extra(s).

I’d suggest reserving them anyway – it is still worth reserving the space even if you may only use youtube if and/or when you are in a position to produce content which might be able to be used on it (e.g. trailers, music video, footage of openings, fashion shows, performances or exhibitions, interviews with cast/crew or other).

You may not be able to produce content now or use the channels right now, but if you have at least reserved the space you are in the position to make use of it if/when the opportunity presents.

Why no Google+?

Worried that this didn’t include the new buzzword: Google+ Two points:

[Disclaimer, I am trialling Amazon Associates program – while the link above will take you to the Amazon you know and love and can purchase items on, I will earn a small commission for having the good taste to refer you to it.]

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