Why branded social media estates are like Pokémon: Qwikster vs. Jason Castillo

 Netflix have learnt the hard way that social media can’t be a last minute consideration when it comes to a rebrand. Marketing has to be fully integrated with social media planning. On demand video service Netflix struck upon the name Qwikster for its DVD side of the business, you can find its official web holding page here. While the company may have managed to secure that prime piece of web real estate, it appears it was a little tardy in bagging relevant branded social media estates. Twitter was where it all came unstuck.

I urge you to visit the Twitter profile of Jason Castillo or @Qwikster as he is better known; Jason has an enviable way with words, a love of weed and an aversion to wasps. And he’s not beyond talking about the offers he has begun receiving from Netflix’s rapidly mobilising marketing dept to try and secure his Twitter handle (however, these references to money have been deleted from his account in the last 24 hours, it appears he doesn’t want to kill the goose that could lay some golden eggs.)

 Jason has seen his follower count increase from the tens to more than 11k in just two days. This is high profile embarrassment for Netflix, more media attention is now on this social media faux pas and the expletives being pumped out from the @Qwikster profile than in the new service. The company’s online reputation had taken a knock on Sunday about the way it communicated its service update to customers, as seen in this apology from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The reality is that the Jason Castillo incident could have been avoided.

If you’re a brand manager you simply have to remember that old Pokémon adage – ‘Gotta catch ‘em all.’

It’s a fine art, coming up with an original name and idea, but the proliferation of social media and the fact that anyone can own potentially valuable online real estate without out-laying cash means that brands are ever more likely to run into these clashes between the general public and their brand aspirations. Google +’s Huddle feature is another example of a big company (that really should know better) not researching new branding sufficiently.

The key learning?

Bag your brand handle and do your research. You can social media estate sense-check campaign and brand names via sites like Name Chk BEFORE an announcement or making your web site live. Prevention is better than cure, after all your online reputation is at stake.

Finally, you can’t Pikachus your social media estates after the fact, sorry, I had to put that in there.

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