Protecting our name & online accounts from being hacked!

So I get this email below from my father this morning…I have been hacked! Oh yes, someone has broken into my email and hacked me. What have they done, sent out emails (from my contact list) including some weird link that leads them to a place of no return. BLAH…

Almost a year ago, I was hacked in a different way. I had someone break into my car and steal some very expensive items from me. Yes, I was hacked (well robbed) here as well. I am convinced this situation was predicated by someone learning my location based on conversations on Social Media sites, broke into my car in the middle of the night, and steal my stuff. That is why I am weary about some of the geo-location, social media technologies (Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude, etc.)

We are being hacked everyday from our new, digital lives. Whether it is a email account being hacked, houses broken into, social security numbers compromised, bank accounts with malicious charges, or Twitter accounts being used on our behalf with contradicting messaging. Look at the gulf and the BP situation, “Terry” created @BPGlobalPR to spread off color messages about the gulf situation, BP’s brand was hacked! Or was it really?

College coaches everyday deal with someone using the college coaches name to maliciously sell advertising to make a buck. Hackers are on so many levels compromising our very core of our own brand identity…so we are forced to squat. Seriously, go out and find all the digital domains, acquire them, and hold them so no one else will use them maliciously.

I wonder if Coach Steve Spurrier knows if his name is on this site, using Steve Spurrier’s brand equity to sell ads for someone else’s benefit? Are they hijacking his name or is it Coach Steve Spurrier’s fault for not knowing how other’s are using his name online? Maybe Coach Steve Spurrier knows about this site and is benefiting from the traffic? I know this…I am not clicking any of the links on this site until I know that Coach Steve Spurrier is benefiting from his brand equity being used, or any Steve Spurrier for that matter.

So let”s back up and think more about the main reason why I am writing. First of all, one of my accounts was compromised. Some person or person(s) used my email account to email a group of my contacts (my sphere of influence) to market their “product.” Yes, this is a technology inconvenience.  My mother called me and said, hey you should just delete all the contacts and close account. Let’s think about this for a second.

Yes, I have logged into this account (which is an old hotmail email account) and deleted all of the mail in the inbox, outbox, folders, sent, etc. I also deleted all of the contacts in the address book. I even went ahead and changed the three year old password. But, I am not going to delete the account. Why? Because it is my name, my brand, my face. The email account is BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com…if deleted, someone else can open a BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com account and begin emailing using my branded name.

Why do I care, because I do not want some other person using my name to communicate a message that I cannot control. Now it would be different if I was JohnSmith “at” hotmail.com, but I have a unique name. There are very few Bobby Rettew’s out there, and I would like to make sure I protect the branded name I have worked so hard to build. I do not want someone using this email account for reasons that could potentially “hack” my brand equity.

Leason I have learned: continually change my password. Yes, I am squatting on this email account…but that is my choice. Our name is everything to us…it is our branded image, even our email accounts.

Social Media in Large Organizations & Motherships

Large organizations like universities, hospitals, and major businesses are trudging through how to deal with implementing an effective social media policy. This policy has become more than just how to communicate with a constituency base, but how to manage the many silos within the organization.

Take a hospital for example, especially one that is in a major metropolitan area. They are dealing with major branding, implementation, and a execution strategy. A typical large hospital will have the main branded image with sub brands that represent service lines of their vertical revenue streams. Beyond those service lines, they have departments, doctors offices, and smaller groups that need some treatment with respect to the social media branding guidelines and short/long term execution strategy.

Another issue a large organization deals with the fact there are so many people within these service lines and departments that have taken their own initiative to set-up their own accounts. Since many of these technologies like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare cost nothing to set-up; “brand ambassadors” take it upon themselves to start connecting. They are the front line touch points for the organization. They understand their community. But how does one “reel all of this in” and make this a manageable process.

Like any marketing group, there is a:

  1. Time to evaluate the organization, the brand, and what is already in place.
  2. Evaluate mission statements and audiences of the organization.
  3. What problem do you want to solve.
  4. How can social media provide a new tool for the tool box and reach/engage a whole new audience in a new way.
  5. Establishing the “mothership” for the organization as a whole and all the other sub-brands within the organization.

We are trying to engage with audiences and provide a clear path for those audiences to receive information about the organization…the “mothership”.

Definition of “Mothership” – An online property where all of the “information” flows to and from the organization, to one stop shop funnel of information. This can be an organization’s main website or can even be an organization’s Facebook page. This is the main communication distribution point where organizations want to drive audiences back to receive “the message.”

Along with creating an effective social media strategy, there needs to be a new media strategy in place. What I mean by this, these large organizations need to have there “mothership” (web presence) positioned so it clearly displays the message and audiences can find information easily. Also, permalinks are crucial so audiences can find information on a defined URL and the social media’s can point back to a specific URL. Most large organizations use video messaging on a regular basis, so a consistent workflow with video email blasts and newsletters need to come into the conversation. Then away from just technology implementation, establishing a team that coordinates marketing efforts so the online presence coordinates with “traditional marketing efforts.”

Implementation of social media accounts for a large organization has to happen in stages and establish a tier system…basically, the brand treatments for each part of the organization.

Tier One – The Over Arching Brand for the organization (hopsital name, university name, company name)
Tier Two – Sub Brands in the organization (service lines, colleges, etc.)
Tier Three – Tertiary Brands (Individuals within the organization)

Here is where you think aesthetically with graphical treatment and naming conventions, creating a since of consistency across the brand organization so that if the audience is connecting with an individual, they would know that they represent the organization. This is where it gets fun, deciding whether individuals within a large organization want to use their name and face to represent the organization. This is part of that strategy conversation. This is both a personal and business conversation to have with people you want to represent the organization.

Honestly…this is only the beginning of a Social Media and Communication Strategy Assessment. Social Media Strategy integration into a large scale organization takes time, patience, and willingness to listen to not only the organization but also the “Brand Ambassadors” of the organization.

Am I “Mayor” of my own Social Media message?

With the awareness and interest raised for location based Social Media platforms/technologies like Foursquare and Gowalla, I have jotted down and exploration of thoughts. These thoughts and questions I have to think through myself; I have to answer these questions critically before moving forward with the use of these new location based platforms.

Some Thoughts I have been pondering and synthesizing:

  • Social Media outlets added to the “open source” movement that gives “small” people and organizations a voice.
  • Social Media transformed us (small people/organizations) as “thought leaders” to drive Internet traffic to our “motherships” for information.
  • Social Media platforms provided the “small” people/organizations an opportunity to create robust web properties competing with “big box” organizations.
  • Social Media platforms provided the awareness necessary to create a “mothership” portal where the majority of the marketing messages “flow” through driving traffic to engage with a consistent message.
  • Social Media technology and open source platforms allowed and empowered “small” people/organizations to compete in the messaging landscape with “big box” organizations.
  • Social Media has allowed those to use technologies to build “Tribes” creating movements to distribute a message around a community.

Some questions in my head personally and professionally:

  1. Why must “small” people/organizations be willing to use Social Media technologies to disclose locations?
  2. Does Social Media technologies disclosing locations hurt/degrade the value of the brand of the “small” people and organizations…or reinforce the brand of the “big box” organizations.
  3. Does location based Social Media technologies reinforce the “small” people/organizations as “thought leaders” empowering the reinforcement of the “big box” organization?
  4. Does location based Social Media technology reinforce the small individual people and organization “thought leaders” as “thought leaders” since they are proportionally the influencers for “bog box” brands?
  5. Have small people and organizations using Social Media platforms and location based technologies created a paradigm shift in perception transitioning those “small” people/organizations onto the same platform as “big box” organizations. Where does the influence lie and where will it lie in 10 years?

Who are the thought leaders?

Who really maximizes the true benefit of these location based platforms? Is it the groups publishing where they are located or is the organizations that are being recognized where this constituency base has chosen to locate and ultimately publicize? Some organizations are providing “rewards” for those soliciting their location using these technologies, but who is the thought leader here? Or do we care? Or is it just fun to say we are going to a movie and then to another place for a milkshake?

Organizations like hospitals might frame the benefit from these platforms with their marketing support staff providing their location especially for small doctors offices that lie under the umbrella of services. This is where organizations, “big box” organizations could benefit from internal staff providing location based advertising and raise awareness both from a public (business to consumer) and internal (business to business) position, informing other internal groups where and what is offered internally.

So what is the story behind these location based platforms? How are you using them? Are you doing more that just adding to the fad of saying what you are doing and where? Have you thought about the true marketing implications of these technologies and platforms? Are you telling your story or helping others with a bigger message? What are your thoughts? And will this become another place like Twitter where people get excited and then the honeymoon stage drops off like a bad relationship?

Building a Tribe – Building a Digital Strategy

Here are some notes that I use when working with groups to create a new media strategy, most of the ideas come from Seth Godin‘s “Tribes.”
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” ~ Seth Godin – “Tribes”

Creating a Micro-movement

  1. Publish a manifesto
  2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.
  3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another.
  4. Realize that money is not the point of a movement.
  5. Track your progress.

Identify the Brand (The Context)

  1. Audience
  2. Purpose
  3. Delivery

What is your Mission Statement?

What is your communication strategy?

Who are you trying to reach?

How to create reach? How to build the Tribe:
Build the Digital Media Presence:

  • Web has become more than one-direction
  • Create rich media for all audiences to engage
  • Create portals of conversations
  • User created content
  • Content Management System (CMS), Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr

Build the Events

  • Create events that engage students, industry, and academy in one conversation.
  • Create events for each group to engage internally & empower conversation.

Build a Community

  • Build the digital platform where students, faculty, staff, industry can engage, connect, and build relationships.
  • Use this digital community provide regular information about the community.
  • Use this digital community to create profiles for all to connect.
  • Build regular events around the intellectual engine.
  • Have thought leaders, entrepreneurs share innovation.
  • Provide a platform where students and industry can engage on common ground.

“A movement is thrilling. It’s the work of many people, all connected, all seeking something better. The new highly leveraged tools of the Net make it easier than ever to create a movement, to make things happen, to get things done. All that’s missing is leadership.” ~ Seth Godin – “Tribes”