What’s in a Name?

This particular economy is generating a new stream of entrepreneurs, many with years of experience in the corporate world and in circumstances that give them the opportunity to start something they hadn’t done before- their own business.  It’s a frequent scenario, and their name is what carries weight, as it the name (and the person) that is known among their peers, in their market, and the asset that reminds people of their achievements.

But does that mean you should name your business after yourself?

As a marketer, I’d say, “That depends”, and much of what it depends on is the commonality of the name itself.  Here’s what you should consider as you establish your business and your brand, beyond just your “personal brand.”

Verify availability:

  • Google the name.  Who is your competition?
  • Check if your URL is available.
  • Check if there would be any confusion with the name and someone  else using the same one.
  • Is the Twitter handle available?
  • Who has the same name on LinkedIn?
  • What and/or who is on Facebook using that name?

The length of your name has to be considered as well, especially since “space” becomes a limitation in content areas such as Twitter and Facebook, and even in the subject lines of emails. (Yes, I’ve done testing for clients, and this holds true.)

Beyond just your own name:

Even when you have a name and it’s not your own moniker, apply the same tactics.    And whatever you do, avoid the word “monster.”  (Monster Cable is well-known for protecting that word when they feel threatened, and they’ve received much publicity for it- both good and bad.  So much so, they even posted highlights on their own site.cialis online


You’d think this is something that everyone would do, right?  I have seen in the last year people deciding on a business name, incorporating that business in their state, then learning that they are using the same name as a competitor in the same space.  That’s after they’ve set up bank accounts and the internal infrastructure to get started on marketing.  They ultimately face either find a new name, reinvest money, or decide to face the competition online in multiple arenas.  That’s a lot of time and money invested to potentially help the other guy out.

I know this seems commonsense, but I’m writing it because I’ve seen it frequently enough that I’m sharing just a little reminder to those starting out.   Choosing a name is important to most business owners & entrepreneurs.  It’s personal, it’s somewhat emotional, and it’s the concrete beginning to a new venture.  The result, however, should be should be useful to you, and not an impediment.

Shakespeare wrote:  “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet;”

Except that in Shakespeare’s time his product wasn’t LLC’d, Trademarked, given specific URL’s, and SEO’d.

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The Original Social Media- an advertisment

Back noise is so 1880’s

The Original Social Media- an advertismentSocial Media & Social Storytelling.

I’m renaming the 38th National Storytelling Festival to “The Original Social Media Outlet.” The event, held in quaint and charming Jonesborough, TN, left an indelible impression on me.  For this sojourn, I expected to hear highly talented people recount stories and share the funny, the sad, the poignant; to be with strangers; to engage anonymously; to hear great content; to be entertained.   I was not disappointed.

What I did not expect was to liken the festival and its roots to Social Media.  But in fact, today’s ubiquitous storytelling has moved from the small town, in person, to the online social media outlets.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn all serve as the local store where you’d get your mail, hear the news, buy some wares, and send a telegraph.  Faster than the pony express.

But then again, let’s not forget it was at the local store where you’d get the local town gossip. Also faster than the pony express.

Good or bad, gossip has its place in society.  And gossip most often is what is said About you, not To you.   To serve this very function, social media offers us BackNoise.com. This site allows people to actually write commentary while a presentation is being given, allowing the attendees of the conference to read the comments real time.  (The irony here is that people writing often critique the content of the speaker while speaking.  It is possible that the nuances of subtle, valuable information get missed by the people who themselves are doing the critiquing.)  At times, the commentary flows into personal commentary about the speaker.  But there’s a more interesting, new social conundrum about Backnoise.com.  Most of the comments posted are anonymously.  And anonymously, they flow. Like town gossip.

But is the anonymous part really new?  And is it really bad?

As Chris Brogan stated “There’s always truth in the negative.  The only thing wrong is that the negative doesn’t tell you how to fix it.”

Twitter, with bots and avatars and created identities, has been the “back noise” since its inception.  While it gives people the opportunity to learn, share, and build community, it also gives outlets for the angst of an individual or the venom towards a brand, an individual, or social groups.   And those avatars and characters are often not with the person’s real name.  But this isn’t new.  Many authors in the last century and long before have written under pseudonyms.

Different perspectives on BackNoise.com were shared in a well written blog by Stacy Williams at http://bit.ly/MR8Uk.  She depicts the effect of being disturbed by what people were willing to put into writing  and the conflicting desire to actually read it while it was taking place.   The responses in the blog also give insight to the numerous reactions ranging from:  “Don’t bore your audience” to commentary supporting that the behavior is not effective.

While content is exceptionally important, to easily claim that one was “bored and therefore excused to behave differently,” relinquishes one’s self control to someone else.  It also lessens the responsibility of an individual towards another individual. This back noise is in a face to face environment.

Multi-tasking itself diminishes one’s ability to listen, pay attention, and finally determine if content was quality or not.  It’s necessary to multi-task, as we have a bombardment of IM, texts, phone calls, emails, DM’s, @Tweets.  But let’s not forget the value in focus.  Giving someone your attention shouldn’t be a rarity.

Backnoise vs Feedback

Each, back noise and feedback, is critical to the success of a brand and a storyteller.  “Back noise”, as a term, doesn’t exist in the “urban dictionary”.  But various forms of it do.  In effect, they mean feedback that is negative, unseen in the mainstream, or discussed and shared by a specific group.

Is this all bad?   Not if you’re the company “listening” to what is being said about you in websites, microblogs, forums, and in every social outlet there is.  And if you’re the brand who listens AND responds or adapts, you become master of controlling your social media messaging.  What you do with back noise is what matters.

But back noise is different than feedback. And luckily for the storyteller, feedback tends to be more courteous.  For example:

If a portion of a story hadn’t been captivating, the response from the crowd was unintended “silence”, and it’s a dreaded silence to the storyteller.  Feedback also included the smiles, the laughter, or the tears in response to the story itself.  Anonymity had nothing to do with this type of considerate interaction.  Each person at the festival was “anonymous” in that they didn’t wear name tags, and mostly knew but a few people there. They simply comported themselves with courtesy.

Social Responsibility

Companies have now- more than ever- a compelling reason to be engaged in social media.  The “town” is online and the community is thriving.  Best to be a part of the community.

But people, individuals, you and I, us- we also all have a responsibility.   Each of us as individuals has the distinction of being considerate to others.  If companies must listen, perhaps we need to also hold ourselves to this standard. At the festival, 95% of the story tellers’ content was good, but 100% of the audience gave instant, anonymous, direct feedback.  Not Back Noise.

Social Media: The WHY behind the WHAT

Why Social Media?  Social Techs Marketing

Recently, a colleague repeated to me and others a well known marketing mantra that stated something to the effect of “never have to educate a client.”  Well, in our discussion, I offered my opinion that most of my colleagues working in Social Media are experiencing something quite different.  Nearly half of my clients are not fully educated on Social Media.  It’s something they hear about, (what the “it” is actually varies in interpretation by client), and it’s something they think that perhaps they should be involved in since their kids are online, their spouses, CNN and other national and local news media advertise their social presence, and…why would anyone want to be left out?  It is at this point that I typically get the first email or phone call inquiring about how and whether social media can help the client’s business.

In response to my clients, I initially put together a brief on the most well known tools, explaining how everything is interconnected and how viral a great to good message can be when well executed.   Luckily for me, most of my clients have at least a Facebook account, so the learning curve is usually not  completely “from scratch.”  One of the most common tools from a commercial push, however, is Twitter.  And while Twitter is wonderful in its simplicity and usefulness, it’s less so in its sophistication.  The privacy guards that gave Facebook the advantage over MySpace present a bit of a challenge for the novice on Twitter.  In addition, the novice gets the medley of media commentary on the service.  The most recent comment I heard from a client repeated statistics such as X% of Twitter is reported to be nonsense…  without much reference or understanding of the value in the tool or the community.

In response to these valid perceptions, my Social Media brief includes the tactical and the practical.  The “practical” includes such things as, in relation to Twitter, warnings of unsolicitied followers, and in some cases, the nefarious intent of the followers.  In blunt terms, I warned them that yes, you may have porn sites following you.  Ignore it…

But what I want to focus on is truly the Community.  If it weren’t for Twitter, as an example, the ability for me to learn about people in a similar role, their interests, their skills, and new gadgets that are out in the social media and SEO space, would be hampered greatly.  (The Pull)  Since I no longer work in an office of thousands of people, Twitter has brought the thousands across hundreds of companies and practices to my very own “door step.”  I can learn from my colleagues in Australia, the UK, Canada, and right here in Atlanta.  I understand that the resources they “push” give me the very best of what they have to offer.

The same types of social skills that apply to success among people who know each other personally, whether in personal or in business relationships, apply to Social Media.  The #1 motivator in business is to “be in the know.”  Secondly, to be recognized.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and hundreds more social media tools allow these very same human desires to be satisfied–quickly and directly.  Blatant sales, just as in a direct physical interaction, don’t typically work.  But the mutual desire to benefit one another does.

So, to keep on recognizing and “motivating” your followers, Retweet, or “RT @” what someone tweets.   Make a note to someone on their wall on Facebook.  Tell a business that is on Twitter that you enjoyed their service.  Write a recommendation for someone on LinkedIn.  Who knows what may come of it?  Just as I thanked the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (@AtlantaSymphony) for putting on a wonderful show, they in-turn gave me a special offer via Twitter as a thank you.  Now THAT is customer service, and THAT is building community.  What did that do for the ASO?  Well, case in point, I am talking about the ASO (recognition) and just like in real life, away from the computer, I am thankful for their recognition and will remain a loyal customer who goes to see as many as their events as possible.