How Not to Manage Your Online Brand: McCain and Social Media

It’s been pretty easy for techies to bash John McCain. He’s from a different time and has lived his life without much need for the internet or social networking. You can’t really blame him: I’ll be uneasy about flying cars for the first few years they’re available, even though my (grand)kids will zip around no problem.

But part of running for president is creating a brand, and (like any policy issue) McCain should have recognized his weakness and surrounded himself with people who know better.

He didn’t.

McCain’s online team completely ignores Web 2.0, opening the door for web-savvy early adopters to destroy his brand.

Pranksters have beaten Team McCain to the punch by pre-registering the candidate’s profile on every major social media site. Some squatters leave the profiles alone, while others have done irreparable harm to his brand.

Just like www.yourbrand.com is your territory on the web, the brand’s username on social media sites is your outpost to the users of those services. Users that are typically young, educated, and relatively wealthy.

The McCain brand is not owned by the campaign in any of the following cases, missing the opportunity to connect with over 11 million users:

StumbleUpon

Perhaps the most damaging social media profile to the McCain brand is johnmccain.stumbleupon.com. A rogue user registered the domain name, and uses all of the tools available to a stumbler to satirize Campaign McCain.

Here is the user information that appears at the top of his profile page:

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A stumbler has the option to tag pages they like, and display the most popular tags on their profile page. Here are the tags JohnMcCain has used:

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This user is the face of John McCain on StumbleUpon.

Twitter

The Twitter user who registered the username JohnMcCain took a couple shots at the candidate, then apparently moved on to better things.

The latest message from JohnMcCain on Twitter:

Although it’s not the most damaging message, it is most definitely not the image Campaign McCain wants to project.

Digg

Although the Digg profile registered to “JohnMcCain” takes no verbal shots at the candidate, the profile picture is less than flattering:

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In all of these cases, the team responsible for reversing McCain’s image has done the opposite. They have instead damaged his brand by letting others control their message in social media.

How many of your brand’s social profiles belong to you?

(P.S. The JohnMcCain username is still available on Mixx and Delicious if you’re feeling mischievous 🙂