How to Effectively Rebrand Your Social Media Profiles

social media how toHas your business changed since you first created your social media profiles?

Are you considering a rebrand of your company’s existing social identity?

With the right preparation, it’s possible to manage your social media rebranding efforts without losing a significant number of subscribers along the way.

Should You Rebrand Your Social Profiles?

Before we review the process of rebranding your social media profiles, consider whether a rebranding is truly right for your company.

According to Luke Brassinga of Likeable Brands, “True rebranding involves updating a company’s goals, message and culture.”

branding

Your social networking profile branding plays a major role in your company's online image. Image source: iStockPhoto.

If you’re only conducting a rebrand because you like the sound of a new name better, your end results may not be worth the extra effort and potential for losses involved in the rebranding process.

As a result, rebranding is best suited for companies that are:

  • Changing their overall structure (perhaps as the result of a merger or acquisition).
  • Substantially diversifying their product offerings (to the point where the existing identity is no longer applicable).
  • Addressing business aspects that are outdated or failed.

If you’re approaching the rebranding process for one of these reasons, then here’s what you need to do to rebrand your social media profiles.

Step #1: Do Your Due Diligence

When Netflix first announced its ill-fated rebranding to split the Netflix and Qwikster services, it quickly became apparent that one vital element of the due-diligence process had been glossed over.

Because the company had failed to secure the “@Qwikster” username on Twitter, the handle was snatched up by a user who flooded his feed with images of a beloved children’s character making use of illicit substances.

jason castillo

Netflix quickly scrapped the launch of the DVD-only service Qwikster in the face of negative publicity.

To avoid similar missteps that may tarnish your brand’s reputation, carry out the following tasks before even hinting to your audience about the potential for a rebranding:

  • Secure the .com version of your new brand name’s URL.
  • Make sure that the Twitter handle you want associated with your new brand is still available.
  • Run focus groups with existing customers to uncover any hidden issues with your proposed rebranding.

Be sure you take the time to carry out this research before you roll out your full rebranding campaign. This will prevent (or at least minimize) the potential for gaffes that could derail your future marketing efforts.

Step #2: Understand Social Network Limitations

As you prepare for rebranding, there are some limitations that restrict your ability to change profile information. While these restrictions shouldn’t affect your ultimate ability to rebrand your social media profiles, you’ll want to account for them before you begin undertaking the change process.

Facebook—currently, Facebook does not allow page owners to change the names of their pages once they’ve accrued 200 likes, in order to prevent the buying and selling of Facebook fans.

While the recommended solution is to simply create a new page and encourage existing followers to like your new page, some users have reported reaching contacts within Facebook’s customer support system who have changed brand names manually in legitimate rebranding scenarios.

Your results may vary, but be aware that asking fans to like a new page will result in fan losses.

change username

To change your Facebook page name, simply erase the information found in the Name field and enter your new branding.

Twitter—changing your username and profile information within Twitter is quite easy. You log into your profile and navigate to the Settings area. Your first step will be to change the current username listed in your account to your desired handle (assuming it’s available) and click Save changes:

rebrand on twitter

Rebranding your account on Twitter is an easy process.

Next, navigate to your Profile section to update your Twitter image, name, bio and URL:

profile section

Make sure all possible Twitter profile fields reflect your new brand.

Making these changes will disseminate your rebranded information across your profile automatically.

You’ll still want to conduct an outreach campaign to educate followers on why these changes have occurred and what your new brand represents.

YouTube—while YouTube doesn’t allow users to change their registered usernames, it is possible to create vanity URLs that effectively “mask” an old channel’s content to display at a rebranded URL.

For complete instructions on how to carry out this process, take a look at the video below:

LinkedIn—finally, while there are no issues changing your personal LinkedIn profile, the rebranding process becomes more complicated when it comes to LinkedIn Groups and Company Pages.

As of now, Group identities can only be changed five times, though this restriction applies to both changing your Group name and Group logo. To prevent complications, have your Group logo ready to go before changing your Group name in order to minimize the number of changes needed in the rebranding process.

In addition, LinkedIn Company pages can only be changed by contacting the LinkedIn Help Center directly.

rebranding linkedin page

Rebranding your LinkedIn Company page is an important part of maintaining a consistent digital presence.

You’ll need to provide details on the reason behind the change, as well as confirm that you own both the current account and new branded identity.

Once this process is completed, you’ll also want to go through your updated page to ensure that any references to your old identity are removed.

Step #3: Communicate Clearly to Your Customers

Besides managing these technical concerns, customer communications should remain a top priority throughout the rebranding process.

Make sure that all of the following elements play a part in your communications strategy:

  • Create a video explaining the reasoning behind your rebranding—knowing why a company is changing its image may make the transition easier to swallow for some customers.
  • Make it very clear what is and is not changing—Netflix failed to immediately announce that it was changing not just its image, but the login process required to request videos as well, and the public outcry was swift. Avoid this mistake and confirm up front what the transition means for your customers.
  • Communicate using as many formats as possible—informed customers are happier customers, so publish communications regarding your rebranding on your blog, your social media profiles, your email newsletter and any other web property your customers frequent.

Good customer communication is the key to an effective rebranding. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Don’t expect that your customers will be on board with your rebranding process initially. Most people are naturally resistant to change and will view your transition with everything from fear to skepticism to anger.

However, by clearly communicating from the get-go, you’ll ensure the process is carried out in the appropriate order and you’ll minimize the impact of lost customers and goodwill as you rebrand your image.

What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions on how to rebrand your business on your social media profiles? Please leave your questions and comments below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, AJ Kumar

AJ Kumar is co-founder of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency based in San Francisco. Single Grain specializes in helping startups and larger companies with search engine optimization, ppc, and social media strategies. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great ideas for companies planning to re-brand, AJ. It’s already difficult enough to gain fans on Facebook, but to actually ask them to like a new page will be more tedious especially since Facebook has imposed a limit on the number of fans who will be able to view your post. Although, creating an advert or promoting the post will probably do the trick.
    Have a wonderful Monday everyone! Let’s keep rockin! 

  • http://GlobalBizToday.com/ Iman

    Both Facebook and Twitter are must tools for any businesses in building brand awareness and also good relationship with customers and in long term.

  • http://www.premierdesignwebsites.com Theresa Wagar

    Great discussion.  Most companies have setup their social media piece by piece without a thought to branding.  Great recommendation to take a look at social media as a whole and brand it along with your website.

  • Jonni Bailey

    I would add… make sure everyone in your company is on board and understands the new brand message so they too can support the change internally and externally.

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  • Regina Meeks

    any ideas on how quickly to put your new logos/images into the social spaces? we have a web redesign happening that may not be complete in time for our official new brand launch. should we move forward with the social spaces anyway or wait for the website to be done? we are thinking we should space out the updating of our social spaces just to have more info to market for a longer period of time as we bring in our new branding.

  • Mostafa Ideas

    In winter we can rebranding our mood and it will be working better nice post frankly thank u

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    Hey AJ,

    I love all the how-to instruction you’ve set up in here. It’s very nice to see content that not only tells you what to do, but also how to it.

    In reference to what you said in this part of the post . . .

    “However, by clearly communicating from the get-go, you’ll ensure the process is carried out in the appropriate order and you’ll minimize the impact of lost customers and goodwill as you rebrand your image.”

    I think one of the major keys to focus on when updating your profiles is to help the customers see why the changes you’re making will benefit them. Especially if the changes are drastic.

    Tony Robbins when talking about our innate desire for both certainty and un-certainty/surprise, he asks his audience of thousands of people to raise their hands if they like surprises. Every hand goes up. He then tells them, “B.S. You only like GOOD surprises. You don’t like the bad ones like getting audited, getting a flat tire, or getting pulled over by the cops.”

    If you help your customers see that your re-branding effort is a surprise they’re going to enjoy and that it is going to make their life better (If it isn’t, you want to seriously question why you’re doing it), one that that will enhance their experiences with you and how impressive they appear to other people, then I trust they will rally with you.

    If you don’t think so, look at how lathered up people get about the process of remodeling homes, cosmetic surgery, or make overs. What is inherent in these beloved rituals of ours that we’re so in love with is that they’re always done in the spirit of making things BETTER – making the end user either more attractive in the eyes of others or more envied by others or both.

    It’s hard for many people in business to swallow the hard truth that it’s not about us. The process of asking someone for money should put your ego on the back burner. If you help your customer see that you have them in mind when you’re evolving your position, that you’ve at least considered them, I believe they’ll fsupport you rather than be freaked out and feel left behind.

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  • http://pieterdom.com/ Pieter

    Attention! Step #2, Twitter: After you’ve changed your username, don’t forget to create a NEW Twitter account with your OLD username, and announce your NEW username right there. Anyone following old referrals will see that message.

  • http://twitter.com/CindyVazzy Cindy Eliza Vaz

    Hi guys, 

    Facebook now allows company to change the vanity URL and company name ONCE. 

    (-:

    Best,
    Cindy

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Thanks John.  I know it’s frustrating for business owners to jump through the hoops that Facebook has put in place (on top of the cutbacks in total post views), but hopefully this will also discourage companies from undertaking rebrandings unnecessarily.  Total rebranding is something that definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly!

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Thanks Theresa.  You’re definitely right that all of the activities described above need to be tied to ongoing branding efforts – whether at the start of any social media marketing campaigns or as part of an overall rebranding.

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Great point, Jonni.  Even employees that aren’t directly responsible for updating a company’s social media profiles need to understand both the new terminology to use and why it’s so important to get on board.

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Regina – That’s tough to say without knowing the specifics of your company’s situation.  How big of a gap do you anticipate there being between your brand launch and the website redesign?  If the gap is small, the disparity might not seem noticeable, but leaving an old site up for too long after a new brand has been announced could reflect poorly on your company.  At the same time, for consistency’s sake, I wouldn’t update one social profile and not the others, to minimize confusion for brand followers.

    One option to consider might be using your social profiles to post teasers and announcements regarding the rebranding (for example, “Big changes coming next month!”) and holding off on your official new brand launch until your web properties can be updated together.

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Thanks for reading, Mostafa!

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Very well said, Lewis.  This post deals mostly with the specifics of updating social media profiles as part of a rebranding, but there’s a lot more to consider when prepping your customer base for the transition.  Just take a look at how Netflix goofed up the process to see how important it is to explain both the reasons for your rebranding and how it will affect your customers!

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Great point, Pieter!  Thanks for sharing this :)

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Cindy, that’s correct, but you’re also only able to change it if you’ve received fewer than 200 “Likes.”  If you’ve passed this threshold, you may not be able to change your Page name – even if you haven’t done so before.  Thanks for your comment!

  • http://www.businessgatewayinc.com/ Helena Zwarts

    Great read! 

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  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Thanks so much, Helena.

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  • http://twitter.com/jenhames Jen Hames

    Some really great points here. Too often, small businesses think that rebranding is as simple as a new name & logo, and forget about the efforts they’ve put into their social media marketing. I’ve also seen businesses who started a new Facebook page, put the new link on their old page, and still have the old page active after a year or longer. If unable (or unaware of how to) rebrand your existing profiles, at some point, you need to tie up all of the loose ends of the old identity, or else your old brand may actually become online competition with the new.

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  • http://www.callbox.com.sg/ Jayden Chu

    These are the best ways for getting the brand message out to the target audience. I agree with step # 3. Leverage status update, profile messages and taglines as a way to effectively what potential entrepreneur would want to know.

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  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Definitely agree.  Rebranding isn’t something that should be taken lightly – it’s a process that must be managed effectively in order to be successful.  Hopefully it’s not something that small businesses will need to do often (if ever), but it’s worth being aware of what goes into carrying out the process well for future reference.  Thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/ajkumar AJ Kumar

    Thanks for reading, Jayden – glad you found the article useful.

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  • Geri

    I am in a real pickle here. We have been issued a “cease and desist” order from a very nasty lawyer demanding that we take down our website TODAY due to trademark infringement. Our names are similar enough that they are jumping up and down. We are rebranding in order to comply and my next step is going to be tackling how to keep our 1300 likes on our page. I will request manually that Facebook allow us to change our name, but I think I understand that we cannot change the vanity URL — so it may be that we have to start all over.   What a  terrible mess for my client. AND the lawyer is also demanding that we gift them the domain name. They should look at how many iterations of the name are still available at GoDaddy. Or perhaps that’s what keeps them in business — waiting for people to buy the domains, put up a site, and then sue over it. Interestingly,  their own Facebook page only has 400 likes. 

    I will let you know how it goes with Facebook.

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  • Cindyelizavaz

     Hi AJ,

    That’s not true. Even if you have more than 200 ‘Likes’, you CAN change the Vanity URL. Facebook has opened it up and you will be able to change it only once. I have tried this on a page with 800+ likes. :)

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  • Jdusina

    How about Linkedin? Is there a way to change a company name there too? Thanks!

  • charlene

    Social Media Examiner has proven to be an invaluable resource for all things social media. The info is always relevant, user friendly and accurate making me consider things i didn’t before. Thx a million!

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