Illustrating the need for brands to reserve their Twitter name early is the case of Natalie Westerman from Newcastle upon Tyne who tweets under the name @natwest “natwestnotthebank”. Predictably her stream has been inundated by calls for help from amongst the millions of Natwest’s unhappy customers stranded, jailed and starved by the bank’s recent data outage.
She had been handling it with cheerful benevolence and redirecting irate customers to the banks real Twitter account @natwest_help. And although she has had some good conversations with the bank (as well as, it seems, pretty much all of the UK news media), she has told us they are not looking to take @natwest from her.
Natalie has had the account name since before banks were using Twitter: this wasn’t a quick landgrab. But the bank was really extraordinarily fortunate that she is so good humoured: she has been responding politely to customers who, thinking it was the bank’s Twitter account, have been pretty aggressive towards her. Imagine how much worse it would have been for Natwest had Natalie responded in kind instead of telling people of their mistake and redirecting them. You can see the headline: “Troubled Bank Tells Unhappy Customers to Eff Off”
What should the bank do? And what will Natalie do? Well, when I checked her account yesterday, she was just riding out out and didn’t seem to want to change her account name. Today however, https://twitter.com/#!/natwest doesn’t exist.
Is Twitter glitching? Has Natalie been abducted by aliens? Caved in and decided she can’t take the heat any more? Or …. will @natwest reappear in a few days as a customer service account for Natwest? My money’s on the latter. What a wake up call for all organisations. Even if you don’t foresee a time when you’ll need to use the social media channels, register your company name anyway across the board - look on it as insurance. To help you see where you – or someone else – already have taken the names, here’s a useful site: http://checkusernames.com .