Things You Should Know: Brandjacking

 

Welcome to Things You Should Know, our new ongoing series on Millennial-fueled trends, slang, and memes that will keep you up-to-date on everything happening in youth culture. 

Last week, media organizations began to report that online vigilante group Anonymous had hacked Westboro Baptist Church’s Facebook page after the church announced they would be picketing the funerals of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. But the truth soon came to light: Westboro had never had ownership over the page at all; Anonymous had started the fake page themselves months before. Westboro had been brandjacked.

The term brandjacking has been in use since around 2007, when it was used in an article in Businessweek describing the new problems that corporations were facing protecting their reputations online from “cybersquatters,” individuals using unauthorized trademarked name or phrase in a domain name. These days the practice of brandjacking has become much more complicated. Brands’ reputations online are as vulnerable as consumers’—perhaps more so because they are bigger more alluring targets with more public failings. And because brands don't have emotions or feelings, to Millennials don't see it as bullying. For this generation, trusting what they read online is already a dubious process, and with brandjacking becoming more common, the veracity of every brand message, profile, and campaign is up for questioning. In an era of catfishing and profile hacking, brands are not above having their identities stolen, and brandjacking is taking on many forms.

The Social Media Brandjack: Perhaps the most common form of brandjacking is a fake social media profile for a brand being set up in order to mess with that brand’s reputation. In the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill, a Twitter feed under the handle…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “When a brand can adapt to all shoppers, it makes me trust them more.”

—Female, 24, MI

A startup is leveraging angry tweets to let brands find new consumers, and engineer some incredibly personalized marketing. Customer service listening tool SocialRank Realtime allows brands to view a dashboard of tweets from consumers “who might be fans of theirs in the future.” For example, after viewing a tweet from a potential consumer about a flight delay, an airport restaurant might send over a cup of coffee to their location. The tool touts its ability to let brands to create “real relationships” with consumers and has already signed on Juicy Couture and Aéropostale. (Business Insider)  

Teens are watching influencers on YouTube, but what are the teen influencers watching? According to an Influenster survey of 14-51-year-old “tastemaker consumers,” 93% of 14-18-year-old influencers are watching product reviews—compared to 86% of overall respondents. Haul videos came in next in popularity at 76% (24% more than overall), followed by unboxing videos at 71% (19% more than overall). Seven in ten teen influencers are also watching YouTube videos at least once a day, and 42% say they can watch between six to 15 per sitting. (eMarketer

Pokémon Go is still going. The revolutionary game, which attracted 500 million users in eight weeks last summer, has made an estimated $1 billion in the last seven months and reports “a very large level” of users. The second version of the game will soon be released, with 80 new monsters to catch—which is good news for brands. According to the CEO of Niantic Labs, the game will soon be integrating ads that fit in organically to the platform, and the game’s partnership with Starbucks on a Pokémon Go beverage “opened a lot of people’s eyes to start imagining other cool things that you can do.” (Adweek

Wattpad is the latest company getting into storytelling via text messages. The social publishing platform has launched mobile app Tap, where readers can discover “chat-style” stories across genres like horror, romance, drama and more. Although fiction app Hooked and kid-targeted Amazon Rapids takes a similar approach, Tap is the only one that takes a “voyeuristic” angle, giving readers the feeling that they’re reading through someone else’s chat messages—a move that can appeal to teenagers and young adults. (TechCrunch

Nordstrom is going above and beyond the “typical department store” offerings to reach young consumers. Earlier this week, the retailer launched the Lab—an incubator venture that showcases indie, new designers with “completely different audiences, messages, and points of view.” Each season will bring a new crop of designers, and according to the retailer, new stories: “It's the full package — who is the designer, what is their story, what do they stand for, why are they doing what they are doing, who is it for. There’s an authenticity [in that].” (Racked

Quote of the Day: “For my engagement ring, I want a tattoo. No ring.”—Female, 30, AZ

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