A rebrand is a long and involved process. It seems like there are a thousand tasks associated with a name change or logo update. For those businesses and organizations who are active and highly-visible on social media, great care must be taken to introduce a new brand to existing followers without alienating them.
Practically speaking, a rebrand carries with it different technical repercussions and ramifications depending on the social network. Some allow you complete control over all aspects of your account, while some are incredibly limiting in what you can change without having to start over from scratch - resulting in loss of followers, uploads and views. Here is a guide to rebranding your social media accounts in order to limit headaches and the loss of profile equity.
The Good News:
Accounts on the following social media networks can be rebranded with new vanity URLs without the loss of followers and other accrued metrics:
Twitter: Twitter will be one of your most painless rebrand tasks, provided the new desired username is available. Visit https://twitter.com/settings/account to change your username, then update your bio, avatar, header image and background. Your following/followers will remain unchanged.
If you know a rebrand is on the horizon, but you don't want to pull the trigger yet, simply register a new account under your new brand name. Then, when it's time to make the switch, change the new account to something new (a third username), and change your original account to the desired username that you were holding.
Google+: A Google+ page name can be changed at anytime without losing the following of those who have circled the page. However, there are a few details you should be aware of:
- If you haven't yet been invited to set a vanity URL, your page URL will remain unchanged.
- If you do have a vanity URL set ("plus.google.com/+brand-name"), it will revert back to the default-style URL (lots of nondescript numbers).
- If you have verified page status, you will lose it upon renaming the page. Luckily, you can simply reapply right away.
Pinterest: Page administrators have full control over their company name and username/URL at https://pinterest.com/settings. Watch out for the 15 character limit on usernames. If you aren't already operating a Pinterest Business Page, now is a good time to convert.
Foursquare: If you're managing a location page (not a personal account), you should have full control over all aspects of your business profile, including name, logo, description and address. Changing the vanity URL (username) is a bit tricky, however.
If you visit https://foursquare.com/settings while logged in as your business, you'll see a field towards the bottom labeled "Twitter Account." This field is also your Foursquare username if you've linked it to your Twitter account. Assuming they are linked, when you change your Twitter username your Foursquare username will also change, changing the vanity URL of your Foursquare page. Neat!
Vimeo: You'll find your Vimeo Channel URL settings here: https://vimeo.com/settings/profile
Instagram: Changing your username at https://instagram.com/accounts/edit will update your profile URL. You can update the rest of your information on this page as well.
The Bad News:
Feeling pretty good about the social rebrand so far? Pour yourself a drink because it's about to get rocky. You can plan on starting from scratch on the following social media networks:
Facebook: Facebook will likely be the biggest casualty of a full rebrand, as the name of your business/organization cannot be changed, nor can the vanity URL (username) associated with the page.
How To Deal: Once you've created your new page, let the fans of your old page know through regular status updates in the first few weeks after launch. It's a good idea to leave the old page up in tandem as the new page following grows. Your enemy here will be EdgeRank - the new page won't have near as much authority as your old page, so don't expect too many converts. Consider investing in Promoted Posts and Facebook Ads to get your content in front of a greater, targeted audience.
LinkedIn: Unfortunately, the company name and associated vanity URL cannot be changed.
How To Deal: Visit http://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show to create your new Company Page. Note that you will need an email address at the new company domain. All of your employees will need to update their personal profiles to reflect the name change. Be sure they format the company name in the exact way that the Company Page does, or their profiles will not link through to the new page. Consider running the old Company Page in tandem with the new until you've built a considerable following on the new page. As with Facebook, it will be difficult to migrate your old followers over.
A manual request for a Company Page name and URL change can be made here: http://help.linkedin.com/app/ask/path/cpur. Changes to company names can only be made by the LinkedIn Company Page team.
YouTube: Since YouTube won't allow you to change the Channel URL, it's likely that you'll have to start a new Channel from scratch. Though your videos can be archived and re-uploaded, you will lose view count, likes/dislikes, playlists, comments, friends and Channel subscribers.
How To Deal: First, archive all of your video files using Google Takeout. Next, manually archive your video titles, descriptions and keyword tags from the old Channel. Then, create a new Channel and re-upload your videos and paste your meta data into their corresponding videos on the new Channel. Prior to deleting the old Channel, visit the subscribers page of the old Channel while logged in as the new Channel, and subscribe to those users. Be sure to export any reports from YouTube Analytics that may be useful in the future.
Slideshare: Your Slideshare username can be changed. However, the public profile URL cannot be changed. This is likely a deal-breaker for businesses and organizations going through a full rebrand that includes a new brand name. Equity loss here includes views and followers.
How To Deal: Take an inventory of all of your uploads, then map and archive your titles, descriptions and tags for each. After deleting your profile, simply re-upload all of your files to the new account and paste in the meta data. Be sure to go back and follow all of the users you were following on the old account.
Flickr: Flickr users have spent years lobbying for the ability to change account usernames (which are reflected in photo stream URLs) with no luck. To add insult to injury, there is no efficient way of exporting/archiving your photos.
How To Deal: Pray Marissa Mayer makes Flickr awesome again.
One Word of Caution:
For those networks where your follower count will be reduced to zero: do not endlessly harass users who have not liked or followed your new page. Concentrate on sharing relevant, high-quality content while respecting the decisions of those who choose not to follow your new brand.
As with all tasks associated with a rebrand, updating all of your social media accounts should be approached delicately. Be diligent in identifying all of the networks you have profiles on, and updating or discarding them appropriately. Remember: there is no rule that states you need to be on every social network in existence, so use this opportunity to rethink your strategy and focus your efforts.
Looking for a few tips on optimizing your new social media profiles? Download our guide to Increasing Conversions with Social Media.