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Five Ways to Defuse a Twitter Parody of Your Business

Twitter parodies know no bounds.  In addition to celebrities and politicians, businesses are victimized, too. A Twitter parody of your business poses a threat because it can damage the brand you’ve worked to cultivate.

Twitter is the virtual handshake and meeting place for businesses aiming to create a solid first impression and maintain positive working relationships. Though Twitter suspends or requests changes to accounts “found to be deceptive or misleading,” handles clearly marked as parody tweet with impunity.

Here’s a few dos and don’ts for handling a Twitter parody of your business:

1.    Holster the heavy hand

Making the decision to report an inappropriate parody to Twitter could result in unexpected backlash. Video game-maker Lionhead Studios discovered just that in late 2011 after a prankster parodied one of its game developers.

In a two-week span, the company saw its peak positive mentions on Twitter while the parody was live, according to a Brandwatch analysis. As news spread of the parody’s suspension, Lionhead saw its highest total of negative mentions about a week later.

Brandwatch suggests researching just how much impact the Twitter parody has on your business before taking action.

2.    Don’t confront the parody

Like the professional athlete who tells a heckler to shut up, engaging a parody Twitter account can escalate the issue. Zach Green writes from experience for 140 Elect in recommending the best course as a passive one.

Zach wrote that he created the Twitter handle @MittRmoney, not to be confused with @MittRomney, in January. In July, the presidential nominee’s official account promoted one of the parody’s tweets. In doing so, it showed its presence and at the same time brushed it off.

3.    Own your brand

You work hard to market your business, so dedicate time to preventing people from sabotaging it.  Snag your company’s Twitter handle and variations of it before some clown does, says Social Media Today. (Seriously, if your business doesn’t have a Twitter account, read this and make one right now.)

4. Monitor and embrace the parody

The First Amendment guarantees free speech. Parody, including that from Twitter accounts, falls under the free speech umbrella. Though the subjects of parody have little to no legal recourse, they don’t need to concede themselves as punching bags. As eMedia Law Insider points out, acknowledging and embracing parody can generate goodwill for the victim of the joke.

5.    Turn a negative into a positive

Getting honest, no-holds-barred opinions is valuable for any business. The blog Buffer urges businesses to “mine the gold” when receiving negative Twitter criticism. The information applies to parodies because the root of humor is truth. Push past the outlandish stuff and find nuggets of truth. Then, get the last laugh by using that information to improve your business.

Parody Twitter accounts aren’t just a nuisance. They’re a lesson. Using the humor that makes parodies popular, Platform Magazine says, can grow your Twitter influence. Coca Cola, for example, developed a Twitter account for its long-deceased inventor Doc Pemberton that employs humor to promote its product.

Have you ever had a Twitter parody of your business? If so, how’d you deal with it?

For more insight on mastering Twitter, download a recorded version of our webinar with Mark Schaefer: Twitter Power in One Hour.

Photo: JoshSeman (Creative Commons)

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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