Control the Use of Your Name Online

In some uncomfortable hard-to-admit way, it seems that everything you pour into life, love and your startup comes down online to a .com or a .co or a .io. Domain names seem to carry so much weight. We sweat the procurement of the right .com, and fret if we have to put gosomething.com before the name we want, or have to add a .io when we don’t want to.

Is this worth it?

It may seem that by securing the necessary domain you are locking things down. The thing is, when you put your name online, you lose control anyway. People mention you on Twitter, call you out on Facebook, try to post comments on your blog feed. Does it make sense to try to maintain control of your name forever? I let the .com of my production company name go, and now when you go there, you are taken to Japan, to something that has nothing to do with me. I’ve written before about how my name, Lee Schneider, is common enough online so that Google Alerts are all but useless. I chose to become @docuguy on Twitter, just to to make it clear that it was me and not some guy in Boston.

Taylor Swift is buying up adult domains that use her name. She has taylorswift.porn for example, and controls a .adult domain naming her as well. Putting up a barbed wire fence around your name or taking it off the market can work, but we can’t do that everywhere, and not all the time.

Try this: If you can get the domain that expresses who you are, or is your name or your startup name, go for it. If you can’t, don’t sweat it. Adding go[name].com or my[name].com is perfectly ok. If you accept comments on your blog, moderate them. Turn comments off if you can’t. Watch your Facebook and Twitter feeds – it’s worth it to see what others are saying about you. If you or your brand are criticized online, respond quickly. If you are wrong, issue a correction. Stand by your convictions if you are right. If sounds obvious, but being open and responding in good time are the best way to protecting and honoring your name online.