Over the past few months there have been several cases of mistaken or deliberate concealment of identity and corporate brands. Not all misrepresentations have been malicious.  “Janet” pretended to be a representative of Exxon Mobile Corp, answering questions about the company’s position on things, the direction the company is heading etc.  (see http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/01/how-janet-fooled-the-twittersphere-shes-the-voice-of-exxon-mobil/).  More recently, there have been a flurry of Sarah Palin related nick names. (http://twitter.com/tw/search/users?q=Sarah+Palin).  My personal favorite is http://twitter.com/FakeSarahPalin, as the person behind the id is at least admitting he/she is a fake.

I understand individuals want the freedom to express their opinions, even if it is in a sarcastic way.  What I do not understand is why, if the opinion is valid, anyone would hide their true identity?  It also raises the bar on how diligent corporations (and famous people) need to be in monitoring their brand.

There are several tools you can use to monitor what is being said about you, your products, services and business:

Google News Alerts:   Set up a google news alert http://news.google.com/news for your name, your business name and any trademarked product or services you have.
Yahoo Alerts: http://alerts.yahoo.com/
Monitter:  A real time twitter monitoring tool.  You can enter in 3 keywords and watch the stream, http://monitter.com/
Other great twitter tools: Tweetdeck:  http://www.tweetdeck.com, Twittscoop: http://www.twitscoop.com/,
To monitor Blogs, set up a custom RSS at http://technorati.com,  & http://www.google.com/reader.

You have spent a great deal of time and effort creating your brand and your identity – don’t let it get damaged or diluted by not paying attention.