I want to like Google. I really do.
But it is getting increasingly frustrating for both individuals and businesses to establish an online identity that is consistent across all platforms.
Let me explain my pain.
The I’s Have It
My name is Isaac Pigott. It has been since I was born. It will continue to be, unless I happen to witness a gangland murder, or stumble across evidence that forces me into the Witness Protection Program. (Which may be a fate worse than death for those who use social media.)
Years ago, while working in television, I was asked to change my name. It is far more common than you would know — but as it turns out, I was already well-known within the surrounding community, so there was no way they could touch the “Pigott” part (and we all know how unpleasant touching Pigott parts can be…).
However, it was not a stretch to get “Ike” out of “Isaac.” It was the opposite of a stretch — it was a punchier, friendlier-sounding name. I was told that I would be cashing Ike’s checks, so Ike I became.
At home, I am still Isaac.
On the phone with friends from school, I am Isaac.
When they phone rings and they ask for “Ike,” I know it’s someone from my post-1996 life.
So I am Isaac, but many, many more people know me as Ike. And that’s okay too, because the bank has never forced me to do a d/b/a.
Isaac and Ike are functionally equivalent, and lo and behold, I am the same person. However, since many more people are inclined to look for “Ike,” that is the name I use across my social profiles. I am ikepigott on Twitter, on Tumblr, on WordPress, on Blogger, on Facebook, and on a host of social networks that I don’t even talk about using.
So now Google comes along, and offers to simplify my life. I no longer have to tell people that I’m 116389048565881346695. No, I have been pre-approved for the following:
Google wants me to be Isaac Pigott. Which I am. But I want to be known as Ike. So here are my options:
Apparently, some people get more than one option.
I was concerned about clicking to accept “Isaac,” thinking I could later edit it and take another. It’s a good thing I didn’t, because it appears that Google will allow you to customize your capitalization only. So congratulations to JaSoN fALLs and JAY keLLy, your wishes have come true.
Organizations Still Suffer
Think it will be any easier on the brand and organizational side? Think again.
We have a YouTube channel for our company. Every few days when we log in, Google “helpfully suggests” that maybe we could connect with more people if we used a real, personal name. The name of the person who created the account.
- Because, you know, when sharing information about renewable energy and energy efficiency, you want to turn to the name of a person you’ve never heard of.
- Because, you know, when people are looking for a video tutorial on sharing calendars in Outlook 2013, they want to hear it straight from Steve Ballmer.
- Because, you know, when looking for breaking news on stupid things people have done on Twitter, they would never think about looking for @Mashable, because @PeteCashmore makes more sense.
What makes matters worse is that Google appears to be changing the wording and the defaults and the button placement for the pop-up box that “invites” me to convert my company to somebody’s actual name. And there is no going back.
This is all to be expected. If Google is going to make hay with Authorship as the new coin of the realm in this brave new world of Content!, then you need to connect the dots of the various Joneses and Smiths out there. But there are serious implications for branding when you’re now stuck with the name and face of a real person who might or might not be with your company tomorrow. When that person leaves, do they get your whole channel?
This is madness. And it being Google, there is a wonderful resource available. Just dive into the Google Groups, where you can find hundreds of people whose similar questions have also not been answered.
Is there a workaround that does not involve a massive advertising buy with Google, to get you an actual name on the inside?