KnowEm.com (formerly CheckUserNames.com) launched a new web service today which monitors hundreds of social media sites for social media identity theft, helping brands to secure their brand names within the hundreds of social media sites. By entering a username, which can be a brand name, Internet identity, or vanity URL, KnowEm.com allows users to instantly monitor the availability of that username on over 120 popular social media websites such as Twitter, Digg, Friendfeed and even Sphinn.
According to a release put out today for the KnowEm.com launch, a quick check using KnowEm.com reveals that some of the biggest brands in the world have still not secured their account name to protect their brand from identity theft, such as Google , Pepsi, Microsoft and Exxon.
Unlike a lot of the other “User Name Check” type services, KnowEm.com offers the ability to actually register branded usernames across the social media sites it covers and will also continue to monitor new websites and register usernames for its subscribers as soon as new social media sites launch. I had the chance to talk with KnowEm co-founder, Barry Wise, about the other differences on the tech and business side which differentiate KnowEm and also shows a smart business model.
Loren Baker of SEJ : Thanks for the interview Barry, please tell me a little bit about KnowEm
Barry Wise of KnowEm : Sure thing! We created KnowEm because we saw a need to protect brand names, and usernames, from Social Media Identity Theft. And KnowEm does just that – by checking for your name availability on the site, you can stake your claim on your brand name across over 100 different social media websites.
LB : So, CheckUserNames.com is now KnowEm … is there any difference in the services? What have you added that’s new?
Barry Wise : That is correct. The primary focus of the site is till the same – to provide a quick and easy (and free) way to check for the availability of your name across dozens of popular web communities. But KnowEm added something which CheckUserNames sorely lacked – an automated signup process.
Everyone liked the fact that CheckUserNames told you if your name was available, but no one wanted to click on over 100 signup links to create profiles on each site. So we created a commercial service which does it for you. We’re currently pricing it at $64.95, and for that price we’ll create 120 accounts for you on all the social media sites on our home page. In addition, for a monthly subscription price of $9.95/month, we’ll monitor all new site launches and create your username on them as well. We anticipate between 6 and 10 each month, but that number may grow.
LB : So for an easy, low payment, I can secure my brand name across many platforms. Does KnowEm check to make sure that it is not actually committing Social Media Identity theft itself? Like if Coke were to sign up to buy all of the Pepsi product names.
Barry Wise : Well, we can’t be a police force. But if we spot any clear violations, for example if someone signed up for Google’s brand name but listed the address as their mother’s basement in Arkansas, we will reject the signup. We also state in our Terms of Service that we reserve the right to refuse any obviously objectionable names, such as “BuyViagra” or something similar. Our service is a simply a convenience — think of us as a really cheap virtual private assistant creating account profiles for you. In the end, it is up to the website the account is being created on to review what information you gave them and determine whether or not you belong in their community.
LB : Why the name change? CheckUserNames to KnowEm.
Barry Wise : Because we plan to expand the services the site offers so that we do more than just usernames. We already have a user profile system so that users can sign up and stake the claim to their username on Knowem.com – you can see my profile at http://knowem.com/itcn. Eventually, we want to develop that further and make KnowEm a social media site in and of itself. We’ve got some pretty good ideas where we’re going with that, but we’re not ready to unveil any just yet :)
LB : Excellent, so KnowEm becoming a social media site on its own and the name registration and subscription service are key differentiation points between you and the other “User Name Check” sites out there. How does your technology differ? I hear other sites which are claiming to check usernames have massive errors.
Barry Wise : Yeah, after we launched CheckUserNames we saw a small crop of imitators pop up, but it seemed like most of them didn’t bother to do any quality control. The truth is, the technology isn’t rocket surgey, but running the site requires no small amount of manual effort. We have to make sure that the method we use to verify usernames remains stable and error-free. When you’ve got a list of 120 websites to monitor, it’s easy to start seeing reliability problems if you don’t remain vigilant and keep an eye on them. Other name check sites have no revenue stream, so they don’t care if their service is reliable or not. We care.
In fact, we’re one of a very, very small number of social media startups which have seen a profit from day one, and have a continued source of revenue in our subscription service. So we have quite a few reasons to care about the reliability of our service.
LB : So, this can really help with securing brand names across social media sites then. And it sounds like a small investment for a lot of service. Do you also offer the ability to upload content to the profiles?
Barry Wise : Yes, one of the main reasons for launching the site is to assist in protecting brand names from social media identity theft. Of course, plenty of people might simply like to protect their own name. I know a few people who would like to go back in time and secure myname.com before someone else registered it.
We offer the chance to do just that with the next generation of vanity URLs on social media sites. As far as uploading content, we currently have a signup form in which we ask for just about every conceivable piece of information each profile will ask for, such as name, address, birthdate, website, bio, interests, and more. We do our best to have all that information entered in each profile we create. After we complete the signup process, usually all that’s left for the customer to do is click a verification email.
LB : Great, thanks for your time Barry, and I’m sure our readers will enjoy using KnowEm.com
Barry Wise : Thank you Loren! Keep up the great work!