by Carissa Siddell

December 1, 2022

Twitter is now considered the Wild West of social media platforms. Does anyone really know what is going on with the platform? No, not exactly, but we are all along for the ride to see if it will even exist when we wake up. Although Twitter seems to be gaining new users, others are leaving – and some are encountering challenges.

Looking back at the past couple of weeks, organizations like Eli Lilly have experienced detrimental issues on Twitter. This is largely due to Elon Musk’s new implementation of the subscription-based checkmark called Twitter Blue—a symbol that used to be for verification status. In the past, verification was only given to celebrities and recognized companies (think Pepsi, Kim Kardashian, etc.). With Musk’s new approach, any user can obtain a blue checkmark, but it comes with a price tag of $8 a month.

An average person seeking a status symbol would be excited for the opportunity to gain the checkmark next to their profile name. Others, however, consider the checkmark the ultimate troll tool. For example, Eli Lilly recently experienced a major crisis when an individual user claimed the Twitter handle, “EliLillyandCo.” The troll was able to secure this handle because Eli Lilly’s Twitter handle was “LillyPad,” thus leaving the actual company name open for anyone to claim. The troll went on to tweet falsehoods about making insulin free, which led to a downhill spiral in users engaging with the tweet because they thought it was an official announcement. That ultimately led to a plummet in Eli Lilly’s stock price.

Tweet by fake Eli Lilly profile announcing that insulin is free

To clarify and de-escalate the situation, the official Eli Lilly account had to make a statement that insulin was not free. As you can see below, Twitter has recently implemented a checkmark with “Official.”

Lilly statement about the incident

More fake accounts were made by users who were posing as Eli Lilly and making fake apology tweets (like “LillyPadCo” below). As you can imagine, this situation turned into a complete nightmare, which resulted in the decision by Eli Lilly and other corporations to pull their advertising from Twitter’s platform.

More fake Lilly account emerged

Twitter has learned from this snafu and is expected to tentatively launch Verified for Twitter Blue on December 2nd, according to Musk. New and old users will be asked to apply for the Twitter Blue verification. All profiles will be manually authenticated before the checkmark is activated. New profiles will have to wait 6 months from their creation dates to apply for verification. Musk also stated that profiles will have different colored checkmarks, instead of blue for every profile: “Gold check for companies, gray check for government, blue for individuals (celebrity or not).” The color variation will protect official profiles from impersonators.

Checkmark examples

Navigating your brand’s way through Musk’s Twitter can be complicated, but our three recommendations can help to protect your brand from a major crisis.

1. Reserve multiple iterations of your handle – Reserving multiple iterations of your handle can help you protect your brand from impersonators. You don’t need to pay for the $8 Twitter Blue verification for every iteration but owning those handles will help protect your brand from suffering an Eli Lilly crisis.

2. Set up monitoring – Setting up some form of monitoring for your mentions and notifications can help you catch these potential crises early. You can do manual daily scans or use a platform like Meltwater to help scrape in your mentions and ensure you are on top of your brand’s reputation.

3. Create a crisis plan – Nowadays, it is imperative to have some sort of crisis plan in place for your digital reputation. Designating a person or team early on to flag tweets and accounts, as well as release a statement if necessary, is vital to ensure any issues are taken care of in a timely and professional manner.

What happened to Eli Lilly was unfortunate, but it is a cautionary tale if your brand decides to reside on Twitter. Taking these three steps will help to protect your brand on Elon Musk’s uncertain social platform. If you have any questions about Twitter or just want to chat, drop me a line to get the conversation started.