There’s no question that social media is an ideal venue for marketing and sales. But along with the rewards come threats, due in part to the fundamental qualities of cyberspace: easy access, ambiguity, and global reach. Because the online world has seen little formal policing, it’s perfect for the “hijacking” of brands. Brands such as NBC News, Jeep, Burger King and USA Today have fallen victim to hacking, exposing the vulnerability of these platforms. While I cannot assure you that your social media accounts will not be hacked, here are some tips to minimize your brand’s risk of being victimized.
Use social media tools
HootSuite, an online brand management service, can provide your organization with the ability to allow multiple employees to monitor, engage and manage your accounts without giving them access to your social media sites’ passwords. HootSuite Teams allows you to control access to social networks and profiles, as well as change permissions any time to remain consistent with your business needs.
Implement a strong social media policy
If you haven’t already, develop a social media policy and review with your employees what is and is not appropriate to post online to ensure that you safeguard confidential information. Also, require employees to log into social media accounts via one computer rather than allowing them to access them from a public venue such as a hotel or conference center.
Are you in the know?
Keep up to date with warnings from news outlets about tactics employed by spammers and hackers. Never click on links that contain suspicious messages or that are from sources that you do not know. Consider setting up a Google Alert, utilizing keywords such as hacked, spammer or hijacked.
Enable two-factor authentication
Sites including Facebook and Google+ show your active sessions. As a general security precaution, you can enable these features to ensure no authorized person is logging into your accounts.
Change passwords often
A password should be hack-proof yet something that is simple enough to remember. Powerful passwords combine upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. Change the password as soon as an employee leaves the company or if you suspect that security has been compromised.
Have a contingency plan in place
It’s imperative that everyone on your team who manages or evaluates your brand’s social media accounts knows what to do if your account is hijacked. The plan should be in writing and reviewed with the staff quarterly.
S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.