As the social media manager for your organization, you control your brand’s image and message online for the world to see. And while social media can be an extremely effective medium for reaching your target audience, any mistakes made online –whether they’re your fault or not – can cause an immediate PR nightmare.
For digital marketers, it’s more important than ever to protect your company’s reputation.
However, hacking can happen to anyone. Even for large organizations with complex security systems and firewalls, hackers can still manage to wreak havoc. Just look at the recent downfall of Mt. Gox, a Japanese Bitcoin exchange, due to hacking. On social media, CNN’s Twitter and Facebook accounts fell victim to hackers of the Syrian Electronic Army.
So, what’s the best way of dealing with hacking before it happens to you?
1. Secure passwords
Having secure and unique passwords to all your social media accounts – just like your personal banking accounts – is critical is protecting your organization’s brand reputation online. Whenever you’re on an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, such as a coffee shop or airport’s wireless network, hackers have a better chance of getting your information. Creating strong and unique passwords will at least deter them from seeing you as an easy target.
What to use in a unique password
- Capital and lowercase letters
- Symbols (e.g. $, #, !, *)
- Pet’s name
- Social Security number
- Mother’s maiden name
- Children’s names
- Your name or your spouse’s name
What NOT to use when creating a password
Be mindful not to use the same password for every social media account you manage. Should a hacker gain access to one, they would have the ability to hack into all of your accounts as well.
2. Avoid opening or clicking on links that look suspicious
Similar to getting fraudulent or malicious links on your personal social media accounts, the same can happen to the brand you manage. A few rules to help you avoid clicking on links or opening a message that might help a hacker gain access to your account:
- Do not click on links from senders you do not know
- Do not respond to emails from the social media platform saying your account will be shut down if you do not provide your access information
- Do not open emails with obvious grammatical errors or poor spelling. Similar to email scams about a Nigerian prince willing to give you millions if you send him a few hundred dollars, the same messages can lure in unsuspecting social media managers.
3. Protect your hardware with the right software
In the digital age, having software that detects viruses and spyware is a must-have for all your web-enabled devices – especially the ones you use for social media. Reliable antivirus software can prevent you from an attack, as well as warn you if someone has already gained access to your information.
Protection software, such as Kaspersky, works on both Windows and Mac operating systems and can be loaded onto your computers, tablets and smartphones. Bitdefender, another antivirus product, offers SafegoTM filters to block online threats that you may receive from Facebook friends whose accounts have been hacked.
Michelle Marcantonio is a freelance writer. She enjoys writing about social media and branding related topics. Michelle welcomes your feedback via email.