In a fast moving technological environment like today, it is extremely important to ensure your brand is well protected from a social media crisis. Risks such as cyber attacks or phishing are on the rise and they could cause a great deal of damage to your business.

We tuned in to Hootsuite’s webinar last week and took away a lot of knowledge and expertise to compliment our existing practices. Here’s how you too can protect your brand and prevent a social media crisis…

Candice Charleton named some considerations – here’s our take:

Main Security Considerations Online

1. Account Sprawl

It is important to regularly sprawl the internet for accounts representing your brand. These could range from employees accounts to those trying to impersonate you. It is particularly important to take down any impersonators before the damage is done.

2. Governance

Managing who has access to what and the extent of their permissions can effectively eliminate any costly errors.

3. Malicious Attacks

No account is without the risk of being compromised. Thousands of cyber attacks are happening every day and many of these could be via Facebook. Phishing URLs are often shared online or even on your Facebook page and opened in emails leading to the gain of personal information and passwords.

4. Technology

Without utilising technology, it’s almost impossible to keep your brand secure online. Tools such as Passpack can help with password management and simply contacting social networks can assist in the take down of malicious accounts.

Our suggestions based on Candice’s advice on combatting this include;

Strategies to Control and Prevent Social Media Risk

1. Centralise social channels and accounts

Ask yourself, “who is the trusted administrator?” and if you don’t have one – appoint one! This person would have responsibility for monitoring all of your social channels and ensure each and every account is on brand.

2. Protect passwords

It is important to use different passwords for each of your accounts, and make sure they’re a mixture of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Too many brands have obvious and guessable passwords! As previously mentioned, there are password management tools available to store passwords safely online so you don’t have to remember them all.

3. Message approval workflows and permissions

Put into place different levels of hierarchical permission. For example, ensure most employees don’t have publishing or messaging access to your social media accounts, whilst your social media team have full access. Make sure final publishing control is with the trusted account holder only. Tools such as Buffer can help with the scheduling of posts and limiting access to accounts directly.

4. Situational simulation

No matter how much caution you take when dealing with social media, there is always the chance of a crisis happening. The idea is to limit this chance so it is highly unlikely. Have a contingency plan in place in case the worst does happen. A crisis plan will allow you to react quickly and effectively when under attack such as a hack. Hands-on practice such as a role play with your employees could help you with this.

5. Educate and train employees

New products and software require training. Before granting access to any social scheduling tools ensure your employees know how they work and what is expected of them. Communicate and share your online best practices with others, exercising a ‘click with caution’ policy. Make staff aware of what a phishing URL might look like so they aren’t likely to fall for one.

6. Be aware of the landscape

Set up a Google Alert up for your brand, if you haven’t already, and set a reminder to check for this at regular periods. Not only will this help you keep an eye on any true online or media coverage, it should help flag many social imposter attacks.

Ali Cannavino named some risks below – here’s our take:

Risks out of your Control

1. Cyber attacks

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Attacks on the likes of Facebook as a whole are beyond your control. Be cautious with your own profiles when Facebook is under attack. If in doubt and you feel your account may be under threat, be sure to change your password, and set up secondary verification (e.g. mobile / text).

2. Brand impersonation

Again, accounts set up pretending to be you are beyond your control, however, you can request for fake profiles to be removed. This can be a lengthy process so ensure you are sprawling for these accounts regularly. Look out for those using a logo and a name to present themselves as somebody else – often the username is completely different and is a massive giveaway!

3. Sponsored posts

Just because it’s sponsored doesn’t mean its legitimate. Fake profiles often sponsor their posts on Facebook to reach the largest audience in as quick a time as possible. By the time Facebook finds out it could be too late…

The direct impact of the above risks often isn’t the problem. Malware can be removed. Data loss can be recovered and misinformation can be corrected. The indirect impacts such as time loss, revenue loss, stock value decrease, money loss and litigation cannot be recovered. True Lemon were unfortunately hacked leading to the loss of page fans and customers. Prevention is the only cure!

To summarise, social media can be hugely beneficial to a business but it doesn’t come without risks. In order to minimise those risks you should be regularly monitoring hashtags, employee accounts and business accounts. Once a fraudulent or account impersonator is identified a takedown must be issued right away. Quick action can be the saviour of your brand.