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Social media offers many new opportunities for businesses to communicate directly to their clients, in ways that are personal, deep and “sticky.” Unfortunately, along with the benefits that social media brings come significant downsides if it’s ever abused. Because these separate channels can put a “face” on a brand or a company, it’s critical that security for social media accounts is handled properly so this public or semi-public exposure can be managed the right way.
A recent hack of the Twitter account belonging to McDonald’s Corp. gave this well-known brand a terrible public image for several days after an ill-advised political message was briefly made visible and was reported in the media. Fortunately for McDonald’s, the company got a handle on the situation quickly, so the effect of the inappropriate messaging was minimized. But there are some valuable lessons to be learned from this and other cases where similar events have occurred. Here are three major takeaways from these types of incidents that you can use in your own organization:
1. Don’t Allow Your Accounts to Be Compromised
The days of simple, easy-to-guess passwords (such as “password” or “football”) are long over; today, companies should be employing several different strategies to formulate secure passwords that can’t be cracked:
2. Be Sure to Send Messaging to the Right Account
Because employees can quickly switch back and forth between personal accounts and corporate accounts, it can be too simple for someone to accidentally post a message to the wrong account. This can be avoided by using entirely separate apps or browsers to post to each one. If you really want to be safe, use completely different devices for each type of account.
3. Take Care Who Is Handling Your Social Media
This is perhaps the weakest link in the chain because more trust is mandated than in the steps above. You’re never going to be able to monitor every employee’s behavior, but it’s crucial that all staff members and third parties that have access to your accounts can be trusted implicitly. Even taking this into consideration, there are still more steps you can take to prepare for the odd circumstance when someone breaches that trust:
This checklist should be in the run book of all your firm’s IT security procedures.
All of the above steps might seem a little onerous, but not following them can be much more costly, in terms of emergency headaches and public corporate embarrassment. There’s no excuse for poor security, and any incidents that could be avoided may put people’s jobs at risk. Being adequately prepared is one of the best defenses you can take for securing social media so it can be used safely, effectively and profitably.