How to Manage Threats to Social Media Account Security
Stakeholder trust is a vital component of any organization, and you have no intentions of violating that trust, but there may be bad actors trying to disrupt these relationships. Some may even take advantage of stakeholders’ trust in you by impersonating your brand. Others do it unwittingly, without malicious intent.
So what can you do to limit these threats? The best way to deal with security threats is proactivity.
Don’t wait to get hacked before you take these preventative measures.
Identify Your Brand’s Social Media Footprint
Where does your brand show up across the web? How many social media accounts do you maintain? What communities are sharing your content? These are a few questions you should answer when gauging your brand’s footprint.
Social media audits are a great first step - you should only have accounts that you’re able to maintain. It’s a bad look when your last tweet is from two years ago.
Delete inactive accounts. Consolidate if needed. Facebook actually has a process for merging business Pages.
Clean up the “about” sections, bios, and make sure company information is updated and consistent throughout the web.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Almost all platforms now allow for two-factor authentication, which is a more secure way of logging in. It goes beyond your basic username and password and verifies your identity in a variety of other ways.
This extra step can be a text message to your phone, an email, a PIN, fingerprint, or code generated by a third-party app. Two-factor authentication is annoying at first, but worth it for the extra security.
Verify Your Accounts
Account verification lets your audience know which brand accounts to trust. This was made famous by Twitter’s blue checkmark, and other networks, like Facebook, use similar social media account verification methods.
Twitter used to allow anyone to request to have an account verified. They're changing that. According to Twitter, the blue verification mark was handed out too generously, and the general public now misunderstand this as a form of endorsement. The network is currently working on a new method and criteria.
Facebook is more straightforward - the easiest method by far is providing them a publicly listed phone number. The network will call that number immediately, and provide a 4-digit code for you to type in.
The alternative method is to upload an official business document - like a utility bill, articles of incorporation, or tax documents belonging to the organization.
Identify Brand Impersonators
Brand imposters are not always malicious. They may not all be the vicious trolls we think. In fact, some are your employees or event partners with good intentions. But no matter the reason, these accounts create brand confusion. Identify accounts committing brand infringement and begin the process of removing them from the network.
Different networks have different processes for this, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with them just in case. To effectively monitor brand mentions you’ll need a good system in place.
If the perpetrator turns out to be a friendly employee or partner, ask them to remove any branding. Following up is usually necessary before taking additional action. Once they’ve corrected the issue, you should pursue an alliance with them to advance your brand. They’re obviously passionate about your cause, you might gain an advocate.
If the impersonator is hostile, unresponsive, or the account presents harmful content, don’t wait to bring the hammer down. Keep any copyright or trademark identification handy when submitting brand infringement complaints.
According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, 52% of the public view employees as acceptable brand spokespeople. If you don’t educate your employees on social media security best practices, you could be playing from behind in 2018.
Implementing a social media policy is a good way to protect and educate at the same time.
Make This a Routine
Facebook recently opened up about fake accounts. In 2017, they estimated that up to 270 million accounts on their platform were fake or duplicated. While this raises concerns about the network’s integrity, it also means you should be more vigilant than ever.
Global social media usage increased 13% from January 2017 to January 2018, according to We Are Social - this means new accounts are created every day. As such, scanning social media for brand impersonators should not be a one-time project - you need an ongoing strategy to combat the issue.
Reassess your brand’s digital footprint monthly, quarterly, or every six months. Update your social media policy regularly, and present those changes to employees. Make key policy points part of the new employee on-boarding process. If you've been unsuccessful in verifying accounts, keep trying.
Foster stakeholder trust and instill confidence in your social media presence with these steps. Don’t wait for someone else to damage your reputation. Prepare now.
Follow Bo Breuklander on Twitter