How to Protect Your Business (and Your Customers) When Using Social Media
Creating social media accounts for your business is a great way to attract new customers, as well as keep in touch with the customer base you already have. With over two billion social media users worldwide, it’s wise to set up social media pages at the very least, and possibly even wiser to pay for advertising on sites such as Facebook.
Regardless of whether or not you do decide to advertise on social media websites, you’re sure to find yourself with several new followers who just happened to stumble upon your business page while browsing through the site. Though getting the word out there about your business and acquiring a lot of followers on social media can be a great thing, the unfortunate part is that it could also attract hackers to your page.
Internet trolls frequent social media pages that tend to have a large following, and if your business is particularly successful, it may appear as a favorable target for them. Though sometimes these sort of people aren’t always hackers, they can bring some negative attention to your social media page and stir up some trouble. One of the main things you can do to protect your business on social media is to regularly monitor your page.
Unfortunately, even though monitoring your page frequently will help against those are just looking to spam your business page with derogatory comments, there is still a risk of encountering hackers or malware, which can cause issues for both your employees and your customers. Not to worry though; here are a few ways you can protect your business and customers when using social media.
Install Security Software
One of the wisest choices for anyone using the internet is to install and use security software. When it comes to protecting your business, you should have two programs installed on every device that is used to access your accounts or store any business related information. Both of the following programs can be used on multiple devices, so your business won’t ever have to go without security software again.
First, start off with an anti-virus program, which will protect your internet enabled devices from malware and hackers. Avast offers great anti-virus software for free, which will not only help your employees avoid phishing emails and other spam, but also work as a secure network so you can ensure that every computer used by your business remains protected.
Another important program to use is a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will encrypt your internet connection. Sometimes hackers use your internet connection as an access point, and when they do, they can literally spy on the majority of your online activities and snag your login details. This is why it’s extremely important to secure your connection with a VPN.
VPNs also hide your IP address, which is how others obtain your location information online. By connecting to a VPN, all of your internet traffic is routed through a remote server, making your IP address show as that of the VPN’s server instead of your own. Just as with anti-virus programs, there are many to choose from.
According to this review, ExpressVPN is the best choice when it comes to customer service, speed and overall security. Whichever VPN you decide on, your business is sure to be better protected online, even when you’re not managing its social media pages. VPNs protect your data and privacy any time you connect to the internet.
Only Use Strong Passwords
Passwords matter a lot; they keep unwanted visitors out of all of your accounts, both offline and online. But by creating weak passwords, you leave the personal information of your business and your customers at risk. Not only should you be changing your passwords every month or so and creating a unique password for each and every account, but you should be checking them to ensure that they’re strong.
In order to create a strong password, you’ll need to include the following:
- Uppercase and lowercase letters
- Symbols, whenever possible
- At least eight characters
When you use strong passwords, your business is far less likely to become the victim of brute force attacks, which can be especially devastating if you happen to use the same login details across multiple different websites or computers. It’s also wise to use a service, such as LastPass, so you don’t have to hand out your passwords to every employee that needs to access the business’ social media accounts.
For added security, consider keeping all of your important files (especially those that contain the personal information of your customers) in an encrypted and password protected folder. This way, if your devices are hacked, it’s less likely for your business’ important data to become compromised.
It’s wise to follow these password tips as often as possible, as anyone getting into your business’ social media accounts can quickly damage the reputation of your company by posting malicious hyperlinks on your page or messaging your customers in an attempt to obtain their banking information or passwords.
Train Your Employees In Netiquette
You’re probably already aware that posts on social media can go viral and spread quickly across the net. Because of this, it’s especially important that you either put a social media policy in place for your employees, or you simply train them on the topic of proper netiquette. If you’re not familiar with the term, netiquette is exactly what it sounds like: internet etiquette.
Ensure that your employees are aware of what sorts of things are appropriate to post on the social media page of your business. Consider writing out the social media posts in advance or monitor them regularly. Teach your employees to avoid discussing personal information with your customers over social media, as it puts your customers’ information at risk.
Just as it’s important that your business’ social media pages remain appropriate, it’s equally important that your employees use netiquette on their own pages as well, at least if they are listing your company as their employer on their social media accounts. Any bad behavior online by one of your employees, even when it’s not on your business’ page, can reflect poorly on your company if anyone decides to try to sabotage its reputation.
Before You Share…
Think twice before you post or share any information on social media. One post is all it takes to negatively impact your reputation, become a magnet for internet trolls or even put your customers at risk. Whenever you’re writing posts for your company’s social media pages, consider how it could affect both your business and your customers.
For example, it’s probably best to avoid sharing the full names of your customers and their locations on social media (using their display name is fine). What seems like a harmless post could end up causing some trouble for your customers (for example, maybe the customer whose location you shared really didn’t want that information publically announced). Overall, it’s best to keep the personal information to a minimum on social media websites in order to safeguard everyone’s data and identity.
Does your business currently use social media? How are you keeping your accounts safe?