These days, everyone is on social media, and customers expect you to be too. No matter what industry you’re in, if you don’t have a social media presence, you may not be visible or accessible to a large proportion of potential customers. However, once you’re up and running, a worrying issue that social media managers increasingly face is security.
It’s not enough to assume, “I’m not big enough; nobody would bother to hack me.” Hackers will try to get into anyone’s accounts, whether you’re an individual, small business or global corporation. Many do it for sport as much any financial gain they might achieve. It’s always better to be safe than sorry where your social media accounts are concerned, as bad PR created by a hacker, posting unsavoury updates on your accounts, can be hard to undo. To help you keep your social media channels safe from hackers, here are 4 simple steps to follow:
1. Create a secure password
Using your own name, date of birth, “password” or “123456” as your password on social media is a bad idea. To be as secure as possible, you should have a different password for each social media account. The password itself should be made up of 8 or more characters and include upper and lower-case letters, as well as symbols and numbers. Remember, don’t write your passwords down and don’t share them with anyone else. Of course, with a team of marketers or even an external agency managing your social media accounts, this can become tricky. However, you can limit the number of people your password is shared with, or give access to your social channels through tools such as HootSuite.
2. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
This may sound technical, but it’s very simple. All it means is that you need more than just your password to get into your social media account, so you have an additional level of security. In most cases, it will mean entering a verification code that is texted to your mobile. You may already use two-factor authentication when accessing your Internet banking, where they send a code to your registered mobile number before allowing you to access your account. To set up two-factor authentication for your social media channels, follow these support articles from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Instagram doesn’t have 2FA right now, but it looks like it’s in the pipeline.
3. Check your applications
There are numerous different applications and services available out there which allow you to schedule and manage your social media accounts. They will require you to grant permissions on your social media accounts, and this means that if they are hacked, the hacker could have access to your social media accounts as well. Of course, these tools can be extremely useful, so we’re not suggesting you don’t use them. However, be careful about which ones you try. Also, if you stop using a service, make sure you go to your settings (in your social media accounts) and the apps/permissions section to remove the old app’s permissions.
4. Change passwords regularly
We’ve already mentioned the importance of creating secure passwords, but it’s also important to change them regularly. Although this may sound like a nuisance, it’s unfortunately necessary these days. There seem to be hacking scandals in the news on a regular basis, with even high profile people like Mark Zuckerberg falling victim to these attacks. It was also only a couple of months ago that the Netflix US Twitter account was compromised. If you’re still using the same password you used to set up your social media account six years ago, there’s more chance that someone else has managed to get hold of it. Therefore, make sure you change your passwords regularly and don’t recycle old ones.
The security of your social media accounts is very important. If your social media is hacked, you could find that you lose all your content and followers overnight. You may also find that your brand is irreparably damaged by being hacked, so it’s best to do everything you can to avoid that happening.
About the author
Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She is a Freelance Social Media Consultant with several years of experience in her field. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Harmon.