6 ways to protect your brand from social media hackers

As recent history has shown us, hackers can critically damage your brand. Use these tips to beef up your passwords and stay on guard.

Both the Burger King and Jeep Twitter accounts were hacked in recent months. In both cases, the hackers posted that the companies had been sold to their competitors (Burger King to McDonald’s and Jeep to Cadillac), and posted a series of damaging and obscene messages.

While the stories might appear funny to the average person, the truth is that social media hacking is a real threat to companies of all sizes.

If someone hacks your Twitter, Facebook or other social networking profile, all sorts of false, harmful information may spread about your brand. Your audience could become confused, misled or even angry at your company. Hacking can do real damage.

That’s why it’s important you do everything you can to prevent a hack.

Is there a foolproof system you can use to keep your accounts safe? Of course not. But there are measures you can take to reduce the chances of becoming a victim:

1. Choose complex passphrases.

Rather than use a single word as your password, use a short phrase. For example, you might use a short quote or favorite line from a poem as inspiration for your passphrase. Of course, you want to include numbers and randomly capitalized letters to make it as strong as possible.

2. Don’t use the same password for everything.

Don’t use the same password for your Twitter account and Facebook page. And definitely don’t use the password you use for your email address; you don’t want hackers to get that.

Use a different password for every account you have so that if one of them gets hacked, the damage doesn’t spread any farther than it has to.

3. Limit the number of people who know the passwords.

You might have multiple people at your company who manage your social networking accounts. That’s OK, but make sure only those who need the passwords have them. The more people who have your password, the more likely someone will mishandle it.

4. Reset your passwords regularly.

Reset your passwords every month or two to lower the risk of someone hacking your accounts. Refer to the prior steps to choose and manage your new passwords.

5. Beware of fake login screens.

Hackers are very crafty. They create fake login screens you can end up at whenever you click certain spammy links or visit certain pages. These screens may look like a normal Twitter login screen, but they’re designed to get your account information. Always double check the page’s URL before you login.

6. Use popular, trusted apps to manage your social media accounts.

There are a lot of great apps out there that make it easier for you to manage all of your social media activities. Of course, the more places you login, the greater your chances of getting hacked. That’s why it’s important to use trusted, reputable apps like Hootsuite and TweetDeck.

Has anyone ever hacked your social media profiles? Do you have additional tips to prevent hacking? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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