Tag Archives: Business

10 Key Tips for Social Media Security

12 Jun

The hacking of mass accounts on a social network is something that seems to be happening a great deal recently, with LinkedIn being the latest victim, after having 6.5m of its users passwords stolen. Prior to LinkedIn, Twitter suffered a similar hack, and Facebook way did too.

Social media profiles have become the target of social media hackers who use that data to further spread their maliciousness or gain access to your more sensitive data. It is always worth remembering that you can become a victim at any time. Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about a new hack, and with 55,000 new pieces of malware generated a day, security never sleeps.

With the latest security threat to LinkedIn fresh in our minds, here are 10 key social media security tips.

1. Think before you post! Status updates, photos, and comments can end up revealing more about you than you intended to disclose, and you could end up feeling like some silly politician as you struggle to explain yourself.

2. Think twice about allowing applications that request permission to access your data. You will be allowing an unknown party to send you email, post to your wall, and access your information at any time, regardless of whether you’re using the application. Before you decide if you want to allow the application access, make sure you know exactly what the application is!

3. Don’t click on short links that don’t clearly show the link location. With URL shorteners like bit.ly (and many more) are becoming increasingly common, it’s easy to forget that such URL’s can also be used by criminals to dupe you. Criminals often post phony links that claim to show you who has been viewing your profile. If you’re unsure about a link, you can test unknown links at SiteAdvisor by simply pasting the link into the “View a Site Report” form on the right-hand side of the page. Alternatively, if you use Hootsuite, you can see the extended URL or a shortened link by simply clicking the ‘+’ sign next to the shortened URL.

4. Beware of posts with subjects along the lines of, “LOL! Look at the video I found of you online!” When you click the link, you often get a message saying that you need to upgrade your video player in order to see the clip, but when you attempt to download the “upgrade,” the malicious page will instead install malware that tracks and steals your data.

5. Geolocation apps such as Foursquare share your exact location, which can also let criminals know that you aren’t home, so reconsider broadcasting exactly where you are. Remember, apps like Foursquare still allow you to gain check-in points without having to disclose your location on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

6. Always use an up-to-date browser. Older browsers tend to have more security flaws, and it is very simple and quick to update your browser to the latest version.

7. Choose unique logins and passwords for each of the websites you use. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to have different passwords for EVERY site you use, but it’s the best way to limit your exposure if (and probably when) a particular site you use gets hacked. I’m a big fan of password managers, which can create and store secure passwords for you.

8. Check the domain of the website to be sure that you’re logging into a legitimate website. So if you’re visiting a Facebook page from a link in an email, make sure the URL of the site is actually ‘www.facebook.com’ and not a site which looks like Facebook. Hackers often duplicate websites with the exact same design, and once you log into their fake site, they have your real login and password within seconds. This principle also applies to online banking websites, so be extra careful!

9. Be cautious of any message, post, or link you find on a social network that looks at all suspicious or requires to login again once you’re already logged in.

10. Make sure your security suite is up to date and includes antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, a firewall, and a website safety advisor.

BONUS TIP: Take the time to understand your privacy settings! Select the most secure options and check periodically for changes that can open up your profile to the public. Facebook is renowned for continually changing its layout and one such change could result in information that was once private, now being public!

Have you ever had in social media security issues? Or do you have any additional tips? I’d love to hear from you!


Is It Really Worth Linking Your Personal Twitter Account To Post All Tweets To Your LinkedIn Profile?

29 May

I have recently started to see a lot of my LinkedIn connections link their personal Twitter accounts to their LinkedIn profile, and allow it to push all of their tweets to their LinkedIn profile. Linking your LinkedIn and your personal Twitter account may seem like a good idea to begin with: It’s a function which exists to make your life more efficient and save you having to post the same updates individually on each platform, however LinkedIn’s option to link your Twitter account should not be taken lightly, and is something I would advise against.

I must point out that my opinion on linking your personal Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile mainly applies to those who tweet a lot, about many kinds of topic. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing! It’s natural to do this, and Twitter is a wonderful online platform for sharing information, links and opinions on a large variety of topics.

But it is worth remembering that unlike Twitter, the greatest strength of LinkedIn is that the audience is there specifically to gather useful information that helps them, or their business, to grow professionally. If you focus your message on that audience’s needs, you’ll have a tremendous opportunity to serve as a resource to them – and maybe ultimately have them choose to do business with you, or refer others to you.

However, if you constantly bombard your LinkedIn users with updates of tweets related to TV Programmes, Sports or any other personal interests you have, the LinkedIn user who has connected with you on a professional level will not find any of this content relevant, and the user can choose to ‘hide’ your updates, which means any updates you make in the future that are relevant to your professional connections could easily be drowned by the amount of other ‘irrelevant’ updates you have posted.

The same applies to updates which show you replying to other tweets where LinkedIn users don’t have the context of the larger conversation to make sense of it. Although your Twitter followers will appreciate this, chances are your LinkedIn connections will not.

If you have the two criteria below, I feel it is worth linking your personal Twitter Account to your LinkedIn Profile:

1. You only tweet a maximum of two/three time a days.
2. You only tweet about topics related to your profession/niche.

There will be occasions when you post tweets that you would like to appear in your LinkedIn profile as well, and you can modify your settings so that when you include the hashtag “#in” your tweet will automatically be posted on LinkedIn. This is the best alternative for those who tweet a lot, but not only about work.

It’s always important to be as professional as often as possible on LinkedIn and this is a simple way to avoid annoying your business connections while still being able to update your LinkedIn status with relevant information.

If your LinkedIn stream isn’t relevant, people will begin to ignore your updates!

What are your thoughts on linking social media accounts?

How Dell Has Reinvented Itself Thanks To Social Media

15 May

After last week’s post about the biggest Social Media Campaign Fails of 2012 (so far), I thought it would be a good idea to look at a company who has managed to use social media in the best way possible and have transformed their image and reputation as a result.

Social Media, Inspired by Dell

Dell is, without a doubt, a “darling” when it comes to social media industry case studies. Why? They are one of the first real “rags to riches” story that bridges several market segments including consumer, enterprise, SMB and healthcare; and they offer an industry-leading example of “listening” to their customers in social media channels, from blogs to Twitter. And perhaps even more compelling is Dell’s approach to managing the oceans of new information that they uncover on a daily basis — everything from support requests and product feedback to complaints and high-level topic discussions.

It all started with “Dell Hell”

In 2005, Dell’s customer service and support was apparently not what it is today. Combine the subsequent low-levels of customer satisfaction along with the rapid adoption of social media (which gives you the ability to spread discontent very far, very quickly), and you have the beginnings of a major brand backlash.

That’s exactly what happened with the now famous social media firestorm of “Dell Hell”, where Jeff Jarvis, (a blogger who had clout before Klout was even an idea), posted a rant on his “Buzz Machine” blog titled “Dell lies. Dell sucks.” This post ignited a customer revolt (which involved most of the comments on Jeff’s post being similar stories from other customers) which ended up changing much of the culture and customer service practices at one of the world’s most venerable technology companies.

How Dell Weathered The Storm

Dell ultimately weathered the storm thanks to Michael Dell, who recognized the importance of social media (both the risks and the opportunities), and got personally involved. One of the first moves Michael Dell made was was to create a dedicated corporate blogger that would span functional groups. Lionel Menchaca was nominated for the new position, who found immediate success dealing with Jeff Jarvis and other connected bloggers by speaking “honestly and directly”, effectively giving the company a human voice.

But Menchaca and his team did a lot more than just manage blogger outreach – They started a “listening and responding” program, for customer service and support, community-building and topic discussions with subject matter experts. When the small team finally hit the “on” switch for their listening platforms, four to five thousand conversations about Dell started landing in their lap every single day!

Dell’s “Listening Czar”

They ended up creating a new position called Dell’s “Listening Czar”, which became one of the most important components of their social media programme. The Czar was the overall integration lead for all of Dell’s social media functions, from their support forums to Ideastorm, and led a mix of resources to segment out conversations for different business functions.

Additionally, the Czar monitored a customized social media dashboard to identify trends and emerging issues. If a given threshold is reached, for example, if there are a lot of people talking or asking about a certain issue, a blog post on Direct2Dell was initiated.

Today: World-Class Listening through the “Command Centre”

Dell have recently expanded their programme even further by launching their Social Media Listening Command Centre, a social media hub focused purely on listening, engaging and responding to all-things-Dell in more than 11 languages and the Social Outreach Services (SOS) team has grown from 10 to 70 people over the past 2 years.

Dell’s Radian6 monitoring and management tools record an average of 20k – 25k social media events for the company each day, and they make a point of engaging wherever appropriate as quickly as possible. Most tweets, Facebook posts and the like receive some kind of response in no more than 24 hours, and many are handled in real-time.

In case you are a Dell customer, social media support is available to you via Twitter (@DellCares), Facebook (click the “Support” Button under the Cover Photo) and via Dell’s website by clicking “Support” on each Dell.com web page.

In just a few years, Dell went from a serious brand backlash to leading the social media bunch; especially when it comes to effectively listening and responding to an ocean of customer conversations. By doing so, Dell has become a great example of how to integrate social media into an organisation.

Social Media Campaigns: Case Studies of the Biggest Fails of 2012 (So Far)

8 May

As social media continues to evolve, there is no set formula that defines a perfect campaign. While there are some great social media campaigns being run by companies, there are also plenty of campaigns being run which highlight how running a social media campaign isn’t easy, and there can be downfalls. Many individuals and companies are learning this the hard way, and it’s good to learn from other people’s mistakes so we don’t end up making them ourselves!

Here are some case studies of such failures that have occurred this year, along with the key lesson learnt from each failure.

1. McDonald’s #McDStories

In mid-January, McDonalds launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #McDStories. McDonald’s asked users to post nostalgic stories about their experiences on Happy Meals, however, the #McDStories campaign quickly took a whole different turn very quickly as users started using the hashtag to instead share horror experiences and shock tales. From poor work conditions to appalling food quality, McDonald’s campaign turned negative attention back to itself.

Here are just a few examples of tweets on the #McDStories Hashtag:

The Lesson:
Social media campaigns always contain a measure of risk, where perception from users cannot be controlled. McDonald’s suffered from this, with the hijacking of their hashtag campaign. While companies, to some degree, can attempt to anticipate reaction from customers, at times it is simply impossible. In general, companies need to prepare contingency plans, and have a strategy for when social media fails. This is also a great example which shows that no-one, not even a global restaurant giant, can control conversations on the internet.

2. Reddit & Woody Harrelson’s ‘Ask Me Anything’

At the start of February, Academy Award Nominee Woody Harrelson hosted Reddit’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA), where users can ask questions to individuals who have a unique story or occupation. While the AMA’s are generally used to promote thoughtful dialogue and discussion, Harrelson’s AMA chat took a different approach – Reddit users quickly got the impression that the movie star was simply using the site for nothing more than marketing purposes, and Reddit users lashed out. There was an enormous amount of backlash fired against Harrelson, his publicists and his upcoming movie, and Harrelson became infamous in Reddit history ever since. Google ‘Woody Harrelson’ today and ‘Woody Harrelson AMA’ is still the most popular search term!

Here are a few of the comments directly from Harrelson’s AMA:

The Lesson:
The main reason why this campaign failed so spectacularly is because of Harrelson’s (and his publicists) failure to understand his audience. Reddit is a social news website which possesses a dedicated audience that is very sensitive towards marketing attempts. With AMA threads, Reddit users expect an honest dialogue, providing an open forum between the host and the audience. When using a social media platform, it is vital that you carefully understand the community and how they work.

3. Chris Brown’s Post-Grammy Tweets

One of the big winners at the 2012 Grammy Awards was R&B singer Chris Brown, who won an award for Best R&B album. After the Grammys, Chris Brown celebrated his victory on Twitter, by sending out tweets to his followers. But instead of thanking his loyal fans for their support, he instead focused his updates towards his haters, attacking them with disparaging remarks and F-bombs. Given the singer’s already shaky reputation, these tweets further solidified the controversy around him.

The Lesson:
Given the shareable nature of social media, public perception and reputation can change at the drop of a hat. A single tweet can quickly spread to others, whether it is good or bad, especially if you are extremely influential within your respective industry, especially if this occurs from a business/company account. By posting such remarks, Chris Brown’s tweets turned some fans against him and had them commenting on his temperamental nature instead of the Grammy win itself. While the tweet was later deleted from Brown’s account, it lives on through the hundreds and thousands of retweets it received, which can’t be deleted.

4. Toyota’s #CamryEffect Campaign

During the Superbowl, Toyota planned a major Twitter campaign meant to promote the Camry. Creating a number of Twitter accounts labeled @CamryEffect1 through @CamryEffect9, Toyota intended to engage users by directly tweeting them. However, this had the opposite effect: users accused Toyota of bombarding and spamming them with unsolicited messages. Though Toyota quickly suspended the accounts, this campaign still resonates as an example of a failed, large-scale endeavour.

Here are some examples of the spam tweets it bombarded users with:

The Lesson:
In Toyota’s case, mass spamming was not the main problem, though it definitely added to their woes. Instead, it was the content itself that caused the uproar. In order to engage users, your tweets need to be interesting and intriguing, motivating users to retweet the message. However, the content used in the #CamryEffect campaign gave a self-serving and promotional impression. The bland, spammed messages and poor timing became a recipe for disaster for the major automobile company.

What lessons have you learned from these social media fiascos that you will apply in your own social media and PR efforts? Do you have examples of any similar fails from which we can also learn?

Overwhelmed By Social Media? Start Small To Win Big!

17 Apr

Are you still meaning to start your social media plan? Or perhaps you just haven’t had the time or maybe you’re waiting until after your next project. Maybe you’ve been secretly wishing social media would go away by now! Whatever the reason (or excuse), getting started can be the hardest part. Other than finding the time to start your campaign, I find that most businesses are simply overwhelmed by the high volume of social media information and the constant changes.

Don’t let that hold you back, because social media is NOT going away anytime soon, so here are my five simple tips to get started!

1. Set realistic expectations.
In case you haven’t heard, social media is not magic. You will need to be realistic about your goals and expectations, about how to measure them, and when to make changes. Be sure to set a clear goal such as “use Facebook contests to increase traffic to my store by five percent in the next three months.” Setting a blanket goal such as “more customers and more money” will just leave you feeling defeated.

2. Start small.
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen business owners make is trying to take on too much, too soon. Rather than setting up 10 accounts to keep track of, pick one or two to start. Monitor and track your progress, and once you have a feel for what’s working or not working, make changes as necessary.

3. Set a date.
Set a date for launching your brand on social media. Using this date as a focal point, start planning backwards, so you can assure you will meet your time-frame.  Be sure to build up yourself, and your current audience, for this launch date!

4. Devise a plan for going forward.
Now that you have everything in place, the biggest step will be maintaining your presence. First, block out some time in your daily calendar to keep up with social media marketing. Take that time to check out what your audience and peers are posting, write your content, monitor your competition and strategize ways to keep your content fresh and relevant. For the latter, I recommend a monthly editorial calendar. This will help you focus your content on a specific topic, which is great for both consistency and determining what to post.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
One great thing about social media is the ability to solicit feedback from others. If you have a question about a Facebook page for your business, or you’re not sure if you are on the right track, you can throw it out there on your newsfeed and allow your peers to answer! LinkedIn has a great Answers tool which is perfect to gain help from experts.

If you get stuck, remember the golden question to ask yourself:

If you’re unsure on how to get started on executing any of the tips mentioned above, and would like to see how your business could benefit from expert guidance in adopting social media effectively, I’d love to hear from you.

Facebook Acquires Instagram: The Biggest Sign Yet That The Mobile App Bubble Is Here?

10 Apr

The news that Facebook has acquired Instagram makes perfect business sense. After all, mobile is most definitely the future, and Facebook’s own mobile app efforts have been the subject of plenty of criticism. Instagram has a user base that is increasing at a great pace. It picked up 30 million iOS users in only 18 months and was named iPhone App of the Year 2011, and the app is now officially now on the Android Market, and is adding a million users a day. However, the current problem with mobile apps is the lack of revenue they generate.

With that in mind, it raises what can only be described as the billion dollar question. How can Instagram, a 15-month-old start up, with only approximately 10 employees, go from being a completely free photo-sharing app which has yet to bring in ANY revenue whatsoever, to becoming acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock? Surely that is crazy money?

There is a good chance Instagram won’t be providing revenue anytime soon, if ever. But what it does provide is a great mobile experience the meshes well with Facebook. After all, you don’t share Instagram photos on an Instagram website, you use Instagram to take the picture and apply your filter, before sharing the picture on Facebook and/or Twitter.

How Facebook decide to move forward with their newly acquired company is something that only they truly know, but for the time being, Mark Zuckerberg has promised to let Instagram continue to run as it is, as a separate company which will continue to operate in the same way.

The acquisition of Instagram comes just a couple of weeks after Zynga (creator of popular apps such as Words With Friends) paid approximately $200 million to acquire OMGPOP, just six weeks after the company released its wildly popular app ‘Draw Something’.

These 2 acquisitions seem to highlight a new trend in mobile and social of ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em!’. No matter how you look at it, one thing is for sure, with the amount of money being spent on these acquisitions, it’s clear to see the belief these companies have on how big social will continue to get in the future.

In any case, it’s very easy to see how we get to an arms race in the world of mobile apps, where companies will become paranoid that they’ll miss out, so they pay over the odds to make sure a hot app doesn’t land into the lap of a competitor. This is what I believe has pushed the acquisition of companies like Instagram and OMGPOP.

This bubble is going to make some young entrepreneurs very wealthy and some quick returns for lucky VCs. Whether it turns out to make an ounce of business sense, it’s the kind of question that tends not to get asked until much, much later, so let’s watch this space.

3 Ways Social Media Can Destroy Your Business

3 Apr

If you’re a business owner (or a marketer for your company) and you take part in social media, have you thought about if the way you’re using social media is actually helping or hurting your business? There’s a huge fallacy out there about social media which revolves around the thought that if a business is involved in social media, it automatically means that their business is benefiting from it.

The truth, however, is very different. Your business only benefits from social media if you’re using it correctly and you’re properly engaging your followers. When social media isn’t used properly, it can destroy your business.

Business owners don’t sign up for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or any other social media platforms to ruin their business. Sounds so obvious, right? Although the intention going into things is usually good, it doesn’t take long for things to take an ugly turn. One mistake, one customer, one instance of accountability being questioned is all it can take for a business to suffer a loss. There’s no office door to hide behind and there’s no receptionist to turn people away that you don’t want to see – when you’re on social media, everything’s out there and transparency is the most vital part of the process.

I know this all sounds terrifying but before you go running for the hills and as far away from your social media accounts as humanly possible, remember that it’s extremely important to know the downside of social media. If you’re not aware of what can happen, then you’re not going to be aware of how to prevent it.

Once negative information is out there, it’s out there for good, which is why preventing a social media disaster is the only fool proof way of making sure that it doesn’t happen to you.

If you’re still not convinced that there’s anything to worry about in regards to social media, here are 3 of the most common ways that social media can destroy your business.

1. The Public Argument

Scenario: A customer confronts you on your social media account in regards to something that they’re unhappy about. You try to politely respond and correct the situation but the customer isn’t having any of it. No matter what you say or do, the customer can’t be made happy. You start to get worried about what other followers are making out of the situation and the small confrontation turns into a full blown argument where you’re defending yourself and your business to the customer.

Lesson: It’s natural to want to defend yourself but if at all possible, take it out of the public eye. You can suggest that you’re only further able to help the customer if they email you or call you. If they’re not willing to do that, your other followers will at least see that you made an effort to take care of the problem but the customer refused. If you argue, it’s never going to portray your business in the best light. Before you know it, your little argument with your customer is now plastered on other profile pages and on other social media networks. It can take a long time to recover if you become defensive on social media and sometimes it’s hard to recover at all.

2. The ‘Silent’ Type

Scenario: This is a real life scenario that happened to me. A few months ago, a business that I was loyal to (a certain mobile phone company who shall not be named) changed their pricing structure and I became unhappy about it as a lot of people naturally do if prices go up. But it wasn’t simply a small increase; it was a pretty large jump that made it almost impossible for me to continue my customer relationship with the company. However, as I had been a loyal customer of the company for several years, I wanted to make it work if it was at all possible.

Knowing how powerful social media is, I turned to one of their social media accounts once I never received an email response from them (which was the company’s first mistake). If I would have received an email response, the issue could have been discussed privately. I did receive an immediate response on their social media account but it was a complete run around and the answer provided didn’t make any sense at all. I then pushed for additional information and received no reply! I tried a couple days later and once again, no reply. Was I just being ignored? It felt like it!

Lesson: There are businesses out there that when confronted by customers on their social media accounts, they fail to address any issues. If they do attempt to address them, it comes in the form of a vague answer that’s not even relevant to the question asked. If you’re not taking care of your customers in front of dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of social media followers, then your other followers can get the impression that you’re just going to ignore their problems as well. No one wants to deal with a company who refuses to address customer service issues.

3. The Desperate Company

Scenario: It’s pretty easy to recognise the businesses who use social media and fall under this category. You may even know of a few. It’s the over the top “please, please, please buy my product,” and/or “I am the best at everything”. This is the “I am going to shove my business down your throat every single second of every single day until you buy something from me (or block and report them)”.

Lesson: People are sick of the desperate companies who do nothing but spend all day flooding your streams with advertising. No one wants to deal with an over pushy business who cares more about making a sale than they do building engaging relationships with their customers via social media.

There’s a fine line between marketing and being too pushy. Your followers want to be engaged, they want to learn and they want to trust you before forking over any cash. It’s not the quickest route, but it’ll help keep your business on good terms with the rest of the social media community.

Remember, on social media, everything is transparent. From the way you handle customer service to your personal thoughts and feelings. By knowing what can happen, you can prevent it and that gives you the power to be more successful if you’re using social media as part of your online marketing strategy.