Why Your Brand's Account Got Hacked

By Mallorie Rosenbluth Unless you've been in a bubble that is impervious to social media news and crises, you've certainly heard about Burger King's and Jeep’s recent Twitter hacks. Brands everywhere were in a tizzy, wondering if their organizations’ social accounts would be the next targeted. Then MTV and BET joined the party, prank-hacking themselves - and no one was impressed. Now that the dust has settled a bit, let’s take a look at three reasons why your brand might be hacked on social media.

1) Your password isn't secure. If your password is easy to remember, there’s a good chance it’s going to be easy for others to figure out too. Here’s an example: I don’t subscribe to cable or internet in my apartment. However, a nearby establishment has a Wi-Fi account I can access. It’s locked, but the password is the same as the name of the network. And that’s the same name of the establishment. I tried it on a whim and BAM, Wi-Fi network unlocked. Your leaning: make sure no one can hack into your account on a "whim." An easy way to create a secure password is to think of a phrase, then take the first letter of each word and substitute symbols for letters wherever possible. For example: the phrase Likeable is a really great social media agency would be L!@rg$m@. That’s your new password. Keep your password for no more than 3 months. In addition, set-up 2-step verification in your Gmail account. One break-in to your email can easily result in the hacker getting passwords to all your other password-protected accounts. Encourage your employees to take this action as well.

2) Don’t share your social media passwords with every employee, vendor, and friend of a friend who is a social media expert. Not everyone in your organization needs or should have access to your social media passwords. Choose two or three people who will be accessing the account on a regular basis and entrust them with the password and the responsibility of posting on behalf of your organization. A password isn't a phone number – don’t give it to everyone. If your account does get hacked, it will be much easier to determine where the break came if you know exactly who has access to the password. Don’t forget to change the password frequently as well, as it will ensure that a vendor or employee who shouldn't ordinarily have access to the account won’t continue to have access.

3) Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable. Think of how many "oops" moments or blunders you've had within your organization that you thank the Lord no one in the public has seen. Think how quickly news travels online – especially when it comes to social media. No matter how careful or cautious you are, there are always mistakes that can’t simply be deleted (just ask Celebboutique.com about its Aurora tweet, KitchenAid about its Obama fiasco, or any of the other companies behind the biggest social media fails of the last few years). So the lesson here is this: take precautions, be prepared, but put a plan in place for how you’ll respond to a crisis like this. What’s your communication plan? Who in the organization will be the spokesperson? Answer these questions now and you can save your brand a whole lot of trouble down the line.

What steps does your organization take to ensure that you avoid a social media hacking or other crisis?