Social media is the 21st century Goliath that every business owner needs to conquer for their business to excel. There are several social media platforms and each comes with its own set of rules and regulations. But, what does it take to excel on each platform? Here is what I found out.
How do you use social media safely and legally? To use social media safely, you need to learn about data protection, hacking and human error. You need to understand how to protect your company pages from web-based security threats.
Most business neglect to check on what the law has to say about social media usage. Some of the mistakes that could land your brand in hot soup include copyright infringement, not formatting sponsored posts correctly and using fake testimonials. There are many safety and legal factors that brands must observe so that they can succeed on social platforms.
How to use social media safely?
Social media is made up of various platforms that allow business owners to advertise products, interact with clients, and improve brand loyalty. Some of the most popular platforms include:
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Webroot, a Cybersecurity company, found that 80 percent of small and mid-sized companies using social media are prone to web-based threats. These threats are harder to mitigate compared to email threats.
One of the most common web-based threats is hacking. Hackers love to show off their skills and what better playground than social platforms. In its existence, Facebook has been hacked severally. One of the biggest breaches occurred in 2018 and a record 50 million users were affected.
In 2016 Twitter was hacked, and 32 million accounts were affected. No social media platform is immune to hacking. Some ways you can protect yourself against web-based threats include:
Changing passwords regularly
The longer that a password remains, there higher the chance that other people may have seen it. You may also have logged in an unsecured location and the password recorded. Security experts recommend changing your password every 30 to 60 days. Businesses using social media platforms should make it part of their security policies.
Be careful when clicking on links
It is easy to install malware to the business’s system using a link sent on social media. Other links introduce malicious codes to your Facebook account from which they send pornography and other unwanted contacts to your contacts and followers.
Human error is also a common cause of security breach. Employees, whether knowingly or unknowingly, can leak vital information. This could lead to hacking. It also becomes a problem when you lose your device and other unauthorized parties gain access to your Facebook account. You can add in extra layers of security such as two-stage login where every login has to be authenticated by a code sent to the registered phone number.
If you are running a business page, select a few people who will act as administrators. Train these administrators on the dos and don’ts of the business page. Also, come up with guidelines that will help them understand what to share and what not to share.
Be careful about what you share
It is unfortunate that most people share every little thing that happens in their lives, their holidays, pets, children, vacation destination and other intimate details of their lives. Criminals go through social networks looking for information that can help them in various criminal activities from burglary to credit card and identity theft. In fact, some home insurers may refuse a claim for theft while you were away if you broadcast on social networks that you are away.
In the same line, companies should have specific people who post information relating to the business and one, or a few people should check the information. Otherwise, there is a chance that someone may leak a business secret or a loophole that criminals can exploit to steal or blackmail the company.
Avoid linking other accounts to social media accounts
Most apps today provide an option where you can log in with your Facebook, G+ or Twitter account. They make it easy for you to set up an account and log in. However, most people do not read the permissions they give to the apps. Most apps can view your actions on social media, your friends and other data such as your address and birthday. This information is then used to market products to you. It can also fall into the wrong hands and used for theft or blackmail. Always use the long way to register new accounts and log into them.
Update your Privacy Settings
When is the last time you updated your privacy settings? 40% of business owners forget to update their privacy settings regularly. Compared to a personal page or feed, a business page is more prone to identity theft and social engineering.
As a rule of thumb, most social media platforms require you to update your privacy settings at least every 60 days. It is much easier to update your security settings than vet every single fan.
How to use social media legally
In 2018, statistics showed there were over 2.7 billion social media users who make over 35 percent of the world population. Even as social media reshapes the world, there are many grey areas when it comes to legal obligations and regulations that apply to social media management. The all common risk of data breaches and leaks complicates the issues, especially to business managers. Here are a few legal issues that affect social media and how you can deal with them.
Potential liability from breaches of private information
The law protects the distribution of private information on the internet and other platforms. There is always a risk that you may accidentally share private information in the course of advertising. The affected party may seek legal redress for the actions. If you are to advertise anything or posit audio, video or written text from other parties seek their consent before posting the material.
Sharing of copyrighted material
Royalty free images and videos can be shared on social media freely. However, most of the other material s copyrighted with the rights to use them held by different entities. If you are to use any material picked from the internet or offline, ensure that it is not copyrighted or get consent from the creator. This is especially important when creating social media campaigns.
Leakage of confidential data to third-parties
Most businesses use social media as a tool to connect with their potential audience, respond to their inquiries and collect their contact and behavioral information. In case of hacking or unauthorized access to the social media account, this information could be leaked to unauthorized parties for malicious purposes.
You should take all available steps to safeguard the data contained in your social media accounts. Some of the data can also be moved to secure formats and deleted from social media. Refer to the section on social media safety for more information.
In this era of cut-throat competition between companies, everyone wants to show that his or her products are better than the rest. Sometimes the claims that businesses make to reach this goal cannot be verified or are entirely misleading. If anyone buys the goods or services on account of the advertising and they do not meet the expectation, he or she can sue the business for damages. There have been several such lawsuits in the recent past.
Do not give false descriptions of your products and their capabilities. Moreover, ensure that your customers get the exact product that you had advertised on social media. Any unverified claims should not be used in advertising until you have verifiable information.
Most businesses use social media influencers to promote their products and services online. Influencers have access to a large audience and followers. Most of these followers take the word from influencers as the truth. In this case, the information given might not be the actual features of the product and service.
If you are an influencer, let your followers know that the brand sponsors the information or you have some connection with the brand whose products you are advertising. This protects you from any legal liability should any of your audience suffer injury from deceptive marketing.
Posting illegal, restricted or banned material
Every social media platform has its posting policies which you should follow. For example, Facebook restricts the sale of guns, ammunition, animal parts and drugs. It also bans posting of violence, images of the deceased and other highly graphic images. There have also been cases where people were sued for threatening, defamatory and indecent posts they made on social media
Failure to follow the platform rules may lead to the closure of your account or legal charges depending on the material posted. Always read through the terms and conditions of any platform that you intend to join.
Social media is a huge platform where people relate, buy, sell and market what they have with ease. However, there are multiple security and legal potholes that may affect the users. Use the above guidelines to stay safe and within the legal boundaries when using social media platforms.
Can I post customer testimonials on social media?
Yes. However, the customer should agree to have the information posted on social media. Ask for written consent.
How do I prevent my fans from posting just anything on my business Facebook wall?
Business pages and groups have an option that allows the administrator to approve posts before they are put on the wall. Activate the option so that you read every post before it becomes visible to others.