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This is a guide to social media brand protection that Matchbox Design Group in St. Louis is sharing.

In today’s modern, global economy there are more and more marketing methods being invented every year. The one that is all the rage these days and will stick for a long time is influencer marketing. Social media platforms offer a vast area for both the consumer and brand alike. Gone are the days when products are being advertised through short monologues on television, radio or other traditional forms of media. Not convinced? Just take a short stroll through the research regarding the so-called “cord cutters”, or adblocking software for the online generations. Social media brand protection is of the utmost importance in this day and age.

Social media platforms with their influencers reign supreme when it comes to efficient, non-intrusive, and non-aggressive advertising and marketing. As with a few things in life, it is not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to social media platforms. This system is plagued with various forms of malware use. This puts on us, our business, and our industry as a whole, the responsibility of protecting what is ours. Not just in a physical sense, but in all others. These may include but are not limited to, protecting our image or how others see us, and our brand. It may also include the constant strive to convey our message exactly how we want it to. Leaving room for misinterpretation can prove to be fatal. Influencer marketing does have its inherent risks that traditional marketing does not. Instead of getting rid of this powerful tool altogether, let’s go over the key points in making it as secure for us as possible.

1. Influencer Engagement and ROI (Return on Investment).

Influencer Marketing is a extremely important part of Social Media and your overall marketing plan

Simply having a large number of followers does not mean an influencer will be successful in getting our message across. Followers by themselves do not create ROI, impressions, and engagement over time do. Before starting a marketing campaign, determine the desired reach and engagement you expect from an influencer to achieve. We can expect the audience to engage in a similar fashion if the content is in line with the expected topic. Unrelated or disingenuous product pitches will fall flat on their faces. If that comes to past, we could lose trust with our audience. Remember, a bad word travels a lot further than a good one. So, once our online marketing campaign is launched, passivity is our number one enemy. If we, along with our chosen influencers, are creating quality content, make sure that it reaches as many people as possible. Paying for blogs to be promoted on Facebook, for example, has a great follow-up. And that is retargeting the readers with paid advertising to supplement the campaign and increase the conversion rate. Not relying purely on organic reach is paramount in achieving the biggest spread possible.

2. Personal Information Security.

Having a social media policy in place with strict channels for information sharing and storage is important. Do not share critical, personal information online, especially if it is not yours. No one outside of our social media teams should be able to access customer emails. These, most often, contain sensitive information such as social security numbers, paying information, living address, etc. It will put a major dent in our brand to have this sensitive, personal information leak out. As we have seen happen in the past with some of the major players in various industries. If we have to post screenshots, we will blur out customer contacts, names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and such. This also creates a privacy culture with our audience. Educating ourselves in identity theft and hacking is always a good idea, both for us as a business, and for our viewers. We can never be too careful when it comes to handling customer information. Miss use it, and it could cost us sales and credibility.

3. Neglecting our Accounts.

There are many perspectives when it comes to keeping our channels and accounts active. It ties in closely with being engaging. Actively monitoring our channels through which we are reaching out to our audience is paramount. No matter what we do, interested people will engage with our brand. It is up to us to provide a human face to a brand, product or service. One of the ways of doing this is by quickly responding to questions and criticism. More than eighty percent of customers say a fast response is a big plus for a brand, in their eyes.

4. Phishing

Security is a very important piece of keeping your brand trusted amongst the public

In the last year alone, the number of phishing attempts has risen by 150 percent. Phishing is a common type of scam, also present on social media platforms. A fake customer service account will reply to a customer’s inquiry or post, posing as a representative for our brand. The imposters will after some sly-talk provide our unsuspecting customers towards their own links. These links are often riddled with misleading and deceptive conduct and bad intentions, usually consisting of stealing financial or personal information. For us to make our brand clearly distinguishable from potential imposters is paramount. It will save both us and our customers a lot of headache and money.

5. Account Hacks and Malware

Cybercriminals can take over our social media accounts for their own nefarious activities. In fact, it has happened to some of the biggest giants in various industries. Typically, these are see-through, but that does not make them any less damaging when regarding PR and the bottom line. These types of attacks are all too common, unfortunately. All known social media platforms have an extensive system for bringing these accounts under the control of their rightful owners. Malware, on the other hand, can gain access to each and every one of our computers, through malicious code. Just one infection can result in temporary or permanent loss or even leak of data. Ransomware is especially lucrative when it comes to businesses. What it does, it encrypts our business-critical data, rendering us unable to operate efficiently, or at all. Then we are instructed to pay a certain amount of money to a certain account for a chance to get the data back. These methods are not always reliable for solving such problems. The takeaway is, one pound of prevention is worth ten pounds of cure, as the old saying goes. Again, education is golden.

We all work tirelessly to create, manage, and keep our brand afloat. Reputation is what ensures that it will reach far into the future and expand on the original idea into something greater. By having these principles in mind, we will be setting up our brand to deal with any trouble that might come up. Bad press should and will be handled and minimized quickly. Quick action and meticulous planning are what ensures our reputation, and in extent, our longevity, in the global market.

Bio: David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.