How to Keep Your Brand’s Social Accounts Safe (and 4 Steps to Take if They’re Compromised)

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If you witnessed the events of WhopperGate unfold as inappropriate tweets began to flood Burger King’s Twitter feed, a fear probably ran through your mind — What if my brand’s Twitter account is hacked?  You may have even rushed out and changed your brand’s login information just to be safe. Although your brand’s accounts are probably safe, there are steps you can take to help prevent unwanted users from hijacking your account and filling it with inappropriate content.

If you outsource your social duties, use a third-party client.

If you’ve decided to hire an outside agency or a freelancer to run your social accounts, don’t share your login information with them. Instead, use a third-party social client, like Sprout Social, that allows you to create an account, link your social profiles, and then give users the appropriate amount of access. This way, users create their own accounts with their own login information without ever actually seeing your account information. If any questionable posts pop up, you can also use the service to track where it came from and who posted it.

Keep a close eye on your account activity.

You should be checking your account a regular basis anyway, but be sure to keep an eye out for any strange activity. Look for strange statuses or tweets, angry or confused posts from followers or major changes to your profile. The sooner you see a problem, the faster you can respond to it.

Don’t use the same password for all your social accounts.

Whether you represent a brand or not, using the same password for all your accounts is just a bad idea in general. Why make it even easier for hackers to gain access to all of your accounts? Also, don’t use a password that would be easy to figure out just from your brand name.

Of course, even if you take all the right precautions, your accounts could still get hacked. If you find yourself in that unenviable position, here are the steps to take:

Try to log in and change your password immediately.

If you’re attentive and notice something is amiss, quickly try to log in and change your password. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to neutralize the situation immediately by cutting off the hacker’s access to your account. Unfortunately, the account’s password may be changed before you realize what is happening. If that’s the case…

Contact support immediately.

You need to work quickly. If your Twitter account was hit, and you can’t log in, go here to figure out how to report the problem to Twitter support. If your Facebook account was compromised, you can go here for assistance.

Delete the offending posts ASAP and apologize.

Once you regain access to your account, be sure to delete any inappropriate or offensive posts that were made during the interim. Then, speak with the rest of your PR/social team to create an appropriate and sincere post to your fans and followers that explains what happened and apologizes for any inappropriate content that was shared.

Re-examine your workflow.

In addition to changing your passwords, use this as an opportunity to re-examine your social workflow. What improvements can you make? Do too many people have access to your accounts? Do you need to bring your social efforts back in house instead of outsourcing them? Do you need to increase the time you dedicate to monitoring your accounts? Now is the time to make changes!