Has Social Media Left You Scrambling to Protect Your Brand? It Should!
A friend called in a panic this week. Someone had created a fake Facebook profile using her name, photo and even pictures of her family. This impersonator then proceeded to post obscene photos and invite her friends to connect on this fake page. This creepy impersonator did not hack in to my friend's personal account. This impersonator simply created a new account using a name and photos from someone else's account.
We live in a different world today. We live in a world where it is now critical to monitor our brands. Whether that brand is a Fortune 100 company, a coffee shop, or a teen about to enter high school. Our personal and professional brands need constant management today, because there are so many places we have left digital footprints…or Google tracks. And some might think that avoiding social media sites all together is the answer, but like the ostrich who hides his head hoping when he looks up the danger will be gone, the danger is there with or without our participation. In this case of my friend, the creepy impersonator could have created this fake account just as easy with or without her being on social media.
So whether you are feeling a little paranoid, or you haven't given this a thought, here are some things you can (and should) do this week to begin monitoring and protecting your precious brand.
1. Google Your Name or Your Brand's Name
At least once every month or so, do a quick Google search. See where your name pops up. If you have a common name, or nothing comes up when you search for your name, don't sit back smiling. Invisibility is not always a good thing. One bad mention somewhere and it is front and center. If you have been creating content; blog content or social sharing content on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+, one negative or non-flattering post can be easily pushed down with your regular content. For young people, entering the job marketing soon, this can be a very important distinguishing factor. Is your name attached to smart content, no content, or the frat party content on someone else's Facebook page?
2. Set Up Google Alerts for Your Name and Your Brand's Name
This is a simple, yet effective tool to keep tabs on your brand. Go to Google Alerts and create free alerts using your name (and don't forget to put your name in quotation marks to avoid being sent alerts on every mention of every person sharing your first OR last name) and your company's brand. I recommend adding the misspelling of your name as well, since many times people are talking about you or your brand but they are just spelling it incorrectly and you many never know.
With Google Alerts, you can have the alerts go to an RSS feed, if you use one regularly to read your favorite blog or news feeds, or have the alerts sent straight to your email. Alerts can be great for monitoring other things like keyword mentions, or your competition, in which case you may want those alerts to come once a week, but when it comes to monitoring your name and brand, you want to be notified AS IT HAPPENS!
3. Use Social Monitoring Tools Like Mention
If you use social sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and you are on them occasionally, you might be using a social dashboard like Hootsuite or SproutSocial. These tools allow you to set up search queries with your name and your brand's name and look regularly.
4. Now Let's Do a Privacy Check Up on Facebook
You should be doing a privacy checkup on your Facebook accounts ever few months. The good news is, Facebook has made it a little easier to understand. Look for the little Privacy Icon in the upper right corner of your Facebook profile.
Not only should you adjust who can see what, but it is time to clean up your 3rd-party apps that you've added over the years. These are things that you may have used Facebook to login with, or you agreed to allow this app to share information on Facebook. The problem with Facebook apps (and they are getting better) is they leave your account vulnerable. Go through the list and remove any old or unused app.
Go through the PROFILE section on your Facebook account and remove the YEAR you were born from being seen and perhaps your phone number. Facebook requires us to put our age for their legal purposes since you legally create a Facebook profile if you are under 13 (not like those kids don't know the workaround on that one!) .
The bottom line to all of this is, brand management is a daily (and sometimes hourly) task for companies today, and whether or not you are using social media personally, you must learn to monitor your brand and all the activity that could be going on with or without you. Let us know if we can be of assistance, and BE SAFE OUT THERE!