James Caan: how to keep safe on Twitter

When I joined Twitter in 2008 I knew it was going be big for business, but I couldn’t have foreseen how it would revolutionise online customer service, marketing and recruitment.

But as much as it presents small businesses with a huge opportunity, it has its challenges.

When using any social media platform you have to remember there are risks involved. I implement security strategies to ensure that no one can access my information. Imagine if someone was to hack into my account and start sending out virus links to my followers or started to impersonate me. This would have a damaging impact to my businesses.

Social media strategies require planning and time to ensure the right foundations are in place. Done correctly the return on investment can be huge, and the risks can be negated before you start.

To get your small business on the right track, I’ve teamed up with Symantec to offer you helpful tips on how to keep your customer information and business reputation safe whilst making the most of social media:

1. Proceed with caution

Talk to employees and create a plan that can be rolled out in the event of your account getting hacked. This could include instructing employees to immediately change the account password, notify the network of what has happened, and explain that actions are being taken to resolve the situation.

2. Don’t accept links from strangers

Tell employees to be conscientious of who is being added to the company’s network and avoid clicking on links from unfamiliar followers. Shortened links can contain traps to malware and infect your computer system if opened.

3. Assign a ringleader

Appoint one person to monitor and manage each social media tool. They can act as the gate keeper and manage who and how many people need account access.

4. Decide between guidelines and policies

Avoid uncomfortable situations where employees talk about their work online by educating them correctly on the official company social media policy. Guidelines provide a level of direction, while policies help protect the company more by providing a level of accountability in case the company reputation and credibility is put at risk.

5. Regularly update your passwords

The passwords you create should be strong (eight characters or more made up of a combination of letters, numbers and symbols) and regularly changed so that there is no risk to the business when employees leave. Normally I would suggest that you shouldn’t keep a copy on file but in a business environment this isn’t always an option. If you do need to keep them somewhere accessible they should be kept in a safe, secure place only a few people should be informed where that is.

James Caan was formerly a Dragon on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den.

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