On the surface, social media marketing seems fairly straightforward: push out your company’s core message and promotions, build up and engage a follower base, and reap the benefits of increased traffic and ROI. 

But take a harder look at social, and you’ll see brands exposing themselves to an abundance of security risks amongst all the tweets, posts, snaps and shared information. 

From hashtag hijacking to online piracy (a global annual cost of over $70 billion), social media has become one of the most dynamic threat vectors, where hackers and scammers are aggressively finding new ways to exploit social networks.

The Social Risk Goes Beyond Reputation

Historically, marketing and information security teams have rarely interacted — and it’s easy to see why as they operate on very different wavelengths. Marketers want to build their brand as quickly as possible, and don’t want to be bogged down by security procedures every time they tweet or post. 

Security professionals, on the other hand, want to mitigate risk, and seek to place controls over all communication platforms and systems. 

Although marketing professionals may be aware of the reputational risks posed by social media (think a disgruntled customer or controversial commenter), cyber risks — such as social spearphishing, account hijacking and credential harvesting — aren’t always top of mind. 

Marketing is usually unequipped to handle these newly evolved social cyber risks alone. And while security teams are tasked with protecting the organization from all potential information, technology and digital threats, they must do so while enabling the connectivity and engagement that marketing departments depend on. 

In this modern business environment, both departments have no choice but to work collaboratively. 

Here are a few ways marketing teams can efficiently and effectively work with security teams to grow a brand safely:

1. Purge Impersonators and “Dirty” Followers

Marketers work hard to build a strong brand on their social media accounts with a wide follower base, crafting personalized messages that resonate with their target audience. So wouldn’t it make sense to ensure that only you control your brand on all digital channels?  

Marketing and security teams can coordinate with one another to perform regular security checks, weeding out fake accounts, potential hackers and impersonators. Take the first step now by searching the social networks for mis-spelled variations of your brand name, your account names, your hashtags and other key words. Then, notify the social networks and request to have them taken down. 

A clean social community is crucial.

2. Keep Security in the Loop Around Social Initiatives and Campaigns

Marketing professionals should communicate with security teams when they are activating their brand on new social networks or launching major new campaigns – this includes explaining how they plan to leverage the social networks, which employees and systems will be involved, what digital assets will be used, and the overarching goals. 

In turn, the security team should highlight active security threats and provide tips to protect their activities. Take the first step now and book a meeting to review your top social media campaign with your security team. 

3. Train Marketing and Sales Teams on Safe Social Media Practices

One of the easiest ways to make the marketing team more cyber-aware is to promote social media security best practices through training and regular audits of activity.

Encourage social account managers to incorporate best practices into their routines like enabling two factor authentication, resetting passwords regularly, avoiding “phishy” links just like you would on email, identifying and flagging malicious social profiles, etc.

4. Form a Social Media Security Team Task Force

The size and makeup of this group can differ across each organization, but should ideally include a security, marketing and an IT executive. 

This group should start by defining social media security strategy, identifying and deploying best practices and controls, and then tracking and addressing current, relevant risks on social media. 

For example, CEO Twitter hacks are becoming increasingly common — knowing who is carrying out these attacks and how to avoid them is crucial to keeping the brand’s integrity intact.

Marketing teams cannot succeed independently. Social media has become a primary platform for conducting business in the modern world, and as companies continuously expand their presence, security teams must work alongside marketing to ensure it’s done safely.

One scam is all it takes to impact the top line and one breach is all it takes to impact the bottom line. 

At the end of the day, by working together, security and marketing teams can propel the business forward on social and digital.

Title image Mike Wilson