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5 Social Media Tips for Marketers

August 7, 2009

Last night tier-one social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were subject to a huge attack (known as distributed denial of service –DDoS). It got me thinking as to how many marketers now just starting out with social media might be negatively impacted by today’s big news? I hope none!

Imagine that you’ve set up an event and you’re projecting aggregated tweets onto a large screen for all the attendees to see. Or that you’ve set up a competition on Facebook that runs for 24 hours. Would you shrug your shoulders and say ‘that’s just the Internet,’ or would you be seriously concerned?

Hacker attacks and DDOS are nothing new, but I don’t think there is massive awareness as to some of the risks that marketers and communicators need to factor in when using the internet – esp. if you’re leveraging a third-party platform that you don’t have direct control over. Don’t get me wrong, this in no way is supposed to be a ‘the Internet is too scary to use’ post(!!), but I do believe that last night’s events reinforce how important it is for brands and agencies to have a deep and ongoing understanding of the platform that they’re working with.

To that end, I came up with my 5 Social Media Tips for Marketers:

1. First rule of using technology – always have at least one back-up plan. We’ve all had the situation where the PC or projector wouldn’t work at an important presentation and out have come the print-outs, or flip-charts. Even though the cloud is very robust at the moment, fortunately, many social media platforms allow you to download client versions that you can run if the live connection doesn’t work. You can also load your content up to multiple sharing sites if one doesn’t work and try to have a broadband USB connector, just in case the internet doesn’t work like it should at your venue.

2. Be extra vigilant if embedding content from a third-party site (e.g. Youtube, Slideshare etc) onto a corporate or branded website. Create super-strong passwords and limit then number of people who have access to them. Often if content from third-party links are changed, the link stops working. However, the last thing you want to see is someone else’s mash-up of your CEO’s speech playing on your home page.

3. Reduce the risk of phishing. If you’re going to use email to communicate with customers or consumers, be very public about what email address/domain people can expect to see things from and publish a list of guidelines on your site about what people should and shouldn’t expect from you (e.g. you wont ask for their back details).

4. Where possible, moderate. Hashtags are an awesome marketing tool, but the issue is when someone starts to also use your hashtag in a less than complimentary fashion – is a great example of this and why they ask for your age before you can log in. If you’re all for free speech, then all good, otherwise you can use third-party software to moderate tweets that appear at your event (but won’t work for Also, if you have a corporte (or personal) blog, make sure comments are set for moderation first before they are published – this is good standard practice and should be outlined in a social media policy.

5. Always believe there’s someone out there smarter than you who doesn’t like you! It may or may not be conincidence that the largest hacker’s conference in the world happened the week before last night’s outage. The number of people with amazing hacking skills is huge. I suggest a psychology of ‘what if they gun for me?’ is taken into any planning to create a program that balances the risks and opportunities of the internet. Again, this is not fear-mongering, it’s good common sense.

Maybe we should also celebrate the fact that our timezones mean many of these DDoS attacks happen while we (and our customers) are safely tucked up in bed.

That’s my quick thoughts – there is no doubt another DDoS is around the corner – keen to hear any other of your tips to add to the list!


Please note: this is a mirror of a post I wrote for the MEDIA blog.

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