Communication Matters - our blog on trends and events


Protecting Your Brand In the Age of the “Twitter Hack”

Protecting your brand is harder than ever in the digital age. Social media gives everyone a “voice” and provides a platform for users to say anything they want about your brand. And, as was the case this week, malicious users sometimes take it a step further – not just saying things about your brand, but providing a “rebranding” you hadn’t counted on.

Take the latest cases of Twitter hacking: Burger King (@BurgerKing), Jeep (@Jeep), MTV (@MTV) and BET (@BET) had their Twitter accounts hacked, and all were rebranded to a competitor brand and overtaken with a barrage of obscenities and otherwise unseemly messages. And those incidents were not limited to social media – many media outlets, including the Associated Press and Mashable, reported on the hacks as news stories.

What can your company learn from these incidents? And how can you protect your brand against being exploited? Here are a few ideas:

  • SAFEGUARD YOUR PASSWORDS. This includes creating complex passwords for your social media accounts, as well as regular updating of passwords as needed. For example, did someone who had access to your social media accounts recently leave your company or the agency that managed your company’s social media accounts? Or is your password simply YourBrand123?  Institute a rigorous password protocol that will help safeguard your company against possible hacks, and keep a current list of everyone who has access to your accounts.
  • ABM – ALWAYS BE MONITORING. In the age of social media, hacks can go viral in a matter of minutes. While the hacks that occurred this week were against large national brands, there’s nothing saying your company’s brand might not suffer the same fate. There are a number of cost-effective tools that can minimize the time and money you have to put toward monitoring your brand in the social space, and your agency partners can likely help with this task if you’re short-staffed. The minimal resources it takes to regularly monitor are a smart investment given the potential brand risk. Diligent social media monitoring can help ensure you will become aware of issues as soon as they arise, minimizing the amount of time a rogue hacker might have control of your message – and your company’s brand
  • DEVELOP A SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS PLAN – BEFORE ANYTHING HAPPENS. What happens if your brand does fall victim to a social media hack? Create a plan – before anything happens – that will ensure swift and comprehensive handling of the situation. Consider adding a social media protocol to your company’s crisis preparedness manual or creating a decision tree to help you determine the best plan of attack if your company’s digital presence is compromised.

So you think you’re safe because your brand isn’t active on social networks? Even if you don’t have an established social media presence, anyone could exploit your brand by creating a fake account or using your company’s brand in an unflattering way. Do you have a plan in place to address those issues if they arise?

If you’re interested in talking further about how to protect your brand in the age of the “Twitter hack,” including how we might be able to assist with your monitoring needs, contact Marketing Communications practice leader Lisa Zone at, or on Twitter at @lzone.

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