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How to Keep Your Social Media Accounts Secure

The original intent of social media was to bring people together. We share our lives with our far-away loved ones and friends and make new friends across time zones and cultural boundaries.

Sound good? If this was the only outcome of millions of humans sharing cat videos and baby photos, the world would be a sweeter place. However, with this intent came something more unfriendly—to put it mildly.

Hackers, marketing companies, and more besides, take and share your informational data for a variety of reasons.  Extreme examples like Cambridge Analytica using your likes and dislikes to influence an election should be enough to give the everyday user a pause for thought.

Let’s take a look at the kinds of security issues that come from social media, and how you can keep yourself and your data safe in a time when everyone is online all the time.

How Is Social Media a Security Risk?

These days, almost everyone with an internet connection or mobile device has at least one social media account. Their methods of use may differ from reading the news to sharing their lives, to updating their professional resume. Regardless of usage, social media is a part of the fabric of modern-day life.

What used to the content of private conversations is more often than not shared in a public space such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Multitudes of strangers have access to your opinions, comments, political leanings, and family concerns.

Bearing this in mind, it’s important to learn how to protect one’s data and privacy while feeling free enough to learn and share on these platforms.

With privacy and security a top priority, enabling best practices for safely using social media will give you peace of mind.

Start with a Strong Password

Password managers are your best friend when it comes to social media protection. A password manager assists in creating random strings of characters that are unique, hard to crack, and also hard to remember. Bearing that in mind, the manager stores these in a safe account that is easily accessible.

Trusted password manager apps are everywhere, but the top ones include:

While you may have numerous accounts that require passwords, these apps keep them all in one place, while diversifying the actual passwords themselves. It is recommended to never use the same password for more than one account. Tools such as Chrome Password Manager will generate unique strings of characters for you

Security Concerns on Facebook

Facebook is the behemoth of all social media.

With an estimated two billion users daily, it can be impossible to avoid. Even if you’ve decided to limit your use of the platform, it can be very difficult to disengage from it entirely. Most users of social media assume others have a presence on Facebook. Think about all the ways in which family, friends, and colleagues use it. Even cultural and entertainment institutions rely on Facebook to announce important events.

Facebook has become our default, despite its faults and shifting demographics, everyone seems to be on it.

Now consider all the problems that arise from this fact. Exposes in the media and documentary films have uncovered widespread hacking and abuse of personal information. Cambridge Analytica harvested personal data on over 50 million Facebook users and used it to alter the course of a democratic election. There’s a saying that ‘If you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product.’

We are still a long way away from any solid implementation of global data rights as human rights law. Therefore, it is up to you, the user, to know how to protect yourself and your digital identity.

Easy Security for your Facebook account:

  • Create a complex Password & store in a Password Manager.
  • If you’re checking your Facebook account from any device other than your home computer or personal cell phone, do not check ‘Keep Me Logged In’.
  • Set up 2FA: Two-Factor Authentication ensures only you can log into your account. This can be enabled inside the ‘Settings’ menu under ‘Setup’.
  • Only accept friend requests from people you already know in the real world, or are within two degrees of separation from your personal network.
  • Report suspicious activity to Facebook.
  • Block accounts that harass or attack you on comment threads.

Next up, Twitter!

Twitter has revolutionized the way we absorb news and media. 

 

With its short bursts of journalism, to its hilarious use of puns and wit, to its unfortunate abuses of fringe ideology and ignorance, this social media platform has changed the game when it comes to information.

You no longer need to scour an entire news blog to follow a story that means a lot to you. Simply locate the journalist on Twitter and follow her, or find the relevant hashtag for the latest updates.

Twitter is also great for self-promotion of your small business, building a network of trusted colleagues, and promoting brands and business practices relevant to your interests.

With the great ability to communicate also comes great risks.

Here are some valuable ways to protect your identity, location and data on Twitter:

  • As with Facebook, begin by creating a complex Password & store in a Password Manager.
  • 2FA is your best friend from now on! Two Factor Authentication should be used wherever and whenever it is offered on a social media platform
  • Go into ‘Settings & Privacy’ and choose ‘Protect my tweets’ for added privacy. This way, only your approved followers can see what you choose to share and say on Twitter.
  • Monitor all third-party apps that have access to your Twitter account. Some of these allow data access, therefore it is wise to limit any third-party capabilities.
  • Don’t accept or click Direct Messages from unknown accounts. They may be phishing attacks or viruses.
  • Don’t forget to log out of any devices that are not your home computer or personal cell phone!

Onward to LinkedIn

Chances are if you’ve ever searched for a job in the last ten years or more, you’ve got a LinkedIn profile.

It’s the world standard for professional networking. This also means it hosts a huge amount of personal data from your location to your professional network and education background. That can be quite tempting for a hacker, identity thief, or third party marketer.

LinkedIn is a haven for phishing attacks, scam artists promising ‘dream jobs’, and the usual hackers that abound all over the internet. With your professional life on the line, you can’t afford not to put privacy practices into place on this platform that is the global standard for resume hosting.

What you can do on LinkedIn:

  • Starting with the password, begin by creating a complex Password & store in a Password Manager.
  • Think carefully about what data you wish to share on LinkedIn. Only post the most essential professional details about yourself. If you already have a resume or CV up, go over it and remove anything that seems like oversharing.
  • Check what third-party apps are authorized to connect your LinkedIn. Sometimes these are outside job boards or old application processes. Delete any that are not in use.
  • Be wary of direct messages from unknown recruiters or countries where you’ve never done business. Practice internet savvy and don’t trust every message that comes into your inbox!
  • Keep track of where you apply for jobs and how you’ve shared your LinkedIn profile.

Picture Perfect Privacy: Instagram

Who doesn’t love pretty pictures?

Instagram’s popularity has soared in recent years. What used to be a niche photo-sharing site, has beaten the old standard Flickr and risen to the top in popularity. It’s platform encourages the exploration of beautiful landscapes, fabulous parties, and gorgeous fashions. It also allows for story-sharing, hashtag following, linking to other profiles, and conversation threads.

The good thing about Instagram is that you can make your profile completely private from prying eyes. This doesn’t stop your handle from being linked, however, if the average user, or bot, who is not in your curated followers list has no ability to see your photos. For a platform with more than 1 billion active users, privacy is a concern.

How to make sure no one is accessing your IG account:

  • As with all other social media platforms, set your password with a unique string of numbers and characters.
  • Enable 2FA (two-factor authentication).
  • Consider changing your passwords every few months as an extra precaution against fraud. Do NOT use the password twice.
  • Monitor any third-party apps you may have already approved, and disable any that are not in use.
  • Do not geo-tag your photos. Disable geotagging that allows your location to be shown when you post a photograph.
  • Do not hashtag your location unless absolutely necessary. For example, if you’re posting a photo of a hotel where you stayed a few months ago, that may not be leaking sensitive information. But if you’re currently on vacation and away from your home—which is now empty—you may want to re-think posting that Instagram photo.

Staying Safe Online

Following these basic instructions for security and privacy is good practice for making them the normal way you go about using social media.

As you can see, most of them employ common sense and good password implementation. Familiarize yourself with the unique differences of each social media platform your information is on, and make the adjustments necessary for a safe user experience.

In the latest documentary, The Great Hack, the protagonist Wheatland called for Facebook to be regulated as a utility and said: “every company is a data company today, and how that data is ethically managed needs to spread through all companies.”

The reality of strong regulations is a long way off. As social media dominates our intellectual and emotional landscape, we have to be vigilant to protect ourselves whilst still be able to enjoy sharing our lives with, and learning from, others across the world.

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Twelve Reasons Why every Business Needs Pinterest Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, social media engagement is the best way to go. The question is, which social media would you go for? If you have already created a Facebook page, then you then you have made a great start. Your next step should be pinning with the queen of visual social media networks, Pinterest.

Shareaholic.com reveals that Pinterest has increased its traffic driving capacity up to 7.10% from 4.79% in just three months (from December 2013 to March 2014). This 48% increase has a huge effect for brand exposure through digital marketing in products such as books, magazines, antiques, services, and even IT/computing.

Pinterest is a social media platform based mostly on images. For more than four years, you increase your social network by pins of uploaded, saved, and shared photos which are then organized into pinboards. It can be compared to Facebook as it has an increasing number of fans reaching over 70 million and still continues to grow. If you want your business to be big, here’s why you should go ahead and start pinning and start some Pinterest marketing.

Reasons to start Pinterest marketing

Here are some top tips to start Pinterest marketing today!

 1. Strengthen Your Brand

With Pinterest, you could personalize your page to your business name and your logo as your profile picture to reach maximum exposure every time you pin an image. You could also add a paragraph describing the nature of your business including your business website, and even link this to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. If your business involves different types of services or products, you could categorize them into different pinboards for easier navigation.

2. Drive Heavy Traffic

To drive traffic for your website, Pinterest provides a hover button which leads directly to your site. This is beneficial for users to pin images directly from your site and check your site as well. You do not even have to worry on how to use Pinterest for your business, Pinterest has a guided editor which helps you navigate through the pages without breaking a sweat.

3. Market Research

Pinterest gives you an overview of the trend in the market and what appeals to customers most. You may think that most Pinterest users are women but these women still have husbands and male friends who they would want to give gifts to or shop for. By the way they build pinboards and pin things, you see what makes them tick as a customer and the other products that are trending.

Photo by Bunches and Bits {Karina} via Flickr

4. Gain New Customers

Once your pin has started to gain popularity in various pinboards, you still get a hefty amount of views even when these are pinned or not. Imagine a billboard along a highway, these are seen by the public and could still win them over as long as it stays there. If pinned and shared by various users, you have a higher chance of gaining new customers in the process.

5. Be An Authority In Your Line Of Business

Since you are able to do market research, you can change and focus your ways on how to be an authority in Pinterest. With the right amount and quality of photos and descriptions, you could easily target these descriptions to what most new Pinterest users would want.

6. Free Marketing From Your Fans

Just like Instagram and Facebook, Pinterest makes use of the followers and images that need to increase their popularity. The more the photo or image is interesting, the higher the chances of being pinned by other users. You don’t have to spend more money on a separate content marketing strategy, all you have to invest on is the right description and the quality image that you could pin.

7. Customer Engagement Through Contests

You could increase customer engagement through contests. With Pinterest, you could try hosting a photo contest of the best photo with your business logo on them. This will definitely initiate a pinning spree all over the world with your logo which is an instant marketing for your product. Your brand is being shared not only to you but to their friends as well which are potential or current customers of your product.

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

8. Widen Product Exposure

This has been said a number of times above, but the point is Pinterest is often linked to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media websites so expect to have numerous customers with just one pin.

9. Boost The Sales

Scattering photos all over Pinterest increases exposure to different pinners and boosts your product sales. You may create different pinboards for every target audience you have which, with the right board name, entice these potential customers to patronize your business. Also, part of the sales process should also include the company’s target, vision, and mission.

10. Longer Post Exposure

According to WebpageFX, the average lifespan of a Pinterest pin is three and a half months, which is 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post. Overtime, as your pin gets to be shared with other users, it still continues to spread like wildfire. You don’t have to repeat the pin over and over again to achieve this exposure. Wisemetrics.com shares that a Tweet achieves the peak of its views and retweets in 24 minutes and then dies, a Facebook post could live 90 nute half-life at best, but a Pinterest pin lives for forever. Pinterest makes it easier to search for your product not only on your page but also on other pages as well.

Photo by Kris Olin via Flickr

11. Excellent SEO Strategy

With the way Pinterest works, keywords are still important. If you google keywords, most of the time a pinterest page comes up with numerous pinboards in it containing the product or the search item.

12. Free Sales Promotion

You don’t need to hire anyone to do the pinning for you. Get a great shot, work on the words, and post it online. Viola! Free marketing! You don’t need to spend a dime on this and this works 24/7.

Why use Pinterest for your business? Pinterest is not just about fashion and other girly stuff. With the rate pinning takes your business, you might just need to start pinning it!

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