Last Updated on April 8, 2016
Many businesses – big and small – are turning to social media to build up their brand names, acquire more customers, and provide effective customer support for their clients. Social media sites are among the most visited websites, so businesses are taking advantage of this platform to reach a large population of users.
Why social media is good for business
Multinational and domestic businesses alike benefit immensely from social media sites. First of all, marketing your business using these sites will not cost you an arm and a leg compared to advertising in newspapers, television and radio. Small businesses with small marketing budgets can easily compete with global companies for new customers using social media. As a business owner, you can also use social media’s targeted advertising to ensure that you get your message across to the demographic user you’re aiming to reach.
Having an online presence on social media will also grant you access to a large number of people – people who spend a lot of time on social networks to communicate with their friends, family, acquaintances, and even long-lost grade school classmates. Facebook and Twitter are full of these people, making these social networking sites two of the most visited websites to date. With more people using social media, it’s going to be easier for your business to become well known and acquire more customers.
The bad side of using social media
However great a medium Twitter or Facebook can be, there are still several disadvantages to using social media. One of the downsides to using Twitter, for example, is your business becoming a victim of social media identity theft. It’s basically similar to identity theft where a criminal steals your identity; in this case, however, the criminal steals your social media identity in order to mislead or confuse existing and possible customers. This could be harmful to your business as your reputation could be damaged, leading to a loss of customers.
Protecting your business identity on Twitter
There are ways to protect your business from social media identity theft especially if you’re on Twitter. The site allows you to add a URL to your Twitter profile, so use this to add a link to your official business site. Similarly, add links on your business site and other social media accounts directing users to your Twitter account. Additionally, if your desired business name is already taken (because perhaps it’s very common, or because another user has already taken that handle), you can note in your biography that this account is the official Twitter account of your business.
Twitter actually encourages businesses to have an online presence in its network, going as far as having a dedicated landing page for businesses and offering various advertising opportunities. In light of this, the site has a policy regarding trademarks and logos. If you own the trademark for your business name and somebody else is using that particular handle, Twitter might grant you ownership of that account especially if the original user’s original intention is to cause intentional confusion with your business. However, if the site finds the account holder is using a handle similar to your business name without the intention to cause harm, they might let you and the user come to an agreement and grant you the account name.
Another way to prevent ID theft of your business name on Twitter is to customize your profile. Make sure that your profile matches your business’ color scheme, logo and branding to make your Twitter account easily identified with your business.
Protecting your business beyond social media
You shouldn’t stop with Twitter and other social media sites when it comes to protecting your brand.
One of the major reasons why a criminal opts to commit identity theft is monetary gain. In the case of your business, stealing your business identity (even if it’s just on social media) can still spell trouble for you. A clever criminal can use your business identity to convince banks and lenders that he is actually the owner so he can take out loans and apply for a new line of credit. The crook can easily go on a shopping spree or access your bank account if he’s skilled enough in committing ID theft and fraud.
Remember that criminals find businesses far more appealing targets than people simply because your business’ bank account is assumed to contain a bigger amount of money than an individuals. Monitor all activities related to your business. Check your business credit report regularly for suspicious activities such as unexpected or inexplicable bills and expenses. By checking credit reports frequently, you’ll be able to spot ID theft signs and help prevent fraudulent transactions from happening.
Protecting your customers
You also owe it to your customers to protect them from whatever effects might arise from having your Twitter account or other social media accounts compromised. If a criminal is intentionally using a handle similar to your business name, they can easily confuse your customers about your products and services. Worse, a criminal using your compromised business Twitter account can persuade your customers into giving up personal or banking information, as well as their Twitter account details.
Social media identity theft is no joke; falling victim to it can easily bring the company you worked hard to establish to its knees.