Data Security Tips for Marketing Agencies - How to Protect Your Clients’ Social Media Accounts

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or an advertising agency, not much competes with the embarrassment of getting hacked. When a client account is hacked under your care, the client will likely move across to another service, resulting in your reputation taking a hit. All marketing agencies need to take current threats seriously. Cyber-criminals are very real, and they’re very dangerous. With the right steps, you can protect not only your clients but the future of your business too.

Dangers of Social Media

These days, most businesses use social media in their marketing strategies. With its popularity, it has become a hotspot for hackers and other cyber-criminals. Every day businesses make headlines as they suffer at the hands of these dangerous experts. As a marketing agency, you have a responsibility to keep the social media accounts of clients safe. As experts, clients trust their accounts in your hands.

Internal Threats

Although we’ve focused heavily on external threats, we must not forget the internal threats that exist with social media. This could include the following:

  • New employees making mistakes - for example, releasing press conferences early, sending posts with spelling errors, or risking the reputation of the brand in another way.
  • Allowing former employees access to accounts and other sensitive information even after leaving the business on a sour note.
  • Connecting the accounts to too many devices - mobile phones, tablets, and more. This is a problem that has grown since the pandemic and work-from-home orders.
  • Poor communication between client and marketing agency leading to a lack of leadership over the strategy.
  • Poor management of passwords, allowing access to too many people, or writing passwords on post-it notes (or saving them on a public file).

Often, risks inside the business are just as threatening as risks outside the business. This means that your security measures need to address both. Stay tuned to find out our best practices in this guide.

External Threats

Every year, it seems the systems of hackers and cyber-criminals get more and more advanced. The cyber-criminals use complex technology to hack passwords and gain access to social media accounts.

Social media identity theft is a real issue. Hackers are creating fake accounts and communicating with businesses posing as an individual or organization. After one false move, they gain access to sensitive information and the business is in trouble.

Another common threat is when an unknown account or name posts negative things about your clients. Although obviously untrue, the posts will gain attention, which will cause some customers to be nervous to continue their relationship with your clients.

Marketing agencies need to stay on top of all security threats, both internal and external. Read below to see some of the best practices to do so.

Protecting Your Clients’ Social Media Accounts - Best Practices

Ensure You Have Cyber Liability Insurance

As a marketing agency, you shouldn’t operate without first-party cyber insurance, this is a mistake that many new services make every year. While the owner has first-party coverage, the agency itself should have third-party insurance. Normally, coverage extends to the following:

  • Credit monitoring
  • Legal defense
  • Regulatory fines
  • Compensation
  • Forensic/detailed investigations
  • Public relations
  • Customer notification

As an agency in this field, look for an insurer that offers personalized plans. Insurers understand common threats in this niche and offer support for business interruption, data breaches, cyber extortion and liability, and other problems. In this ever-evolving world, choose a plan that suits the business and addresses a variety of threats.

Train All Staff in Correct Procedures

Clients understand that sometimes marketing agencies have interns and new employees. However, what they can’t excuse is poor training leading to a critical mistake. All employees should be trained in the systems used by the agency - this includes the online tools and platforms.

All employees need to understand the importance of dealing with social media accounts carefully. They shouldn’t write passwords on scrap pieces of paper around the office, tell friends and family sensitive details, or take similar liberties in other areas. With the right training, all employees need to be able to deal with clients’ social media accounts with care.

In the world of marketing, discretion has played and will always play a pivotal role. As stated before, all staff should be aware of the standards within the business - the standards themselves should lay out guidelines for all employees in dealing with clients and their social media accounts. Many younger employees have grown up around social media and understand how to use the intricate features. However, what they lack is the legal understanding - what are the implications of their actions and decisions?

You can never be too careful, and regular training for all employees ensures that everybody understands the legal implications that come with managing social media accounts for clients.

Manage Access and Permissions

As a marketing agency, you probably have a team with access to the accounts of clients. Unless a startup, it’s very rare that only one person manages an account. With a team of ten, anywhere between one and ten people will have access to the profiles, pages and passwords. It’s important to understand that hacking becomes easier for cyber-criminals when more people know passwords.

Five people having the password to an account could mean around 15 devices as they manage the account through their laptop, phone, tablet, and other devices. Over time, it’s easy to lose control and suddenly hackers have dozens of access points for a single account.

When making decisions about access, think about what would happen if the client were hacked. Sitting in a meeting with them, you should be able to justify your processes. If 35 people had access to their Facebook account through 81 devices, justification is almost impossible (you may be left red-faced).

At regular intervals, check who has access to passwords and keep the list as small as necessary. When employees leave, remove their access from company systems and change communal passwords. Especially when they leave on bad terms, this means they can’t cause harm to your clients (or you!).

Monitor Automated Systems

Just because you’ve automated certain aspects of the marketing process, doesn’t mean you should forget about the area entirely. Whether you’re using automation to optimize paid ads or maintain a content calendar, ensure that the tool is working properly and doing exactly what you need. Review the performance of automated systems and ensure that no problems exist.

For those pre-drafting content weeks in advance, you’ll need to react to real-world events. The last thing you need is to look insensitive because you didn’t check upcoming content after a major world event.

Practice General Data Security

Follow all the general data security features that all good marketing agencies implement. Cyber-criminals are getting more advanced with their practices, which means you cannot forget the basics. For example, no employee should ever write a password on paper nor should it ever be saved in a public location.

Additionally, update passwords regularly and never send sensitive information through email. When communicating passwords, make sure it’s done in person to colleagues or through another internal method. There’s always a risk of hacking and data breaches when passwords are written down.

Another important process is password creation. The same rules apply to marketing agencies as anybody else with a social media account. Don’t use obvious names, include symbols and other characters to make the password difficult to guess, and read the advice from the platform itself. Often, the website explains how to create a strong password.

Manage Devices and Positive WFH Procedures

Even before the pandemic, lots of businesses were allowing employees to work from home. When doing this, set up measures so that employees connect securely when at home - you don’t want employees accessing clients’ social media accounts from a handful of devices all on an unsecured network.

With more employees working from home, make sure they connect securely and follow all the same company procedures to keep clients safe.

Conclusion

With external and internal threats to social media accounts, you should follow the best practices above to not only prevent security threats for clients but to protect your reputation too. Strong service is the best way to have happy clients and is often the greatest foundation for growth. No marketing agency can ever ensure 100% protection, so it’s also important to have a recovery plan should something go wrong!