Keeping up with online brand abuse in social media can seem like an endless task.
From impersonation and counterfeiting to phishing and fake promotions, scams are taking place across social platforms. Likes, re-tweets, and follows proliferate messages quickly and it’s a nightmare when fake offers or counterfeit promotions spread like wildfire.
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A brand's responsibility
The expectation is that it’s the brand owner’s responsibility to stay on top of it. In fact, did you know that 86% of consumers expect brand owners to protect them from these types of scams? Often, when a consumer falls victim to a social media scam, they inevitably (and unfortunately) blame a brand.
Decision-makers must be extra cautious with protection strategies. Brand owners don’t want to be overly aggressive and need to allow ample space for consumers to speak freely about a brand. Yes, that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Here are some best practices for brand owners to consider as part of their brand protection program:
Determine which social media sites are the “official” platforms, and have a brand protection plan for those vs. non-official platforms. You want to make sure you prioritize your official channels and ensure that consumers are well-protected from brand infringements in these platforms. For non-official channels, do not entirely ignore them – you should still be monitoring them occasionally to ensure there’s nothing truly damaging to your brand. Having technology to facilitate this will truly enable you to do this successfully.
Conduct landscapes assessments every 6 months, or annually. Know where you have the most brand infringements, and make sure you prioritize efforts where you see most damage.
- Proactively register your brand(s) on social media. Some platforms are “first comes first serve”, so even if you are the legitimate trademark owner, you may not be able to have your brand name on a platform. An impersonator, counterfeiter or even a competitor may register for your brand first and create confusion and damage to your brand.
- Be strategic about enforcing! Do not pick on consumers, or haters, and try not to come across as defensive. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right and should be respected. Brand owners should be very familiar with the platforms terms and conditions and take appropriate action when appropriate. If there’s anything that is clearly infringing and damaging to the brand, take action.
- Have a social media policy in place for internal employees as well as business partners. If you have third party partners that are selling products on your behalf – make sure that they follow your social media policy. You want to make sure that they represent your brand in the approved manner. Also, internally, all employees should abide best practices and report back on any (potential) brand infringements. As part of policy best practices, make sure you implement a strong password policy. That should include – complex passwords, two-factor authentications and encourage single sign-on. Make sure you try to maximize security around your social media accounts.
- When possible, get your page verified. If the platform offers the option to verify your page – then brand owners should apply and get the page verified. The verification lets consumers know that your page is the legitimate account.
- Educate employees and consumers. Openly sharing and promoting awareness will help consumers make smarter decisions – and are less likely to fall victim to a counterfeit or fraudulent attack.