Protecting your business reputation against the inside job

By | July 26th, 2013|Uncategorized|

social_mediaThis guest blog post comes from Jasmine McNealy, Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky and privacy and law blogger at Unmasking Doe.

In late January of this year HMV, a British music store franchise, laid off 190 employees. Although unfortunate, this would seem a pretty benign occurrence. Brick and mortar music stores have been disappearing from the landscape for a while now, victims of both the economy and fierce competition from online competitors. No, the layoff was not the story so much as the news surrounding the layoff meetings.

During one such meeting an employee about to be fired used the HMV twitter account to live-tweet the firings. Multiple tweets, that were later deleted, appeared on the HMV timeline detailing how many people they thought were being fired as well as expressing frustration with the entire process. The tweeter also noted that they accessed the account using an unsecured password. All the tweets were available to all over 62,000 @hmvtweets followers and the public.

The rogue employee, later identified as former community manager Poppy Rose, claimed that she used the company account to tweet because she thought she was in the best position to express her frustration with the layoffs. She also added that she had attempted to educate HMV management about the power of social media, and had been rebuffed.

She definitely made her point.

Social media is a powerful tool for building a brand and connecting with customers in real-time. Social media like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., allow companies, both large and small, to build and manage their reputations. And the use of social media is only increasing. According to a white paper by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, of 2100 companies surveyed, over 79% were either using social media or planning to launch a social media campaign.

Many reasons exist for businesses to use social media. Intuit found that small businesses use social media for three main reasons: connecting with customers (28%), visibility (27%), and self-promotion (26%). All of these reasons, in addition to some of the lesser reasons provided, are about companies desiring to build and maintain their reputations, or social capital, with potential customers.

But the planning, implementation and use of social media by businesses require that someone be in charge of the social media accounts. And it is not so much having someone in charge of the accounts, but also being vigilant and monitoring what is being distributed to the public through those channels. The HMV saga above demonstrates what could happen if businesses does not maintain control of their social media channels.

Companies can take certain steps to help manage their social media reputation:

  1. Password maintenance: All social media accounts, whether blogs, Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts, etc., require login information. Managers should always know or have access to the social media login information. This way, when important announcements are made, the company can control the distribution of information and, if need be, lockdown the account before it is used without proper authorization.
  2. Password strength: It is not always the threat from the inside that should worry companies, but the outside as well. Companies like Paypal, Cheerios and Fox News have all experienced what can happen when hackers gain entry into their social media accounts. Companies should, therefore, create strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack. This may include passphrases, or a string of words used in place of the traditional single word.
  3. Vigilance: Perhaps above all, businesses must monitor their social media accounts and the use of their name or product in conversations on social media. This allows companies to understand how they are currently viewed by the public by engaging in sentiment analysis, as well as to control potential problems before they begin.

Our SXSWi Panel Picks

By | March 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|

sxsw2013Austin is a-buzz with preparations for the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival, and we’re so excited for it to kick off! For those of you attending this year’s events, here is a list of panels covering biometrics, identity, big data including healthcare, reputation management and privacy. And if you’re still in search of a place to stay, don’t forget to enter our giveaway before 3/6! See you at SXSWi!

Friday, March 8

I Know Where You’re Going: Location as Biometric

  • Summary: This session will discuss location data as the ultimate biometric identifier, including the legal and technical aspects of location information as biometrics, what this means for privacy and civil liberties and what consumers can do about it.
  • Speakers: Jennifer Lynch, attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Jeff Jonas, IBM
  • Date/Location: Friday, March 8, 3:30 – 4:30 pm, Radisson Town Lake

The New Nature vs Nurture: Big Data & Identity

  • Summary: Increasing availability of data changes how we are able to know and define ourselves – at the risk of being defined by algorithms that we can’t control
  • Speakers: Jen Lowe, Assoc Research Scholar, Columbia University Spatial Information Design Lab and Molly Steenson, Asst. professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Date/Location: Friday, March 8, 5 – 6 pm, Radisson Town Lake


Saturday, March 9

Who Owns the Data? Self-Tracking to Health 2.0

  • Summary: While the healthcare system is in the midst of reform, what must we do to put the massive quantities of data it holds to more efficient use for the community?
  • Speakers: John Wilbanks, chief common officer, Sage Bionetworks and Martha Wofford, vp consumer platform, Aetna
  • Date/Location: Saturday, March 9, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Sheraton Austin


Monday, March 11

Privacy in a Location-Based World

  • Summary: A discussion on the boundaries of privacy and location-based services
  • Speaker: Damien Patton, Founder/CEO, Banjo
  • Date/Location: Monday, March 11, 5 – 6 pm, Sheraton Austin


Tuesday, March 12

Privacy in the Age of Augment Reality

  • Summary: What will privacy and anonymity mean in the coming age of augmented reality – a future where online and offline data will seamlessly blend?
  • Speaker: Alessandro Acquisti, professor at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Date/Location: Tuesday, March 12, 9:30 – 10:30 am, Radisson Town Lake

What’s in a name? Anonymity, Then and Now

  • Summary: A legal and historical look at the anonymity and anonymous speech on the internet
  • Speakers: Nabiha Syed, a First Amendment lawyer, and Katie Engelhart, a historian and author
  • Date/Location: Tuesday, March 12, 3:30 – 4:30 PM, Austin Convention Center

Reputation as Currency: Is the Resume Extinct?

  • Summary: What happens when online trust and social reputation move beyond the commerce space? Could online reputation replace traditional validation engines?
  • Speaker: Leah Busque, TaskRabbit, Founder and CEO
  • Date/Location: Tuesday, March 12, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Austin Convention Center
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