Posted by : Amanda Stein Saturday, April 20, 2013

In February of this year, people who follow @BurgerKing on Twitter woke up to some strange news. At first glance, it seemed something was very wrong, that or McDonalds had brought out their biggest competitor!

It wasn't very long until word spread on social sites such as that, indeed, Burger Kings' Twitter account had been hacked. The hold on the account lasted several hours and, ironically, the account gained approximately 2,000 links from websites citing the incident and an incredible thirty thousand new followers! It wasn't until later in the day when Twitter and Burger King finally regained control over the account. In the aftermath of the event, there are lessons to be learned.

Being from a digital marketing background these figures speak for themselves and the old saying is true (especially in the case of larger organisations) “Any publicity is good publicity” - PT Barnum Just look at how many more followers and link equity they have, this is arguably the best piece of digital marketing Burger King have ever done.

I thought I’d take the time to reflect on this before you consider this any further, companies like Burger King are international brands, with hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of customers globally – if my employers Twitter account was hacked, it’s highly likely that we would lose followers, rather than gain them. That being said here are some tips to help you and your business ensure that your Twitter accounts remains secure:

Secure Passwords Are Important

The common belief is that Burger Kings' old password was 'cheese', or ‘whopper123’. It is important to understand that maintaining secure passwords on the web is vitally important. Tough passwords are hard to remember, but even harder to guess, I have heard good things about LastPass for password management.

Follow Your Business Twitter Account Yourself

You will be the first to know if you follow the account, why not setup alerts for when something is posted.

Everybody Is a Target

It doesn't matter if you're a small business, a medium sized company, or a corporate giant.

Bad Things Happen; How You React Is More Important

Burger Kings' reaction when the storm was finally over was perfect. It was moderately light humoured, and slightly apologetic. They didn't blame anyone, over react, or give away anything to "make up" for any perceived losses. They simply shrugged it off, and moved forward, showing a mature position in today's ever changing online world. – Perhaps it was a PR stunt?

If Your Customers Trust You, They'll fight For You

Burger King has spent decades developing trust relationships surrounding their brand. When the hack first took place, concerned individuals attempted to contact employees at Burger King to let them know what was happening. Others were quick to publish their own tweets telling others to disregard anything that was said on Burger Kings Twitter feed until they regained control over it. Customer relationships are about more than having repeat business - it's about people trusting your business, feeling an attachment to your business, and a personal connection with the products your business sells.

Small businesses need to have a social presence online these days, but must do everything possible to ensure the security, stability, and trustworthiness of that presence. For some people, social media will be the only form of interactive communication they have with a company. It is tremendously important to keep those lines of communication open, while at the same time ensuring the security of them.

Isaac works in the field of digital marketing, spends time cycling and crowd sourcing and from time to time blogging. He works with Aon Hewitt the human capital consultants, Richmond University and Ark Clothing. If you have a comment about my article or any feedback please place them below or connect with him on Google+.

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