In June 2010, global multi-platform and media entertainment company, Mashable, dubbed June 30th as Social Media Day. This is a day that celebrates all the positive aspects of social media, which has revolutionized the way we connect with the world and communicate with one another. Since then, social media has grown even more, and now around 3.5 billion people worldwide have at least one social media profile.

There’s no doubt that social media has become an indispensable tool for businesses everywhere, allowing them to market their services and products efficiently, as well as connect with their customers and provide support in near real-time. Nearly 90% of small businesses claim that social media marketing efforts have increased their business’s exposure.

Businesses are often targets of various cybercrimes, such as impersonation, hackers, advertising campaign scams, and phishing attacks. Because of this, it is essential to ensure the safety and prosperity of your business by protecting all your social media accounts.

The first step to securing your accounts is to select long, unique passwords for each account. Passwords are often the biggest security flaw and are the easiest cyber threat to fix. A secure password is made up of at least 12 characters, using a combination of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Facebook often allows you to sign into multiple different social media platforms using the same “account”. Try not to do that, and instead create separate accounts with different passwords. If you’re worried about forgetting your lengthy passwords, don’t fret. There are numerous free password managers to keep your different passwords secure. All you need to do is remember one “master password”. Another good habit to get into is changing your passwords every six months or so, as this will prevent any accounts becoming vulnerable in the event of a data breach.

As a business, you’re more than likely going to be utilising multiple social media platforms to market your product or service, recruit new employees, and connect with your customers. Sometimes, it’s not possible for one person to handle all the accounts. Therefore, you need to have a Social Media plan or policy in place. This is essentially a guide on how to use social media to the best interest of your business and should detail things like the image you wish to portray online, copyright guidelines, your brand voice, and company confidentiality. If you need to have more than one person handling your social media, it’s essential to know who oversees which accounts. Limiting the number of people who have access to multiple accounts can help reduce the risk of an account being hacked through emails, mobile phones, or computers.

Whilst on the topic of email, you should set up a separate email account to be associated with your social media accounts. The advantage of this is that it can protect other sensitive company data that may be exposed in the event of the account being hacked. Using an employee’s email being address could provide the hacker with other confidential information. Ensure that your password for this email address is as strong and unique as any other password you may use.

Lastly, when setting up social media accounts for your business, you need to enable two-factor authentication to provide an extra layer of security. You can set most social media platforms to send an email to your dedicated social media email address. This way, you’ll know if anyone is attempting to log into your accounts that may not be authorised to.

Protecting your business’s social media accounts is not a once off thing. It needs to be an ongoing process to ensure that your accounts receive the maximum amount of security possible. Once your accounts are properly secured, social media can provide your business with many benefits and opportunities for growth.