The hidden dangers of social media data

Marketers are well aware of the ever-expanding value of social media. The finer details of the future may be foggy: Which social media networks will prove staying power? Which ones will fizzle out? What's the next big thing? But one thing is for sure: Social media and marketing have got a good thing going.

But it's easy to look at the big picture with rose-colored glasses -- it's even easier to make vague commentary about the encouraging state of the industry. As marketers are concerned with the stability of accounts and careers, it's important to consider the potential risks of the social media suffusion.

What's the trouble?

Social media accounts tend to contain small amounts of personal information. While these bits and pieces might be perfectly harmless on their own, an overflow of sensitive information may result in a full-on security breach for a marketing team.

The eradication of privacy is a timely topic in just about every news outlet. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there's no denying that social media is a big contributor to the increasingly transparent format of info sharing -- both for public and private data. 

So what do we do?

The public eye is privy to so much more than it was even ten years ago. Fortunately, social media marketers have the power to set a tone of responsibility and discretion in accessing data. Leading by example, social media marketers can set the tone for responsible online behavior.

Two quick tips

Security experts will give you surface-level advice about consolidating your accounts and securing your machines. For example look at this blog post. Notice a resemblance? They're good tips, but there's so much more to it if you're responsible for a brand or organization. It's not just your mommy blog or parody Twitter account you're representing. It's an entire entity -- one that's much bigger than you alone.

Pay attention to your mobile device and control your privacy settings

Erring on either of these can be costly. Cell phone theft is rising nationwide. Phones are one the easiest, most accessible targets for thieves. Between back pockets and knapsacks, criminals don't have to look high and low to find them. Make sure you're particularly careful about where you place your mobile device. And it's also a smart idea to turn off auto login features -- even if you habitually check a business account on your phone.

Privacy settings are all too commonly ignored. Companies and personal users alike are all too quick to trust a social network's discretion when it comes to sharing information. Be scrupulous and tailor privacy to your liking. No one wants to end up like one of these guys.

Stacey Waxman is a freelance writer.

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