Social Media Security Awareness for Your Employees: Things You Should Know

Social Media Security Awareness for Your Employees: Things You Should Know

Social media is trending upward with no signs of slowing down. This presents a great growth opportunity for businesses large and small. At the same time, risks are also rising that require extensive social media security awareness.

In 2021 alone, for example, the data of 533 million Facebook users was leaked. Details, including full names, phone numbers, and email addresses, were all published online.

In 2022, on the other hand, data breaches, leakage, and exposure affected over 422 million people. Data compromises can result in potentially devastating consequences for businesses.

If your employees use social media networks at work, this might put your company and customers at risk. In this guide, we’ll explain how to spread social media security awareness to your employees.

The role of employees in mitigating security risks

A 2022 report found that the average time spent on social media is 151 minutes per user worldwide. That’s over two and a half hours of social media engagement opportunities.

Chart showing the average global user spends 151 minutes per day on social media networks.
Image sourced from

Sounds great, so what’s the catch? You and your employees also spend more time on social media, which means more opportunities for mistakes.

The bottom line? Training your team on cybersecurity is no longer an option: it’s an absolute necessity.

Consequences of Social Media Security Failures to Businesses

Let’s look at some of the most significant consequences of social media security failures.

Reputation damage

Data breaches and leaks hurt your business’s reputation through several means. Customers will likely spread the news on Facebook group posts and other methods. What ensues is bad PR and the diminishing of your brand reputation.

Financial losses

When posting to social media, you may also be liable to data privacy laws such as:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)- which applies to all personal data within the EU and EEA
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)- the protection of healthcare data
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)- gives California consumers more control over their data.
    To learn more, visit this blog on What is CCPA compliance?

Each of these regulations has different compliance requirements and penalties. Of those companies with breaches, recent data shows that over two-thirds incur fines.

Loss of customer trust

When customers create an account or subscribe to your services, they show trust. Any exposure of their personal information quickly erodes trust and goodwill. Damage to your reputation from negative media coverage only furthers the impact.

Even unaffected customers may feel the hit and take their business elsewhere. This can be particularly damaging if you’re starting a business as you won’t have a proven track record to rely on and it may deter any future customers.

Intellectual property theft

Of course, data leaks don’t only affect your customers and how they perceive your brand. Data breaches also put your business at risk. Hackers can lift any IP created, steal the data, and use it as their own.

This includes any code you may own or innovation for product development. In some extreme cases, you may even lose trade secrets and competitive advantage.

Operational disruption

Hackers aren’t always after personal data. They may have other nefarious objectives. Taking out IT infrastructures results in an immediate halt in operations. When business-critical systems are offline, your customers are waylaid with downtime.

Attacks may put you in violation of service level agreements (SLAs) for uptime. In turn, productivity takes a massive hit, and your customer service fails.

9 Ways to Ensure Social Media Security Awareness for Your Employees

Chart showing that there are 4.95 billion social media users worldwide
Image source

Of the 5.3 billion global internet users today, 4.95 billion are social media users. Your team is likely on social media for work just as much as for personal usage.

Follow these guidelines to reduce social media security risks.

⮚ Establish clear social media policies

Spreading social media security awareness begins with clear policies and protocols. Your IT and social media marketing teams need to collaborate on best practices.

When drafting a social media security document, outline the following:

  • Account management: how to create and manage official brand accounts.
  • Password policies: how to generate, put in place, and manage your passwords.
  • Branding and tone of voice: how to use imagery and communicate as a brand on social media.
  • Content best practices: what topics and content to discuss and what to avoid.
  • Risk management: outline the usage of social media management tools.
  • Re-evaluation: how often will the social media security document be revisited and updated?

⮚ Conduct regular security training sessions

Your IT team is your cybersecurity experts. They are up-to-date on the most current social media security risks. Have your experts craft security training resources.

Use tools like shared calendars and employee scheduling software to coordinate meetings for each department. This way, you can make sure as many people as possible can attend. You can also use webinars, presentations, and videos for those who missed out.

Regardless of the job title, having a social media security refresher is always a good idea. So, make sure you also have updated sessions and publish new materials throughout the year.

⮚ Promote strong passwords and two-factor authentication

Passwords have been getting hacked since the early days of the internet. Many times, hackers can guess passwords and access accounts.

Password best practices include:

  • Maintain a 12-character minimum.
  • Source a list of common passwords and ban them.
  • No single words as passwords.
  • Do not use personal information when creating passwords.
  • Employees should not reuse passwords, even similar ones, for different accounts.
  • Create a completely new and different password when prompted by platforms.
  • You can use a password strength checker to know how secure your password is.

Team members should follow your established practices for using your password manager. During password creation, it can be useful to use the “show password” button to avoid confusion.

⮚ Monitor and manage third-party applications

A good way to stay on top of social media security is to check your accounts regularly. Outline guidelines for content and the approval process of every post. Give only one person post-approval at a time. This way, they can check every post.

Flag and block content that is inappropriate or does not follow brand guidelines. This prevents hackers from doing significant damage by posing as your brand online.

AI detectors also help spot hacked accounts, while AI can automate the approval workflow process for your team.

⮚ Encourage responsible information-sharing practices

Social selling requires tact and compliance. Outline the safe handling of customer data and protection protocols so employees understand when and what they can share.

You can better manage responsible information-sharing with the following practices:

  • Centralize account management with social media tools, reducing the chance of human error.
  • Install access controls and assign specific roles and permissions to relevant users.
  • Use content moderation tools to make sure sensitive information isn’t accidentally shared.
  • Always emphasize compliance requirements to prevent violations.

⮚ Develop a clear incident response plan

You plan to avoid the worst, but make sure you're prepared for when it happens. Work with your team to develop a clear incident response plan.

Sections to outline in a response plan include:

  1. Steps required to suspend or freeze the account in question.
  2. How to fast-track communications with the social media network customer service team.
  3. What information do you need to regain access to the account?
  4. Apology and explanation posts on all your social media accounts.
  5. Process to identify the cause of the breach.
  6. Considerations of how this impacts your current social media security guidelines.

You want a plan in place that jumpstarts the resolution process. Always communicate with your audience what is happening. As soon as you fix the issue, engage and reassure your customers.

Social media security training and onboarding is only the beginning. As social media tools and networks expand and evolve, so do the attached risks. Have your IT team publish a regular newsletter to update employees on cybersecurity trends.

On top of this, use the HR onboarding software to make sure new hires are up-to-date, too. This will make sure everyone receives the resources they need from the beginning. It will also enable you to track their progress to see if any critical information is missing.

Finally, you also can dedicate a section of your company blog to social media security. This gives team members a living reference guide for avoiding various security issues, such as account hacking, identity fraud, social engineering/phishing, and malware.

⮚ Ensure the use of company-approved tools for communication

There is a perpetual flow of new tools, plugins, and apps for communication. Things such as login credentials are often handed out over these channels. If someone else can gain access to one of those channels, they can log into your accounts and wreak havoc.

Have your managers and IT team put out a list of company-approved tools. These will be those with enterprise-grade encryption that mitigates risk. Personal accounts are not appropriate for work communications.

⮚ Utilize social media monitoring tools with transparency

Social listening tools are great for improving social engagement. They help you identify trends and how to reach your audience. They are also helpful in preventing and managing social media account breaches.

If you detect unusual activity, you will know straight away. These third-party apps make it easy to track all your social media accounts from one place.

Key takeaway

The growth of social media has its pros and cons for businesses. Reducing human error through training and tools puts the odds in your favor. Creating social media usage policies and using solid passwords all help mitigate risks.

Promoting social media security helps you and your customers sleep better at night. Just follow the easy tips from this guide, and you’ll disappoint hackers daily!