ok

Five tips for protecting your brand on social media

This summer, online payment service giant Paypal learned that bad guys had set up a fake Paypal Support page on Twitter, and then monitored the real Paypal Support page for remarks from customers. The bad guys responded to those inquiries and pointed users to the fake site where they would ask for, and sometimes receive, personal and account information – an attack called angler phishing.

Paypal’s Information Security Director Trent Adams likens the ongoing battle to protect its brand to a game of whack-a–mole, and with new social media threats popping up daily, it’s becoming more like “whack-an-ant-hill” because while one account may be shut down, others are probably still at work.

“We would like to get into a position of prevention – but prevention is really hard,” Adams says. “Early detection is where we are right now.”

As social media platforms become the predominate form of customer communication, so too do the threats to companies and brands. Nearly 600 new fraudulent brand accounts were created each month between April and June 2016 on social media sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, according to a study by Proofpoint. Of nearly 5,000 social media accounts connected with 10 top global brand names, nearly one in five was fraudulent.

Even though the incidents of phishing on those fake accounts is relatively small (about 4 percent), they’re still a huge target for bad actors and a danger to customers and brand reputation. “They can reach almost 33 million people across those top 10 brands,” says Devin Redmond, vice president and general manager of digital security and compliance at Proofpoint, which offers brand fraud detection and mitigation services.

It’s not just the largest brands that have been targeted. Food service and retail companies have seen bad actors create what looks like a promotional site for coupons, access to special content or previews for online games, Redmond says. Unknowing users will surrender credit card information and other personal information on the sites.

The rise in brand fraud has even prompted companies that don’t even have a social media presence to monitor popular platforms. “Companies are starting to understand that even if they’re not active on social media, they need to be monitoring it because other people could be active on their behalf,” says Shanna Gordon, client services director at BrandProtect.
Protecting your brand

Some 79 percent of information security leaders surveyed by Ponemon institute believe that their security processes for Internet and social media monitoring are nonexistent, partially deployed or inconsistently deployed. Brand fraud experts offer five tips for protecting your company’s name and reputation.

1. Create your own social media presence before someone else does

Companies should have an official presence on major social media sites, even if they don’t use them often, says John LaCour, CEO of PhishLabs. “If customers go looking for [your page] and can’t find one, they may find the bad guys instead,” he says. Many social media sites offer icons or flags that identify legitimate sites, he adds. Companies should also communicate with customers that their official sites will only be used for announcing new products and services, for example, so customers will look more suspiciously at alleged brand sites that offer free perks or customer service action.

2. Establish governance

Companies need to have a governance program in place and staff responsible for social media accounts and communication as part of the company’s main infrastructure, Redmond says.

Business units often create their own legitimate domains, but the security team might not know about them. “They don’t do it through the right channels,” Gordon says. “That needs to be monitored with processes in place.”

3. Conduct a social media brand inventory

A simple search of a company’s name on popular social media sites can begin to uncover any nefarious social media accounts or at least reveal how the company is being represented, fraud experts say. During a recent audit of its social media presence, a major consulting firm was shocked to discover that hundreds of accounts were impersonating its brand or were using its name in some unwanted way on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram, Gordon says.

Some accounts might be legitimate while others may reference a company’s name simply to draw traffic to their site. But a few could be truly criminal and are attempting to use fake accounts for phishing scams or to sell knock-off merchandise, she adds.

4. Identify fraudulent accounts and act quickly

At Paypal, security teams focus on identifying fraudulent sites and then reacting quickly, usually with the help of its worldwide customer base.

“The fastest way we identify [fraud] is being notified by our customer base,” including merchants and consumers, Adams says. “We are often notified much more quickly by customers than we are by the industry organizations that identify potential fraud and kick out threat alerts.”

Paypal’s investigative team reviews the fraud tips as they are received and identifies whether they are malicious or benign. Next they reach out to social media platform operators and their security departments to alert them.

5. Know where and how to report brand fraud

When customers suspect a fake company account on social media, they need to know who to report the fraud to, Redmond says. Develop a response plan that includes the documentation that should be collected and who should be contacted at the company and the social media site.

“Companies need to report brand fraud in a way that responders can consume it quickly because minutes count in these situations,” Adams says. To that end, Paypal is testing a specialized fraud reporting queue it has set up with a half dozen social media sites.

Fraud tipsters provide documentation about the suspected fraud in a standard format, and it is submitted by Paypal to the social media platforms. “We’ve been able to see a significant decrease in the amount of time it takes from the time we identify the problem to the time we report it, to the time action is taken,” Adams says. In one recent month, the expedited channel was 75 percent faster than reporting through the standard channel, he adds.

Adams says the reporting queue project is in the in the early prototype phase, and once it is proven successful Paypal plans to share the process or technical specifications with the world as open source.

Preventing social media brand fraud will remain a challenge because of the generative nature of social media platforms and the proliferation of new and more creative scams, Adams says. While these measures won’t stop this kind of abuse completely, he says, “it will raise the barrier.”

Source: CSO, article by Stacy Collett (http://www.csoonline.com/article/3126077/social-networking/five-tips-for-protecting-your-brand-on-social-media.html)

Read More

linkedin-logo

5 Overlooked Features of Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn has proven to be a winning platform for many B2B companies. But while the professional networking site holds major potential for amplifying thought leadership, boosting brand awareness, and generating leads, success on the site isn’t a given.

Maximizing your LinkedIn presence requires mastering the ins and outs of the platform and its many offerings as a piece of marketing technology. Here are five of the most overlooked features of your LinkedIn marketing strategy—plus a few tricks to jump-start your efforts.

1. Engage Your Employees

Your company’s LinkedIn page is a great starting point for your marketing efforts, but a company page alone won’t guarantee an audience. Encouraging employees to share and amplify your company page content will help spread your message far and wide, hitting the types of people who might be interested in your company to begin with.

A proper LinkedIn employee engagement program starts with getting employees excited about the platform and everything it can do for them personally and professionally (not to mention what it can do for the company). Explain why participation can improve the visibility of the company, thus increasing exposure to potential customers and leads. Companies in service-oriented industries have an added incentive to used LinkedIn; the talent behind the company is as important as the product or service offered. Empower staff to build stellar profiles (complete with links to the company page and a logo), and encourage them to share company content—blog posts, videos, images—to increase the reach of your message. Content marketing on LinkedIn grows exponentially stronger when engaged employees share content with their connections.

2. Test Your Content

Sharing posts from your company page and encouraging employees to do the same will bring content to users within those networks. But if you want your content to hit users outside your networks, LinkedIn can make it happen (albeit for a fee). Direct Sponsored Content allows brands to test multiple variations of their content, while maintaining control over what is posted to their company page.

LinkedIn’s marketing technology allows companies to test the headline, intro, teaser text, and thumbnail image of a post to see what garners more clicks from users. By finding out which variable resonates the most, marketers can optimize content so that the people they want to reach—industry leaders and potential customers—are more likely to click.

LinkedIn offers metrics for organic posts, too. Companies can see which posts are performing better, allowing them to tweak their content strategies to woo more followers. Top-performing organic posts are good candidates to receive a sponsored boost, allowing the content to go even further.

3. Utilize LinkedIn Pulse

Motivating your employees to use LinkedIn is a key piece to LinkedIn marketing success. Take these efforts to the next level and recruit your in-house company experts to author their own posts and share them to expand your thought leadership marketing. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder and innovator, adorns his LinkedIn page with posts about entrepreneurship, business success, and work–life balance. The posts offer easily accessible business insight—while also consistently referring and linking back to Virgin, helping the brand boost its industry cred.

Any LinkedIn user can publish to LinkedIn Pulse, which functions as its own self-publishing platform within the LinkedIn site. Simply click “Write an article,” add a photo and write a headline, and you’re on your way to accessing the millions of LinkedIn users who browse the site for insight or advice. Pulse editors help curate the content users see on their Pulse feeds, but trending content and content that users in your network have Liked also gets highlighted. Once again, the more employees on board and sharing content, the further your content will spread.

4. Vary Your Content Mix

LinkedIn is building a niche as a go-to platform for long-form content. LinkedIn readers have a high tolerance for in-depth pieces—as long as the content is interesting.

Despite the conventional wisdom that shorter is better, on LinkedIn, longer posts seem to perform better than their shorter counterparts. Posts between 1,900 and 2,000 words gain the greatest number of LinkedIn likes, comments, and shares, a study from OKDork found.

The key here is variety. Offer followers meatier pieces with an in-depth analysis of an industry conundrum. But it’s okay to share shorter content, too. A great infographic may do the same work of a 2,000-word thought piece.

5. Publish Solutions to Your Audience’s Challenges

“If you build it, they will come” is the wrong mantra to have when it comes to LinkedIn marketing. Before posting content willy-nilly to your company page, think about the audience you want to reach and the pain points they are experiencing within their industry. This is where you, the industry expert, can add value. Need ideas about what’s bugging people in your industry? Scour LinkedIn’s Groups Directory to find out what challenges people in your industry are facing, and create content that speaks to those challenges.

Marketers can use LinkedIn’s built-in analytics to get a better feel for who is viewing and engaging with your content. The content created should help this audience solve a problem, learn something new, or empower them with advice. Avoid clickbait like the plague, because users will see right through it. Only relevant, compelling content will resonate with LinkedIn’s professional audience, lending you legitimacy as an expert in your industry.

Source: Skyword, article by Krystal Overmyer (http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/marketing/5-overlooked-features-of-your-linkedin-marketing-strategy/)

Read More

instagram stories

Instagram Stories Sends A Clear Message To Digital Marketers

Instagram took aim at Snapchat with the launch of its Stories platform, which allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The news should light a fire under brands that have yet to embrace ‘ephemeral marketing’.

As Instagram has evolved into the place to post highly stylized, curated photos of “perfect moments”, Snapchat took off with young people who just want to share the little details of their everyday lives — things they buy, what they’re wearing, stuff they’re eating, and who they’re hanging out with. Now, with Stories, Instagram hopes to “lower the bar for sharing all types of photos and video — and not just the carefully planned and painstakingly touched-up photographs that are typical of the service,” said Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram.

For marketers, Instagram’s launch of Stories underscores the importance of creating a new type of less-stylized brand content for these 24-hour social platforms. Snapchat, and now Instagram Stories, get closest to the holy-grail of marketing: the ability for brands to share authentic photos and videos that don’t “feel like ads” but still build strong brand lifestyle. When brands post content on Snapchat, it’s opt-in and interactive. Users choose whether they want to see the content, and can doodle on it, share it, or insert it into their own stories.

But these ephemeral social platforms also pose a huge challenge to marketers: creating enough of the right type of content. Whereas brands are accustomed to scheduling regular posts on Facebook FB, Instagram, and Pinterest – often using social media marketing platforms to create and manage content flows – Snapchat is more reactive, immediate, and constant. The highly-curated and staged posts brands are used to creating (or, more often, having their agencies create) for Facebook have no place on 24-hour platforms. Instead, Snapchat users want to interact with light, lower-bar content that paints the brands they love in a familiar tone. “Blooper” videos, behind-the-scenes photos, or user snapshots taken at live events are popular types of brand content on Snapchat. Simply put, the rise of Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories proves that digital storytelling is evolving .

So what can brands do to get ahead of the curve on the newest social marketing platforms? The first order of business is to bring more of their creative services in house, because timeliness will become a lot more important. Instead of scheduling two or three posts a week, with Snapchat and Instagram Stories, brands will have to post content at least once a day. Instagram Stories are also a good opportunity to leverage brand influencers. A popular tactic on Snapchat stories is to collaborate with an influencer to do a Snapchat takeover. Brands can do the same on Instagram. Influencers visiting the brand HQ can give viewers a behind the scenes look from their perspective for the day. The outcome is mutually beneficial: an influencer’s trusted content validates a company’s brand, while generating publicity and recognition for the influencer. Brands will have to mimic the type of fun, unstaged, interactive photos and videos that young millennials themselves post on these platforms.

Second, with Instagram Stories brands will have to start treating candid, less-staged photos as real marketing material. Brands can still operate within style guidelines, but will have to accept a broader range of content within those guidelines. On 24-hour social platforms, brands must move from airbrushed to authentic, skipping the polished and glossy images to instead include more raw and spontaneous posts. A great way for brands to increase these type of posts is to include user-generated content in their marketing arsenals. Consumers who post photos and videos of brand products are valuable influencers; marketers can re-share some of these posts on Snapchat and Instagram Stories to create an authentic, grassroots feel to their marketing content.

The rise of Snapchat, and now Instagram Stories, is a prime example of a shift that was already underway in marketing: Today’s audiences crave authenticity from brands. Young people in particular largely ignore traditional ads, instead expecting their favorite brands to engage with them in fun, personal, entertaining ways. The launch of Instagram Stores proves the time has come for marketers to loosen the controls on what’s acceptable brand content. Whether Instagram Stories can catch up to Snapchat remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: authentic, visual brand storytelling is the future of marketing.

Source: Forbes. Article by Kyle Wong(http://www.forbes.com/sites/kylewong/2016/08/03/instagram-stories-sends-a-clear-message-to-digital-marketers/#4361b3ac7eba)

Read More

Multi-brand-online-retail

Brands Born Online, Reshaping the Retail Landscape

The world might be a mess, but look on the bright side: Men’s shaving products are much better than they used to be.

Thanks to several online shaving start-ups, razors, creams, gels and other paraphernalia are now cheaper, of higher quality and are more convenient to purchase than ever before. Last week one of the upstarts, Dollar Shave Club, was acquired by the consumer products giant Unilever for $1 billion. For shaving behemoths like Gillette, it is the first skirmish in the coming guerrilla war for men’s faces, not to mention other parts.

This column usually focuses on the technology industry, an area that sounds far removed from shaving. But the Dollar Shave acquisition signals something bigger than a mere improvement in shaving — it also underscores a consumer products revolution that would not have been possible without technology.

Hilarious online ads passed along social networks allowed Dollar Shave to create instant customer recognition — in other words, a brand — far more quickly, and for far less money, than a shaving company could have managed a decade ago. Online distribution allowed it to get products into consumers’ hands without a costly retail presence. In fact, by cutting out on retail, and shipping products to people’s homes on a subscription basis, the company made buying shaving products more convenient than going to a store.

The same forces that drove Dollar Shave’s rise are altering a wide variety of consumer product categories. Together, they add up to something huge — a new slate of companies that are exploring novel ways of making and marketing some of the most lucrative products we buy today. These firms have become so common that they have acquired a jargony label: the digitally native vertical brand.

These kinds of online brands aren’t new. Dollar Shave is five years old, and Warby Parker, the online eyewear company, began selling glasses over the web in 2010. But over the last few years there’s been a proliferation of such companies — into underwear, children’s clothing, cosmetics and more — and the Dollar Shave deal suggests their growing importance. These firms could become an emerging problem for consumer products conglomerates like Procter & Gamble, and they might also spell trouble for television, which relies heavily on brand advertising for its revenue.

For you and me, this is a boon. By cutting out the inefficiencies of retail space and the marketing expense of TV, the new companies can offer better products at lower prices. We will get a wider range of products — if companies don’t have to market a single brand to everyone on TV, they can create a variety of items aimed at blocs of consumers who were previously left behind. And because these companies were born online, where reputations live and die on word of mouth, they are likely to offer friendlier, more responsive customer service than their faceless offline counterparts.

“We think it’s a unique moment in history where you can create brands that can be scaled quickly thanks to technology, but you can still maintain a one-to-one connection that delivers an elevated level of customer experience,” said Philip Krim, chief executive of Casper, which sells mattresses online.

 

Mr. Krim and four friends started Casper two years ago after studying the traditional mattress industry. They discovered it was plagued by inefficiencies and annoying gimmicks. Customers had to trudge to a mattress store and awkwardly prostrate themselves on numerous surfaces before choosing one to use for a decade. There were too many choices and brands, and mattresses were expensive.

With Casper, you simply buy the mattress online and it’s shipped to you in a comically small box (the compressed foam expands into a full-sized mattress, like a magic trick). You have three months to try it out, and if you don’t like it, the company will come pick it up free.

Casper’s business model offers a break from the annoyance of offline mattress shopping. It also works out for the company. Casper advertises on social networks, on Google, podcasts and a variety of other places online; the ads are creative, convincing, targeted and cheap. By selling directly rather than through retail middlemen, the company also creates a connection with customers that allows it to test and develop new products — it now sells sheets and pillows, too.

After two years in business, Casper is on track to book $200 million in sales over the next year, but its success isn’t ensured. Precisely because the internet has lowered barriers to entry, Casper is facing a surge of new mattress start-ups like Helix Sleep, Tuft & Needle and Leesa, among others.

Of course, competition could be great for consumers if it continues pushing down prices for all mattresses, and if these companies invest in better products and customer service. But competition could result in evaporating profits, too. Remarking on the Dollar Shave deal, Ben Thompson, an analyst who writes a tech-business newsletter called Stratechery, predicted widespread “value destruction” across many consumer product categories. He also warned of doom for TV, which “is not only threatened by services like Netflix, but also the disruption of its advertisers,” he wrote.

Value destruction could be on the table. But there’s another view that new online brands could unlock profits through products aimed at people who are not well served by incumbents.

Consider Walker & Company, a start-up founded by Tristan Walker, an African-American entrepreneur who argues that traditional shaving, hair care and cosmetics companies have neglected the potentially multibillion-dollar global market of nonwhite customers. Mr. Walker’s first brand, Bevel, creates men’s shaving products that promise to reduce razor bumps, which disproportionately affect black men. He plans to create several more brands, including products for women.

Unlike Dollar Shave, Mr. Walker does not aim to compete with traditional consumer product companies on price alone. “We want to build a very profitable business,” he said. He will do so, he said, by fostering a deep, lifelong connection with an audience that is getting wealthier and more influential — and whose influence, thanks to social networks, can now be tapped.

“Global culture is led by American culture, which is led by black culture in the U.S. — look at music, dance, et cetera,” he said. “So if we’re catering to an audience that are the most culturally influential demographic group in the world, we can use the internet to promulgate our message across the board, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — and that gives us amazing leverage.”

Walker & Company declined to provide sales numbers; a spokesman said revenue had grown 300 percent over the last year.

I spoke to several other online start-ups that echoed the idea of serving untapped new markets. One was Primary, a year-old clothing company founded by Christina Carbonell and Galyn Bernard, former executives at Amazon. Primary makes so-called essentials for children — logo-free pants, shirts and other clothes that don’t shift according to fashion trends. Basically, it offers a way for parents to find specific clothes they like, then to buy the items in several colors and sizes as their children outgrow them.

“We’re offering a solution to busy parents that’s just not out there in the marketplace,” Ms. Carbonell said. “It’s not about some new style every day, it’s something you can count on.”

It’s striking how few of these online companies could have taken off in the presocial age. At the very least, they would have been sunk by the inability to target ads to the demographics they’re aiming to serve.

“Look at Dollar Shave,” Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of ads and business platform, told me. “They were just trying to reach men. If they’d started advertising on TV, they definitely would have wasted half their money.”

Source: The New York Times. Article by Farhad Manjoo (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/technology/these-stores-didnt-develop-websites-they-started-there.html?_r=0)

Read More