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80,259 News Articles

The trouble with social networks and business

Facebook and Twitter exposed

We look at how social networks put a new face on brand-damaging activities, ranging from reputation attacks to imposter sites.

Other threats can be self-inflicted. Hayzlett himself admits to prematurely posting a tweet about the impending retirement of a product.

"I accidentally hit Send instead of Save and tweeted out what we had worked six months to protect," he says.

In the time it took to delete the tweet, four people had re-tweeted it. "I had to reach out to them and beg them to [remove it]." Even then, the tweet may have shown up in Twitter searches.

Gartner analyst John Pescatore says a client that runs a campground chain had an employee who thought he'd be helpful by posting a spreadsheet on Facebook that showed which sites were available and which were booked - but it included the credit card numbers campers had given to reserve their sites.

Data-leak prevention tools won't find such data when it's posted outside a corporate firewall. With social networks, "periodically looking at content has to be part of the cost equation", Pescatore says.

Some threats come from inside. In an April survey of more than 2,000 US employees and executives by Deloitte, nearly three quarters of the employees said that it was easy to damage a company's reputation using social media, and 15 percent said they would post comments online if their company did something they didn't agree with.

That could be a big problem for WWE, since employees who know the storylines of its scripted events could spill the beans.
"If those outcomes were revealed, it would destroy the experience for the fans," Dienes-Middlen says, so all WWE employees are required to sign confidentiality agreements.

Diversionary tactics

Scammers also use social networks to lure a brand's customers to malware or phishing sites - or to e-commerce sites hawking counterfeit or gray-market products.

According to a survey by MarkMonitor, which tracks online threats for its clients, in the 12-month period ending in the second quarter of this year, phishing attacks on social networking sites increased by 164 percent.

In a CMO Council survey of 4,500 senior marketing executives, nearly 20 percent of the respondents said they had been affected by online scams and phishing schemes that had hijacked brand names.

It was the third-largest category, right behind cybersquatting or illegal use of a trademarked name, and the illegal copying of digital media content. The fourth category was online sales of fake products that contain deficient or dangerous ingredients.

Barbara Rentschler, CMO at K'nex Brands www.knex.com , sees cybersquatting, online scams and false association of its brands on other sites as the biggest threats to the toy maker's brands on the web.

She uses a monitoring service to track and shut down cybersquatters and scam sites.

Many sites that misappropriate K'nex trademarks are overseas, she says. Most aren't malicious: They're simply businesses that hope to become K'nex distributors.

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NEXT PAGE: Co-ordinated strategy

  1. Facebook and Twitter may be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to business
  2. The cost of piracy
  3. Self-inflicted threats
  4. Co-ordinated strategy

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