The week in big brand social media marketing started off with a lot of buzz. On Monday, the verified Twitter account for Burger King was taken over and rebranded for McDonalds. It took a few hours for Twitter to suspend the account and restore control to the flame-broiled burger chain. Despite what was certain to be a community manager’s nightmare, the account picked up lots of new followers. Yesterday saw a similar takeover of the official @Jeep account, rebranding it for Cadillac. The takeover didn’t last nearly as long as the Burger King incident.
Then later in the afternoon @MTV and @BET were seemingly hacked and switched identities. But according to Forbes, the last incident was a promotional stunt.
In an exclusive interview with Forbes, an inside source at MTV has confirmed that MTV’s Twitter account was never “hacked.” MTV has since tweeted “We totally Catfish-ed you guys. Thanks for playing! <3 you, @BET. ;)” The short-lived “takeover “on Twitter (supposedly by BET) was actually a stunt likely to promote the show “What the Hack”, a show previously aired on MTV India that the network is soon bringing stateside. BET and MTV are both owned by Viacom.
For entertainment brands like MTV and BET, the prank would play very well with their audiences, but the hacking issues associated with Twitter recently are the stuff of PR nightmares for brand managers. These recent events should shed light on the need for brands to put in place a proper password maintenance policy for their social media and other online accounts. Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Keep in mind that everyone knows your Twitter username, it is the same as your @namehere. All that’s needed is the password to gain access to your account to either spam your follower’s Direct Message (DM) box with questionable links or take over your account.
Here are some basic best practices to keep in mind when it comes to passwords.
- Use of both upper- and lower-case letters (case sensitivity)
- Include one or more numerical digits
- Include special characters, e.g. @, #, $ etc.
- Don’t use words found in a dictionary or the user’s personal information
- Don’t use passwords that match the format of calendar dates, license plate numbers, telephone numbers, or other common numbers
- The more random the characters the better
- Change the passwords often. With social media accounts like Twitter I’d recommend every 60 – 90 days.