The year isn’t even half over, but already it’s safe to say 2013 will likely be remembered as a bad one for corporate social media. It started with the HMV debacle in January, in which a fired employee took over the company’s Twitter account and tweeted things like this: “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!” And, of course, the Burger King hack in February—its Twitter page got a McDonald’s-inspired facelift. But first place goes to the Associated Press hack in April; a fake tweet sent from the newswire’s account claimed explosions had struck the Whitehouse and the president was injured. U.S. stock markets plunged immediately, rebounding minutes later after AP put out a correction.
It’s no wonder, then, that Vancouver-based HootSuite, famous for its social media dashboard, published a new set of services today aimed at mitigating these types of disasters. This year, “there have obviously been a lot of high-profile hacks,” explains Gregory Gunn, HootSuite’s VP of business development. This sort of thing can scare off large corporations, he says, which tend to be more risk-averse than smaller businesses. “We definitely heard feedback from our clients that this was something they were interested in.”
Gunn says the sort of people HootSuite deals with now has changed considerably over the past few years. Social media has shifted to the forefront of business discussions, meaning now it’s senior executives, as opposed to techies, making requests. Their concerns are different, he explains, “and they’re looking at what’s my exposure.”
This is especially true when you get into industries like banking, finance and insurance. They’re latecomers to the game, a more untapped market, but for them security is crucial. After all, if they can’t protect their own social media accounts, what does that say about their ability to safeguard your money?
HootSuite’s new security services are targeted at its enterprise clients—the ones who pay thousands of dollars every month for the company’s services. They include a security audit, crisis training and Twitter alerts for when someone logs into a corporate account that HootSuite doesn’t recognize.
But don’t consider this a dark omen, Gunn says. “It’s a good step in the evolution of social media,” he explains. Security is a growth stage, a symptom of something positive, at least for a company like HootSuite. “It substantiates social as a channel that is relevant.”