OWN AN ONLINE STORE? DON’T GET BRANDJACKED!

How would you feel if someone posed as you through fake social media profiles and sent inappropriate, or hurtful messages to your friends and family? Needless to say, the experience will be distressing; and might take you months to clear up the mess thus created.

Now imagine if something like that happened to your business. Posing as your brand, the perpetrators can communicate with your customers and social media followers, maligning your reputation and leading the way for a PR crisis. The impact would be of a much larger magnitude, almost catastrophic for your brand. After all, gaining customer trust and loyalty is the result of years of arduous work, you cannot possibly let anyone ruin it for you in an instant!

Back in 2014, Heinz, the global food giant, was brandjacked on Twitter when someone started posting tweets in the brand’s name. In another case, Burger King’s Twitter handle got brandjacked too in 2013. When brands so big are prone to such attacks, small and medium business owners have a lot to worry about!

What is brandjacking?

Simply put, the term is a portmanteau of the words ‘brand’ and ‘hijacking’ and was coined by the famous brand protection firm, Mark Monitor. Brandjacking is the act of acquiring or assuming the online identity of a company, brand, or person. It typically assumes one of the following forms:

  • Bogus social media accounts that either troll or worse, defame a brand.
  • Phishing attempts that aim to secure personal or financial information; especially critical in case of online sellers / eCommerce stores.
  • Bogus domains that resemble brand name or products. Given the rise of new top-level domains, taking hold of domains that are important to the business is more crucial than ever.

So, if you’ve just started your online store or have had it for a while, and you haven’t taken preventive measure against brandjacking, now would be a good time to begin. Here’s a quick lowdown on how you can prevent and even tackle brandjacking of your online store:

  • DOMAIN NAMES

Purchase domains that bear your name, resemble your name or have your product names in it. Ensure that you consider the new top-level domains that are relevant to you. If you are an online store, consider purchasing www.yourbrand.store.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA

Make sure you have your branded social media handles across platforms, even if you don’t plan to use them immediately. This will prove useful in the long run. Also, once you have made your social media accounts, remember to monitor them for any brand mentions. In the case of a possible attack, this will help you get notified immediately, thus enabling a quick corrective measure.

  • TRADEMARK

File trademarks in your country (if it’s a local business) or else go for international trademarks to protect your brand globally. This will give you legal rights in reclaiming your brand in the event of brandjacking. Do keep in mind that it’s common for competitors to use your brand name in their online ads, so watch out for such instance too.

  • SSL CERTIFICATE

SSL means ‘secure sockets layer’ which essentially makes a website more secure for handling sensitive information and personal details of customers. All sites that require customers to share their credit card details must have SSL certificate to ensure privacy and security of information. Invest in an SSL certificate to add a layer of protection to your data.

  • TROLLS

Keep a check on trolls and in case someone is being offensive or displaying inappropriate behavior towards your brand on a social platform, report them. Trolldor is one of the many online tools that will help you with this. If someone provokes, threatens and stalks you; or assumes your identity falsely, you can report it and get the social media platform to take necessary action.

  • CRISIS MANAGEMENT

While you may take all the preventive measures, you are never 100% protected against virtual attacks. In the event of an unfortunate threat to your brand, have a crisis management plan ready. From using a humorous response to seeking legal help, be prepared to take an appropriate action basis the severity of the issue.

Brandjacking can become a huge crisis if your brand’s public voice is no longer controlled by you, but by detractors. The eventualities can dangerously affect your brand’s credibility and reputation. While bigger brands will always be on the radar of problem-makers, smaller brands should not remain vulnerable. Take necessary preventive steps and protect your brand from getting hijacked!

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