Social Networking Security Tips

Social media has been the phenomenon in recent times with many people having accounts in various different platforms and services. It is from these services that people use to connect with friends and other people on the internet in various different places all over the world. The social networking sites have helped people to share among themselves personal messages, photos and videos. A few examples of the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and many others.

The sad news is that the rise in popularity of such social networking sites has brought about a rise in the risks which are associated with them. Criminals have infiltrated the networks and they are perpetrating all manner of bad things on followers on the different sites. Hackers, spammers, virus writers, thieves name them all have swarmed on these sites preying on the followers. A lot of caution is advised for people visiting the social networking sites so that they do not fall for the many tricks employed by these criminals. The ease of which people get to join such networks also applies to the ease which the criminals get to take charge of people’s accounts or they get their personal information. Here are some tips and bits which could help an individual keep away from the criminals and their devious ways.

· First and foremost, it is important that an individual is well aware of the information that they post on these social networking sites. It is important to personalize information by changing the set out information material which is going to make it easy for hackers to break into their accounts and with access to information later get into their financial accounts and other important accounts. It is good to formulate your own password questions to secure your accounts. Also make sure that a strong password is used to access the account. Never give out the password and remember to change it regularly.

· The next point therefore becomes that we should never provide sensitive information like the financial account details, the cell phone number, an address, credit card numbers, and even a social security number which when they fall into the hands of the cyber criminals will be used against you.

· Desist from allowing the social networking sites and all other applications on them from scanning your email address in search of friends on the same network. This helps in not giving away the email addresses of friends and even other people to whom you have sent email addresses.

· Avoid or be extremely cautious when clicking on links that may be found or are received from friends on the social network. These links are potential threats to your account, other personal information and even to your PC. They should be treated with a lot of suspicion.

· Not all messages from friends are to be trusted and it is important that if you suspect a message that you really seek authentication from the friend via other means. Hackers could have hijacked the account and are using it to perpetrate or entice people into the same trap that may have befallen the specific friend.

· It is important to select who you accept as a friend on these social networks. Be aware that identity thieves will often create fake profiles so that they are in a position to solicit information from you.

· It is also good that the choice of the social network made be based on the provision of security measures on the social network. Before joining be eager to know if the social network monitors what people are sending. Understand the privacy policy since this is a site on which you will be providing personal information.

· It will be important that you protect your personal computer to avoid spam and the infiltration by viruses and spyware. This calls for the use of antivirus software and the use of firewalls to prevent unauthorized entry into your computer. Always keep updated copies of all these software to be on the safe side.

· It is prudent for an individual to enter the web address of the website on the browser to avoid getting scammed or directed to different websites where personal and login details are captured by the criminals.

· Teach the children on proper usage of the social networking sites and particularly let them know that giving out personal information is not proper.

· The third party applications allowed on the social networking sites are never that good even though they allow for improved functionality on the social networking page. There exists a risk with the use of these applications which will often be used to steal personal information.

It should be remembered that the social media sites are like billboards which we all see on the roadside but in this case they are billboards on the internet. What this implies is that about anyone gets to see the kind of activities that an individual is engaged in. Therefore, do not disclose personal information and that regarding close family members. This should be impressed on children and if possible restrict access and learn more about the website to assure security when social networking. Security begins with the application of common sense before going further to the use to more comprehensive measures.

Guardian Network Solutions or GNS is an IT solutions value-added reseller that specializes in providing social networking security tips for businesses, government, and education organizations as well as home users. GNS Solutions Professionals work with manufacturers and businesses of various sizes to find secure, cost-effective solutions, and currently provide the fastest and easiest transactions for users of all sizes.

3 Success Secrets on How to Manage Social Networks Effectively

The discussion whether or not to use Social Media Marketing has died down. By now, the business community agrees that social networking is a must for every business. But using online networks is not an easy and fast fix, like thought before. In fact, a recent study has found that people who use social networking successfully spend an average of 6.5 hours a week on it. That is a long time in order to be successful. Now the issue is to find a way to manage the networks better in order to recoup some of the time. Let me introduce you to 3 secrets on how to manage your networks effectively. You will be more successful and save more time on top of it.

The first success secret is to link your social networks effectively.

It will not be beneficial for you to link all of your networks to each other. The result will be that you have a lot of double (or even triple) content in each of your networks. You really want to have each piece of content only one time in each network. For you to achieve this goal, you have to think carefully about how to link your online networks. Consider as well in which network you are more present and in which not. Another important point to consider is the question if all your posts fit in each network? You might have a more personable approach in Facebook and Twitter, but a more businesslike approach in LinkedIn. I link my Facebook Fanpage to Twitter, Twitter to LinkedIn and my Blog to my Facebook Fanpage. It works well for me because I am mostly in my Facebook Fanpage. This way, I do not have any double posts, but everything I put into my Facebook Fanpage will be distributed to all my social networks. But just like I said before, consider your particular strategy first before you link your social networks. After you have linked your social networks effectively, you should use a social networking management tool.

The second success secret is to use a social networking management tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.

The main reason why you need a social networking management tool is to save time. You do not have to sign in and out of each network every time you want to check your messages or you want to post something. Instead, you just sign in to you management tool and you can do everything right from that platform. That alone is a huge time saver. In Hootsuite, for example, you can put your Twitter account, your Facebook profile and your Facebook Fanpage in different tabs. You simply switch from tab to tab to see what is going on in your network. You can also post status updates in all your social networks you have registered with Hootsuite. But be careful with that – you do not want to have double content in your networks. Remember how you have your networks linked together before you post. Just try it out and you will be amazed how easy managing your networks can be. Now, off to the third secret.

The third success secret is to use automation without losing authenticity.

Social networking can only be effective if you are authentic. That is a fact. Now, you could argue that automation is not authentic and goes against this very important fact. The solution is that it depends on how much and what you automate. Spending 6.5 hours a week in order to be successful in Social Media is nearly one complete workday of the week. That is a lot of time to use for effective social networking. In order to manage your time better, you don’t have another choice but to automate certain steps of your online networking. Some of the tasks in online networking lend themselves perfectly for automation, like sending DMs (direct messages) to new followers on Twitter. Additionally, you can schedule just a couple of Tweets a week to go out automatically. As long as you still go and check your Twitter account in person and answer your DMs, you are still authentic. Another area that lends itself for automation is to send out your blog post to all of your social networks. You should not automate more than 20 % of your social networking. If it is more than that, authenticity is just not there anymore.

What Every Financial Institution Should Know About Social Networking

The aim of any business is to be successful and profitable throughout the lifetime of the organization. The evolution of communication technology in recent years has helped make this possible by improving a business’s ability to network with its existing and potential customers. What once required face-to-face conversations and the physical exchange of contact information can now be done in an entirely virtual environment with just a click of a button.

Advances in communication technology, such as texting, blogging, emailing, media sharing and gaming, have created new social norms and revolutionized the way people communicate. It is no wonder, then, that the financial services industry is beginning to use various forms of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) to enhance customer service and improve current products and services. The most popular form of CMC are social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, which are used primarily to maintain or build connections among users.

Social networking sites represent a large market with tremendous growth potential that can be easily targeted by financial institutions if they know how to use these sites to their advantage. Like many organizations that have already experienced the benefits of using social networking sites to enhance their business, financial institutions are beginning to understand and embrace the power of social networking as it relates to their day-to-day business activities as well. Whether educating customers on new services, boosting customer confidence, increasing sales outreach or personally connecting with their customers to meet their banking needs – social networking is a vital communication tool that financial institutions can utilize in many of their customer business interactions.

Understanding Social Networking
Social networking is a form of collaboration and networking where individuals develop groups and associations, often forming a virtual community. While social networking is possible in a face-to-face setting, such as on a college campus, it is most often seen online in a CMC environment. The size and popularity of the “communities” created by MySpace and Facebook and other social networking websites have experienced substantial growth as more and more people invite their acquaintances, co-workers, friends and family members into these virtual communities.

The traditional roles of the sender and receiver involve delivering messages in a clear and concise way and providing feedback to achieve agreement of a particular subject. Social networking uses these same basic building blocks but accomplishes the end results in a slightly different way. The cues that help facilitate understanding in a face-to-face environment (e.g., intonation of voice, body language, facial expressions, physical distance, etc.) are often removed in a social networking environment. Though some websites offer an audio visual element, social networking is largely text-based, relying on “digital gestures” to demonstrate emotions and add emphasis to a message, such as:

• Forwarding.
• Recommending.
• Sharing.
• Tagging.

Social Networking Applications for Business
Networking has always been a key success factor in the business world. Networking involves linking together individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another. Traditional networking often takes place face-to-face at business lunches, conferences or exhibitions, where people are able to meet and establish mutually beneficial working relationships.

Online social networking offers many of the same benefits as traditional networking, while allowing bankers to more easily network with the average consumer as well as with their colleagues in the financial industry. Used appropriately, online social networking offers businesses the opportunity to develop meaningful, long-lasting customer relationships.

A study of the banking industry and the ways in which several banks’ board members networked with others showed that though these professionals are interested in using networking to secure new customers and to maintain and develop existing customer relationships, they also want to use networking to represent their banks in community, professional and trade organizations and to procure market trends and competitive information.

To achieve the goals identified in this study, board members and other bank employees must first understand what social networking is and how it can be used to position their banks above others in the industry. If properly trained, these employees can use social networking to achieve their banks’ organizational goals and place their banks in the top positions in the industry in the following five ways:

• Community building.
• Product research.
• Customer service.
• Marketing and promotion.
• Transparency.

Social networking is currently being used to bolster the reputations of the financial institutions that use it, providing information both internally and externally. This type of information sharing builds consumer confidence and helps employees understand the importance of their roles within their banks and how they should strive to achieve the highest standard of customer service.

Challenges of Social Networking in the Workplace
One of the first challenges of integrating social networking with the workplace is helping employees understand the importance of using this technological tool. The next challenge is in addressing the training needs of the organization to bring all employees up-to-speed on the etiquette, functionality and general norms of such a medium. This means determining who will be maintaining the websites, how end users will experience the websites, and how policies and procedures concerning social networking will be shared, and with whom inside of the organization. And finally, relationship management in a virtual environment poses a challenge. This last challenge should be a primary focus when implementing a social networking-friendly policy or procedure.

A great deal of the CMC that occurs in social networking happens through what has become known as Social Information Processing (SIP) theory. The theoretician who first introduced SIP, Joseph Walther, stated that the nature of relationships created online can be drastically different from those established in person, particularly when individuals act differently than they would in a non-virtual environment. While Walther acknowledged that the rate at which these relationships are formed may change over time as individuals become more familiar with the technology, he argued that relationships in a CMC environment would take up to four times longer to establish.

To counter this potential limitation, banks might seek to make use of the theory of attribution, which states that individuals link observed behaviors of others with causal explanations to help them understand what type of people they are communicating with. The time to develop relationships can be shortened using attribution theory because bankers can use their observations to make product or service recommendations based on needs that they have established.

Using Social Networking to Connect with Customers
Though social networking poses its own challenges, it can also be used to overcome other challenges that banks may face. For example, social networking allows financial institutions to boost consumer confidence, increase sales, and strengthen customer relationships, which are all areas of concern as they can give a bank a competitive edge over others in the banking industry.

When consumer confidence is low and distrust of the banking industry is high, particularly in times of economic crisis, social networking has allowed for greater transparency and has opened up a conversation with consumers. The public forum created by websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace provide the financial services industry an ability to address customers’ banking needs by:

• Acting as a medium for customers to send their questions and concerns to a bank, with immediate feedback from a banking expert.
• Replacing one-sided information dissemination like press releases or bank-sponsored advertisements.
• Reassuring the public of safety and soundness policies and procedures.
• Eliminating skepticism through informative links, text, graphics and audio or visual elements.
• Educating customers about products and services that address specific needs.

Protecting Customer Information
One of the main concerns of financial institutions is the protection of information and financial assets. As technology makes it easier to communicate with people in remote locations or to conduct financial transactions, it also enables thieves to obtain customers’ confidential, nonpublic information, putting customers at risk of identity theft and other similar schemes.

Financial institutions have addressed these potential information security breaches by creating Know Your Customer (KYC) programs and prioritizing identity verification and the reporting of suspicious activity. The same precautions and care should be exercised when using social networking websites to ensure that customer information remains protected.

Implications for Legal Compliance and Record Keeping
Once a financial institution’s directors and staff understand the implications and proper use of social networking websites, it is important that the institution’s policies and procedures be revised to reflect the addition of these new business activities. This ensures that the institution remains in compliance with industry laws and regulations, and it demonstrates to the public that the organization is fair and respectful of customers and employees and that it works to protect its customers’ information and financial assets.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently issued a publication that provides guidance to financial institutions regarding the use of social media in their business operations. FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-06 outlines the necessary recordkeeping requirements that financial institutions must abide by and provides guidelines for the supervision of non-static messages sent social networking websites.

Because social networking websites are fairly new and financial institutions are only just beginning to explore their potential uses, the twelve government agencies that control the financial services industry, in addition to other organizations like FINRA, are continuing to develop and amend regulations. For instance, the use of social networking affects advertising requirements for financial institutions, as stated in Regulations Z and DD. It also affects Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) membership, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and non-deposit retail investment and fair lending implications. It is the responsibility of each institution to be aware of current regulations and how their use of these websites affects their compliance current law. Management should also understand the risks of noncompliance and be sure that their policies and procedures are updated to reflect these changes.

Final Word
Financial institutions must consider the risks and rewards of using social networking tools in their everyday business operations, and ensure that these tools conform to policies and legislation, while meeting the needs of their customers. Because customers are the driving force for success in the financial services industry, the key to protecting them is through employee education. It is imperative that bank employees are appropriately trained before and during the use of any type of social networking tool. Understanding how this new form of communication impacts the organization in the long-term can help a financial institution plan for and attain future success, while focusing on keeping customer relationships strong and information and financial assets secure as social networking becomes a more prominent business tool.

Social Networking Trends

Social networking has been around us for quite a long time and now there is a change in the trends. Some of the people out there think that social networking is losing its charm. Global recession is what people point out as a reason that is degrading the popularity of the social networks. The real fact is that it is headed towards a different path. Obviously, social networking has not lost its charm and in fact it is headed to the next level of success. User statistics indicate that the count of active members in the popular social networks have increased a lot when compared to the past year. Unlike the common networking when people used to find and connect to friends, networking has become something more interesting and useful. Just keep on reading the article to know the main trend changes in today’s social networks.

The Mobile Social Networking

Mobile networking is a buzz today. Since the launch of the social networks in the online space, various software have been developed. The development of the software for use in the mobile phones is a giant leap towards success. You will be well aware of the fact that there are lots of instant messaging software available out there for the mobile phone users. These instant messaging software received a warm welcome in the public. Now it is the turn for it to go mobile. Most of the popular social network like Facebook, MySpace and orkut have developed networking software for mobile phones. Hence without doubt, the networking software for the mobile phones will be a great trend of this year.

Social Networking For Business

Savvy marketers started to swarm to the social network as soon as these networks tanked with huge popularity. Now a business without its own social network is considered a local small business. Hence for any international business, it has become indispensable to have their own networking website. Business social network are fast becoming a new trend in this modern world.

The Social Networking Software

With lots of social network around us offering common stuff like connecting to new friends, people are getting bored now. The social network introduced the instant messaging to keep the members engaged, which the networkers are not thrilled anymore with. Hence, to keep the members of the social networks active and engaged, various networking software are being developed now. The networking software ranges from simple multi-player online games to virtual true life chat rooms. These social networking software will be a revolutionary trend in 2009.

Internet Marketing on Social Networks

If your an internet marketer, affiliate marketer, entrepreneur or someone who wants to use internet marketing on social networks, there are a few tactics and strategies you’ll need to consider before going after your intended target market.

Taking the time to carefully construct a social marketing campaign plan can be the difference between success and dismal results. Here are 7 marketing strategies, tactics and questions I would consider before attempting to use social media and social networks for marketing online.

1. What is the Ultimate Goal you are Wanting to Achieve?

Are you wanting to use social networks to brand yourself or your company? If so, then your approach would be entirely different than someone who is simply wishing to create numerous backlinks from high authority page ranked social sites. A branding campaign would obviously require a bit more time and effort. If your simply taking the shotgun approach and trying to get backlinks in an effort to rank highly in the search engines, then you may want to create a buffer between your social network profiles and social bookmarking efforts. In other words, once you have used the social bookmarking sites and have created social network profiles that have a link pointing back to your site, promote and link those sites which already have authority in order to give your main site a little extra boost.

2. Hobby or Money Site?

If your utilizing social networks to promote your hobby/special interest site then you probably don’t need to overthink your overall social media campaign. On the other hand, if your in this to make money, then your social networking profile and efforts need to reflect this in a balanced way. Add a fair amount of info, photos, videos and content to your profiles so that you do not give off the vibe that your simply on the social site to promote yourself or your site. Take the time to search out friends with relevant interests, as opposed to getting trigger happy with friends requests. Join groups that fall within the target market you should have already identified. Lastly, although you need to add content to your profiles to mix it up a bit, remember that your trying to drive potential prospects into your sales funnel or your offer. Your overall goal of your social networking profile should be focused on this, otherwise you might as well just consider your efforts a hobby.

3. Who is your Target Audience/Market/Niche?

This may seem obvious to some, but you should consider who it is your trying to market to on social networks. Hopefully you’ve done your homework, researched your niche and determined the demographics of who is most likely to be interested in your offer or what your promoting. For example, lets say you’ve identified that males between the ages of 45-55 are more likely to be interested in your offer, website your promoting, etc. It would not make much sense to spend an enormous amount of time on a social network who’s main user audience generally tends to be 14-21 years old. It’s a lot like traffic generation. Untargeted traffic, at the end of the day, will only eat up your bandwidth and focusing your efforts on social networks that don’t match up with your target audience will only eat up your time.

4. Consider Outsourcing Your Social Networking Efforts

It can be quite tedious and time consuming to create profiles, upload content, manage friends requests, and everything else that goes along with participating and marketing on social networks. If you have the financial means to do so, you may want to consider outsourcing the tasks of signing up on social networks and maintaining the day to day activities that go with it. If your just starting out, and have more time on your hands than money in your pocket to burn, you’ll probably want to manage your social profiles yourself. On the other hand, only you can determine what your time is worth. You may just find that its worth spending X amount of dollars per month to outsource your social networking efforts so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.

5. Consider Purchasing Advertising Space

Most social networks offer advertising space and in most cases it’s relatively inexpensive. Maybe you would like to determine whether its even worth creating a presence on a certain social site. Why not run a small test campaign to see how responsive your target audience is on a given network? Most sites enable you to drill down by various demographics for your ad campaigns, use that to your advantage and test the waters out. If your ads and offers are converting, keep the ad running and then take the time to either create a presence on that social network or outsource that task.

6. Remember Why Your There in the First Place

It’s easy to get distracted in our day to day lives. Nowhere is that probably more evident than on the web, and it could be argued that social networks are the biggest time waster of them all for some people. It’s very easy to look up from your monitor and realize you just spent 30 minutes Twittering about nothing, an hour and a half watching and rating viral videos on YouTube, adding friends, blocking friends that turn out to be spammers, ignoring spammy bulletins and friends statuses on MySpace, installing apps on Facebook, stumbling on StumbleUpon, Sphinning hoping others Sphinn you back…and before you know it 3 hours have gone by and what have you accomplished? Oh and don’t forget, you haven’t even checked your email yet. After you skim through the spam that made it past your junk folder, and the emails from all the social sites, the “so-and-so” is now following you on Twitter (who happens to be following 3,000 other people while only being followed by perhaps 5 people). Are your beginning to get the picture?

Social Networks can be a great place to market your offers, brand yourself and your companies considering the sheer number of people who hangout and interact on these sites. Just remember not to loose track of time, stay focused on your original reason for being on these sites in the first place. It can be a great to make some new friends, network a little and all that. But if your main reason for using social networks is to market yourself or your services and lead people into your sales funnel, remember that and focus your time strategically.

7. Create a Presence on Smaller Niche Based Social Networks

If you came across a social network that happened to consist of a small group of avid enthusiasts pertaining to the niche market you just happened to be targeting or had an particular interest in yourself, for example, a golfing social network and you were trying to market a golfing product online as an affiliate… would you consider creating a social profile presence on that particular site? Would you consider buying advertising space on that niche based social site? What if the site was just launched and had not yet built up a member base yet, but the site looked like it had a lot of potential? There are numerous niched based social networking sites coming online these days. While there is obviously room for more than just one or two players in any given niche based social networking site category, the ones that come across as complete cookie-cutter sites, out-of the box scripts and that are never able to attain a decent sized member base will eventually fold and close up shop if the niche is a fairly competitive one. Others will grow over time, evolve and be a gathering point of people who share similar interests. Why not create a profile on these niche based sites before there are 100’s if not 1000’s of members so that your profile is the one new members see first? Some of these niched based social sites are like diamonds in the rough, just waiting to be mined, that will grow over time into a highly targeted user base just waiting to be marketed to with a relevant offer. Personally, I’d much rather market to 50 – 100 people on a smaller network whom were obviously prequalified, targeted leads as opposed to joining a social site with millions of members and have a 1000 friends to contend with whom are not the least bit interested in the niche I was targeting or the offer I was trying to present. While your creating a presence on the larger social sites like Facebook and MySpace, try to identify some of the smaller social networking sites coming online that pertain to your market/target niche and create a presence there while these sites are in their infancy. Who knows, you may just discover a few niche based social networks that turn out to be hidden goldmines for your market before your competitors do.