Don’t Let Banking Online Make You the Next Fraud Victim

Online banking is a convenient way to manage money without the hassle of bank closing times or waiting for a cheque to clear. Yet there are risks with accessing financial information over the internet that shouldn’t be ignored. Numerous cyber criminals browse the web looking for personal data that can yield a cash payoff. All it takes is a few security oversights to make your account easy to hack and to turn you into the next target.

How to Stay Clear of Hackers

At Reputation Defender we warn our clients about the dangers of personal information becoming publicly available through careless online privacy. Data leaks can cause reputational fallout and they will also help a hacker to access your bank accounts and fraudulently transfer money. Here are some of the most important precautions you should take to stay safe whilst banking online:

• Avoid Public Networks – Never access a bank account on a public computer or a free Wi-Fi network. These are inherently insecure and may be regularly monitored by cyber criminals.
• Bank on a Single Device – Keep your banking limited to a personal laptop or an iPad that isn’t used by children or other people who may be careless online.
• Use Secure Passwords – A strong password is one that combines numbers, letters and symbols, but does not include any guessable information such as birthdays, names or addresses. It’s a good idea to change your password several times a year. If you have trouble remembering complicated passwords, invest in a password manager.
• Avoid Phishing Attacks – One common online scam is a fake notice advising that an account is insecure or the password has been reset by someone else. If you receive an unsolicited notice like this, never click on the link contained in the email. It likely contains a virus that will allow the scammer to steal your banking details. Instead, sign in via another secure app or call the bank to check your account status. Do not give out financial details in an email or over the phone. If someone is asking for this information they are not from your bank; they are a fraud.
• Keep a Close Eye on Accounts – Check into your account regularly to make sure you recognize all the transactions. Report any suspicious activity immediately so your bank can take action before further hacks take place.
• Set Privacy Controls on Social Media – This might not seem important for banking, but poor privacy elsewhere on the web can give a hacker the answer to many security questions (such as your mother’s maiden name, the name of your pet, your first car etc.). Details like this quickly become a reason for a thief to target your account.
• Protect Your Pin – Never give your pin to anyone, even someone you trust. Take measures to protect your pin in physical locations by shielding the console and checking for observers.
• Shred Physical Documents – Documents containing account numbers, social security numbers or any type of personal information should never be thrown in the trash.

Statistically, only a small number of people get hacked, yet this doesn’t mean criminals aren’t already checking out your account looking for a way in. Any account can be breached given enough time and effort, so the key is to put enough security measures in place so that criminals will lose interest.

How Can Social Media Help Business Strategy?

Social media is one of the most important, fastest growing parts of the internet. This term loosely refers to platforms and apps that allow users to create and share content, whilst at the same time participate in social networking. At first glance, social media might seem to be geared toward private individuals, but more and more businesses are finding these platforms to be a vital marketing asset.

Professional social media pages are key in any reputation management strategy. At Reputation Defender we help company brands to boost their online profile by improving search rankings and presenting a positive cohesive brand message. Official social media profiles are a target page one result, as well as a place to promote other content.

Social Media for Business

Business focused social media is all about using social channels to connect and engage with customers and build long term relationships. Of the many social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most important for focusing an initial business strategy.

The social media audience is vast. Globally, 1.55 billion people use Facebook per month; about 72 percent of all people active on the internet. Of these, 70 percent say they interact on a daily basis. By contrast, only 38 percent of Twitter users and 22 percent of LinkedIn account holders are active daily. None the less, Twitter is one of the most popular microblogging platforms with 341 million active monthly users, whilst LinkedIn is largely seen as the most official social media business directory.

Facebook

A business Facebook profile offers a chance to interact with customers on a personal level via a trusted platform. Followers will begin to see the business in the same way they view their friends. They’ll look forward to regular posts that are genuine and thoughtful.

At the same time, Facebook offers a way for new clients to find out important details about your business such as location, history and contact info. It’s important to claim your brand name as a keyword and link back to the company website through your business profile. You can also add a “Like us on Facebook” button to the company website. Facebook will offer different templates depending on the type of business to let you target the audience you want to reach.

Many Facebook features are designed to make the platform accessible and useful for business purposes. Call to action buttons introduced in 2014 offer suggestions for customer activity such as “contact us”, “book now” or “sign up.” One click will take the client straight to the desired page, so this is a very effective way of driving traffic to your website. Typical business posts can share brand-based videos, images and blog articles. A Facebook page can also be used to advertise a special offer or promote client feedback. Sponsored advertising campaigns disseminate material even more efficiently and ensures that all followers see all your posts, while Facebook Analytics will help to pinpoint your current activity level and target improvement.

Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter can be used to interact with customers, promote material and increase awareness for your product. A business profile should promote the business name, target an important keyword and link back to the official company website. A logo and other professional images can give the account a more personal touch.

Tweets can be leveraged for business purposes by promoting a specific marketing message. Tools such as TweetDeck and Periscope allow for multimedia tweets, while the hashtag system targets a specific topic zone. Like Facebook, Twitter offers paid advertising for businesses that want to maximize the marketing aspect of their account and Twitter Analytics offers tools for analyzing strategies and measuring success.

LinkedIn

As a professional networking site, LinkedIn carries more authority than Facebook or Twitter. This platform offers the opportunity to connect with colleagues and industry leaders, recruit potential employees and gain referrals. Managers will need a personal page to set up a business profile on LinkedIn, so this is the perfect opportunity to build your own career along with the company’s reputation. A Premium Account offers enhanced opportunities for profile viewing and targeted searches.

Like Facebook and Twitter, a business profile on LinkedIn should include all the company’s details and link back to the website. LinkedIn allows several different administrators, so it’s easy to delegate account management tasks to other employees. Showcase Pages on LinkedIn lets you target additional keywords and highlight specific company products and services. You can also post job applications and send targeted email marketing.

Fine-tune Your Profiles

In contrast to traditional advertising, social media is about connecting personally with customers whilst sharing the brand message. Especially on Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to strike a balance between promotion and providing genuinely interesting content that will make people want to follow your page.

  • Keep advertising in check – Out of 7 posts, only 1 should be obviously promotional.
  • Ask questions – Find out which industry related topics interest your followers the most.
  • Post fun facts – You’ll gain authority and help clients learn more about what you do.
  • Provide valuable tips – People will keep following to learn more.
  • Offer rewards – Organize a contest or offer points for virtual check-ins at your business.

A dedicated group of social media followers is a valuable reputational asset for any business. It increases customer retention and provides a long term client base which will help to counteract negative publicity in the future.

How to manage the online reputation of bakers and confectioners

Even though bakers and confectioners don’t have a massive presence on the Internet yet, online marketing is an alternative for them to promote their products, improve the positioning of their brand or increase their sales gradually. With the advent of the internet and the possibilities it brings, there are still many companies that don’t actively use it to their advantage. Confectioners and bakers are no exceptions, particularly in small to medium businesses where daily tasks and a limited staff make impresarios put aside topics that they don’t see as a priority.

To this, we could add an “aura of mystery” that has traditionally surrounded said field, in which bakers and confectioners aim to protect their recipes, their tips, and their secret ingredients. That’s why it seems unthinkable to post in social media a video in which the step-by-step process of a recipe is shown to make the most famous cake of a store or to upload the photo of an artisan bread along with the baking technique that was used to create it.

However, that situation has started to change, particularly in the United States and Europe, where the tendency is to promote and spread the “culture of bread”, in order to get the consumer to learn about bread and value a quality product. In this process, online marketing has turned into a strategically.

Contemporary bakers understand the importance of social media, they organize free courses that they promote through their blogs, they post their recipes and upload photos of what they’re baking. This is a way of generating trust in their customers because they’re saying “this is who I am, and this is my bread”.

The goal

Just like traditional marketing, virtual marketing wants potential customers to know the products or services of a company and understand how they can solve their problems or satisfy their desires. Thanks to that strategy, in time they end up becoming customers themselves.

In order to do so, a series of tools can be used that go from the corporate website accompanied by blogs, social networks, and mailing actions, up until page ads and search engine positioning, among others.

The great advantage is in the fact that presence of this type of channels usually does not imply a big investment and the greatest cost is the time that must be dedicated to this. However, for this to work, it’s necessary to define a work plan adjusted to the needs of the field and the business in particular. None of the tools available on the web would be useful without a well-defined and effective strategy.

Image courtesy of WorldSkills UK at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of WorldSkills UK at Flickr.com

The tools

In any case, the effectiveness of applied strategies depends on meeting the proposed goals. Just as it happens in traditional marketing, online marketing aims to draw the attention of the customers for them to become interested in knowing the company and, in time, acquire its products or services. A few alternatives are the following:

  • The company’s website: In certain cases, this tool is the basis of the entire strategy since through it, customers can get to know products or services, interact with the company, send suggestions, ask questions and acquire the items that they’re looking for in an online store. To do this it’s necessary to have a website which is manageable and interactive, where the user can have a pleasant experience and obtain answers in a timely manner.
  • Blog: In order to succeed, it will be necessary to create quality content and update the blog with a certain frequency. In this sense, you have to be innovative, provide interesting information and listen to your followers. It’s important to provide new contents periodically as well as secrets and tricks. That way you’ll  earn the trust and loyalty of the readers.
  • Social media: If the strategy is centered around social media, it will be important to know, for instance, that it’s not advisable to post the exact same information on Facebook and Twitter, and that each one of those sites is visited by people with different interests.

Bakers should be honest in social media since that is the key to success. Even though many people are still a little afraid of the internet, others show their followers the types of bread they make and how they make them. But it’s not okay to bake frozen bread and tell your followers that it was made in a wood-fired oven. Those sorts of trickeries are always discovered.

  • Email: It still plays a fundamental role in online marketing strategies. It’s perfect, not just to spread information about discounts and news, but to create customer loyalty as well. The most important thing when it comes to sending information to a large audience is to get companies to have their own databases, provided voluntarily by their customers.
  • Community managers: Even though the help of a person is not always required, their presence is necessary when the company decides to create and sustain stable relationships with their customers, their followers and, in general, the users who are interested in the brand. They will be responsible for creating attractive, high-quality contents for social networks, updating the corporate blog, defining the best schedules to post, monitoring the performance of the posts that they publish, creating stable and long-lasting relationships with followers and identifying if, at any given moment, an online reputation crisis arises.

Related content: Read Reputation Defender’s “The keys to online reputation in the field of leisure and tourism”

Guidelines for the online reputation of teachers on social media

via GIPHY

There truly is no privacy for anyone on the internet. But some people have to be a lot more careful than others when it comes to posting online bits and pieces of their lives. Their job depends on it. Among the jobs whose professionals are not within the category of celebrities, teaching is one of the most sensitive ones to captious interpretations about the contents that are shared on the web.

In a short time, cases have surfaced such as that of an elementary school English teacher who lost her job after a video that showed her twerking went viral. Or another teacher in England who was fired after parents found photos of her in her other job: a lingerie model.

Online reputation specialists believe that schools and universities should develop guidelines to behave on social networks, aimed at their employees. This is not common in educational institutions or many other companies and organizations.

Said guidelines would be a good tool for two reasons: The first one would be to start a reflection within the organization about how personal behavior on social networks can affect people as professionals and the institution where they work, and the second one would be to keep professionals from saying that they haven’t seen any rules or recommendations about this subject. These measures should protect the reputation of the educational institution or company.

The only thing that exists today is the recommendation of acting with common sense and prudence. Some of the cases that have been recorded of teachers getting fired, such as the ones we mentioned before, wouldn’t be real reasons to fire someone from teaching.

Teachers should be aware of the fact that, within their community, they are public characters. A teacher should be judged by the work he or she does in the institution, as long, obviously, as they don’t commit illegal activities on social networks such as, for instance, making xenophobic or racist comments.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some handy recommendations for teachers to behave on social networks.

Image courtesy of Berkeley Lab at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Berkeley Lab at Flickr.com
  1. Be informed about the guidelines or recommendations in your school or workplace’s social media. The responsibility of the person who publishes the content will always be heavier than that of the readers, so teachers must be very aware because their reputation is closely related to their role as educators.
  1. Don’t have your students as friends or followers on your social networking profiles. There are social networks where teachers can avoid being contacted by students -such as Facebook, where this prevention is recommended- and other ones where it’s more complicated such as Twitter or Instagram, particularly if students use aliases that have nothing to do with their real names. An option is to self-impose the rule of only accepting former students into your virtual circles.
  1. Be careful when it comes to choosing your profile image. It’s not convenient, for instance, to show photographs in which you are consuming alcohol -or drugs, clearly- or making gestures that can be interpreted as obscene or in bad taste.
  1. It’s not necessary to tell people the name of your school, university or workplace. It’s enough to use a more neutral phrase to talk about your job, such as “primary school teacher in New York”. It’s not convenient to mention your school in your social network comments either.
  1. Don’t geolocate your activities on social networks when you’re at school. That would make it easier for your students to find your account.
  1. Keep your Instagram account private and don’t even think about trusting Snapchat. Remember that even though Snapchat posts disappear after a short time, it’s always possible to take a screenshot or a photograph with another device for as long as the image is displayed.
  1. Don’t complain about your job in your social networking accounts and don’t criticize your students. Keep your thoughts for your private circles outside of the online environment.
  1. Never share photos of your students in your social networks. The right to privacy of minors is one of the few regulated aspects, and in some cases, those regulations are strictly enforced. Each parent has their own ideas about the convenience -or inconvenience- of their kids appearing on photographs that are posted on the internet. It’s better to avoid confusions.

At the end of the day, both teachers and professional workers of other environments, and grownups in general should be aware of the fact that the freedom of posting on social media is also an exercise of responsibility. Any person that requires their name to be visible as part of their job whether they be a teacher, a manager, a principal, an independent worker, a doctor or a salesman, should know that their students or their customers will want to know who they are and they will Google them, for sure, sooner or later.

Online Reputation Management For Engineers: A Brief Guide

What is online reputation and why should an engineer know how to manage it?

We could use a visual analogy to try and represent it, and say that your personal brand is the cologne you wear, and your online reputation is the trace or the “trail” you leave behind you as you go.

Let us talk a little about why it’s interesting for engineers, architects, and consultants, to maintain their trail with a good aroma that can be remembered. In times like the one we live in, where professional competition is becoming more leonine, we must not forget that reputation creates opportunities whereas professionalism takes advantage of them. If you are an engineer, you are surely going to be interested in the following tips.

Tips for engineers to earn (and maintain) a good online reputation

Image courtesy of moz278 at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of moz278 at Flickr.com

Aristotle Onassis used to say that, in order to be successful, you should appear tanned, live in an elegant building -even if it’s in the basement- let others see you in trendy restaurants, even if you only have a drink, and if you borrow, ask for a lot. This idea is useful to illustrate the point that we’ll explain next.

The first thing engineers have to ask themselves, is: what professional do you want to look like?  There is no doubt: to appear, you must be; but you must also appear. It’s no longer enough for you to be good at engineering, you must also tell it, show it, sell it. You won’t make the most out of your personal brand as an engineer if you do not get your customers to think of you for their engineering projects.

In previous posts, we talked about the importance of personal branding and the steps you could follow to develop it. In short, we gave you the keys to defining your brand and let it be known through social media, to “sell it,” if you will. However, your reputation as an engineer is what is being bought from you, it’s what you demonstrate your expertise, or skills, or professionalism. You can call it any way you want, but you get the idea.

Indeed, your brand helps you position yourself as an engineer in order to be found by the people and the companies that we want to reach. But what is the next step then?

Once you have positioned yourself as an engineer in the “2.0 world”, you’ll get to the next level, which is the one related to reputation.

Reputation comes from the opinions of others, and their value will, in turn, depend on their own reputation, influence, and notoriety, especially in the field of which we are talking about.

In order to succeed, you must show yourself as a successful person, but to look like a specialist in your professional field, not only do you have to be it within the world of engineering, but others must believe it as well.

To look like a professional, you must also be a professional in appearing so

Your formula to find your opportunities in engineering creates a reputation on how you deal with information and communication technologies.

Knowing how to manage your online presence, increasing your network to generate interactions, show up with determination to job offers or engineering projects, and so on, they all confirm your interest in proactive actions of seeking opportunities as an engineer. This gives companies who want a new engineer in their team a very important information about your character and skills, which can also positively influence the performance of your duties within that possible job opportunity.

Social networks may generate visibility, but if you’re looking for career opportunities, be professional

Social networks play a vital role in making your professional profile as an engineer more visible, but not more qualified if it’s not adequately published. Avoid compromising content and use an appropriate professional presentation card with an image that identifies you and makes you stand out in engineering.  Reputation is good only if it’s good!

Networking: Who says what?

What people say about you is your biggest guarantee. What they say about you is also a part of your professional profile. In social networks you don’t sell, you “get bought” based on the image or brand that you display and what other people say about you. Get LinkedIn endorsements for the positions you’ve held or the functions and skills you want to highlight.

Having a complete LinkedIn profile, as an engineer is an excellent opportunity to use this service as a platform for personal branding, to create relationships, to hire, to get hired, to seek business opportunities or to sell.

Are you ready to get your online reputation as an expert engineer?