Social media can be a tough place to be when the crowd out there isn’t on your side, or if some troll decides to make your life a misery.
Brand ambassadors and influencers can get those problems multiplied tenfold when representing brands or sharing your views online. It’s important that once you start to build up a significant number of followers that you use some techniques to stay safe for your mental and physical well-being, both online and offline.
Tips for Influencers and Ambassadors to Keep Safe Online
1. Be Street-Wise
When something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Trust your gut.
If a brand is inviting you to join their ambassador program and offering you an unrealistic sign up bonus, it’s probably too be good to true. If you’re unsure, do some searching on the internet to determine if the brand’s ambassador program is legit.
Start by analysing the brand’s website and social media to understand the legitmacy of the brand. Pay close attention to the sign up URL. Sometimes scammers will send a link that might look and feel like a legit brand but you can easily assess if it’s real, by going to the offiicial brand’s account and comparing the two URL’s.
Still not sure? Look to see if there are any Facebook groups or online forums where other social media users might be talking about the brand’s ambassador program or warn you about a scam.
2. Keep Safe from Trolls and Stalkers
Throwaway disrespectful comments are one thing, but messages going so far as wishing personal harm are sadly not uncommon. Bullies, trolls and stalkers online can be no joke. To protect yourself you should block followers in short shrift if comments go beyond constructive criticism.
Nobody is expecting every ambassador’s followers to worship them like deities, but when the gloves start to come off, block the trolls and move on. Vicious comments only get shared, and a ‘rabble’ mentality of negativity can build rapidly. Nobody needs it. Plus, it’s bad for your personal brand.
3. Guard Your Online Identity with a Proxy Server.
Social media is a great place to connect with family, friends and communities which is why so many of us share so much of our lives on our favourite social channels. However, the more you share on social media, the more information is available to be stolen. It’s each individual’s choice to find the balance between connection and protection.
When scammers have the right information, they can easily impersonate you on social media by cloning your account. This is why you might want to consider adding an extra layer of protection to your online presence.
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with a residential proxy server can enable ambassadors to keep their location hidden. A proxy server effectively puts an encrypted ‘middleman’ connection between an influencer’s device and their ISP (Internet Service Provider). If a hacker tries to crack any passwords or find out where the influencer lives, the VPN prevents this from happening.
The VPN and residential proxy also anonymizes the ambassador’s online activity, so their browsing history can’t be logged and sold by any unscrupulous employee perhaps working at the ambassador’s ISP company.
While a VPN can protect your location, it’s important to first take the most fundamental step to protect yourself. Be sure to never share your live location in captions and geo-tags or share too much about your daily routine and whereabouts.
4. Use Two-Factor Authentication.
Together with not sharing any personal details such as date of birth, email address, phone numbers or other identifying information, ambassadors should always use two-factor authentication to log into their social accounts. A hacker might just be able to crack a password, but if they don’t know the phone number associated with it, they can’t break into an account.
Also, two-factor authentication alerts a user if someone is trying to log in, so ambassadors can be aware if a malicious attempt at a hack is underway, and then take appropriate action.
Using strong passwords with random special characters is essential. Passwords should never be simple or obvious, like ‘password123’ or the name of the ambassador’s dog (which everyone already knows!) – such practices are a surefire way to get hacked.
There are several free password managers available online, also downloadable as browser extensions, which can generate and remember strong passwords. This avoids having to write passwords in a diary page, or worse still, keeping a spreadsheet of them on a laptop desktop or in the ‘notes’ section of your phone.
5. Don’t Go On Any Phishing Trips
Ambassadors should be super-sensitive and extra sensible before clicking on links that appear in their inboxes. Especially those encouraging them to donate to charity or attend an event, and those claiming a package is waiting for them, or they need to update a password on an account like Netflix.
Look carefully at the sending domain of the email; not just the email address that it appears to be from.
Likewise, if an influencer goes out for coffee at a local mall, they should beware of using the mall’s public free Wi-Fi. The person sitting in a corner sipping their latte might have had you log onto their personal hotspot that you think is the mall’s WiFi.
They might be collecting your passwords as you surf away. A VPN with an encrypted residential proxy connection would detect the dodgy connection and disconnect the instant any potential malware was found.
If it Feels Wrong, it Probably Is
All in all, an ambassador’s safety is all about common sense: using strong passwords and online security measures, being careful what you say online or in person, and being canny enough not to upset anyone. That’s the way to keep your online career alive.