No doubt about it: getting hacked is one of the worst things that can happen to a brand. Whether they’re motivated by monetary gain or data theft, or just doing it for the sake of trolling, hackers are getting increasingly good at outsmarting online security systems. From multinational corporations to company CEOs and corporate Twitter accounts, some of the biggest companies in the world have had their image hijacked in front of a global audience.
Would you know what to do if a hacker targeted your brand? Hopefully it will never happen. But, just in case it does, the following tips are designed to help you recover in the wake of a cyber-attack.
As with any crisis, panicking will only make matters worse. It’s essential that brands act quickly after being hacked, but appearing calm and in control is just as important. If you freak out, your customer base will probably freak out too, causing even more damage to your brand’s reputation. Instead of having a complete meltdown, work with your team to come up with an effective plan for damage control.
Do you think Burger King panicked when someone hacked their Twitter account, changed their profile picture to a McDonald’s logo and started posting inappropriate tweets to thousands of their followers? Well, probably. But they were able to put their panic aside and quickly regain control of their account before apologising for the security breach. They even gained a bunch of new followers!
Once your brand has been hacked, refusing to acknowledge the problem or accept responsibility for it is pointless. Fessing up to your customers may seem daunting at first, but trying to conceal a hack can backfire spectacularly. Take Target for example – right in the middle of the busy Christmas shopping period in the US, customers found out through the media that over 40 million of their debit and credit card numbers had been stolen by hackers.
That’s not the worst of it, though. Target knew about the security breach before the media got a hold of the story, but they didn’t tell their customers. Their reputation ended up taking a massive hit in the aftermath of the hack.
Regular communication is crucial if you want to avoid permanently damaging your brand’s image. Rather than giving customers the silent treatment, do everything you can to keep them in the loop. As soon as you realise that a hack has taken place, either send out an email or use social media to let customers know that you are aware of the situation and are doing your best to remedy it.
As an example of what not to do, just consider the disaster Ashley Madison faced when their users’ data was stolen and they did nothing to reassure their clients!
Depending on your brand and audience, you could even turn the hack into a joke. Everybody makes mistakes – seeing that your company is vulnerable (yet able to laugh about it) could actually make your brand more relatable to customers.
If your brand ever gets hacked, we hope this advice will help you handle it. In the meantime, just keep on acing your social media.