Bankwest stung by Twitter impersonator: How to monitor your social media presence

A false Twitter account claiming to be that of a senior Bankwest executive has caused a headache for the bank and illustrated the importance of monitoring social media for business.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Bankwest had to follow a costly and complex process to shut down the impersonator’s account and remove the slanderous tweets.

If the comments had been made on a news site, the bank told the newspaper, it would have obtained a court injunction to uncover the impersonator, but it was left hamstrung by the Twitter impersonator.

A spokesperson for Bankwest said the bank picked up the comments through social media monitoring.

Catriona Pollard, director of CP Communications, said Bankwest’s predicament demonstrated the need for businesses to monitor social media.

“This is not a reason not to use social media for your business; the benefits far outweigh the negatives,” she says.

“If you have used social media over a period of time and you have built your reputation, if something negative like this happens you are in a much better place than if you are not using it at all.

“Reputation is the new currency and you need a bucketload of it to work for social media.”

Twitter’s website details a process for reporting Twitter impersonators. For users with a high number of followers, Twitter uses a blue tick to “verify” the account is genuine.

Pollard recommends her clients claim their own name on social media, although she says this would not necessarily stop an impersonator who just needs to spell a name slightly differently.

“I tell people to claim your name, even if you are not going to use it anyway across all social media platforms as well as your own domain,” she says.

“I think that’s a good thing to do as a matter of course as an individual; that’s not necessarily a company’s responsibility, I think that smart people do that.

“Just claiming your name will not stop impersonation: you need to make sure you have monitoring happening.”

She recommends monitoring social media, whether by using an agency or through free monitoring tools.

“Businesses need to monitor their social media not only for negative comments but also to see how effectively they are using it; are they getting retweets, what is the sentiment out there.”

One of the most popular ways of monitoring social media is to hire a monitoring agency to do the work such as BuzzNumbers.

Jess Whittaker, who describes her role as a “product evangelist” at BuzzNumbers, says social media monitoring is important for the reputation management of a business.

“You don’t know what you don’t know. For a lot of companies it’s important to be ahead of the public in finding out what is being said. There is also an element of being able to track competitors to make sure you are not making the same mistakes or keeping in front of what they are up to,” she says.

Whittaker says there are many ways that businesses can monitor social media for free using tools such as Google Alerts and Social Mentions.

She also recommends using the search bar on Twitter to monitor mentions of your business along with tools such as TweetDeck and HootSuite, although Whittaker warns free social media monitoring has its limitations.

“Free tools are very siloed on their approach; you track news here, Facebook here, Twitter there,” she says.

For businesses that want more advanced monitoring, tools such as Sprout Social give reporting capabilities and report social media mentions in a graph.

BuzzNumbers charges businesses about $800 a month, for which they receive reporting capabilities with accurate data on social media that is indexed in real time.

“We bring all online sources into one spot: online news, blogs, forum, social media, YouTube so there is the depth of data as well as the breadth of data,” says Whittaker.

“At the end of the day what you pay for is what you get.”

This article first appeared at SmartCompany.

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