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5 Ways Social Media Influencers Can Protect Themselves from Online Abuse and Cyber-Stalking

July 11, 2017

For many creative and entrepreneurial users, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube are valuable pathways to career success. We know them as the food bloggers whose mouthwatering photography makes our stomachs rumble. Or lifestyle gurus who seem to be on unending international vacations. Or those fashion bloggers who somehow wake up every morning and put together effortless looks. These social media entrepreneurs receive hundreds of likes on their posts and amass followers in the thousands.

These images are aspirational and, for many, a way for them to make money, which is made explicit by the “#ad” or “#sponsored” tags that follow their captions. The business model opens them up to a level of unsolicited criticism that, on some level is expected. But online abuse, harassment, and even stalking of social media influencers should never be tolerated or accepted as part of finding success on those platforms.

Talent agencies have created departments dedicated to discovering and fostering branding opportunities for these YouTube video bloggers and Instagram stars. Along with getting deals for their clients, social media talent agents should be focused on establishing procedures that effectively and swiftly address online abuse against their clients.

Below are a few tips on how social influencers can stay safe while building up their brands on their platform of choice!

5 WAYS SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES ONLINE

Monitor your comments, likes, and messages for hostile engagement from specific users.

For most industries, repeated visitors are important for success! But obsession begins slowly and it can lead to unwanted behavior. Keep an eye on users who are always commenting or “liking” your content seconds after you post it. Make a note of followers who seem to be personally affected or offended by your posts (“Why the f*ck did you wear that?” or “Why didn’t you post earlier?”).

What starts off as strange may later escalate to something more serious, so chronicle bizarre behavior once it happens by saving screenshots of unsettling comments or messages. If you’re represented by an agent, make sure they’re aware of anyone you think is exhibiting disturbing behavior. And don’t be afraid to ban anyone from your page who makes you uncomfortable.

Limit your geo-tagging.

Checking in or posting your locations on a frequent basis is risky no matter who you are. But if you’re sharing that information with thousands of people every day you could be jeopardizing your safety. Think of your content as data that can be translated into statistics. If you are constantly placing yourself at the same restaurant, bar, store, or neighborhood over the course of several months, followers can begin to track your habits. In fact, if you have a favorite spot that you like to go to with friends or family, keep it a secret.

Don’t respond to direct messages.

And if you’re able to…don’t check ’em at all. Some unstable or troubled followers might be triggered by the fact that you’ve “seen” their message and haven’t responded. Or, worse yet, replying to someone could lead you into an exchange you really don’t want and then you might feel pressured to keep communicating privately to avoid hurt feelings. Do your best to contain your engagement with your followers to your comments page so that’s it’s public.

If you’re worried that not checking your messages could lead to you losing out on branding opportunities, make sure your bio section clearly states how producers, press, or marketing execs can contact you. A serious professional won’t slide into your DMs. They’ll reach out to you through the contact information you’ve publicly provided.

Remember that engagement doesn’t have to be personal.

In most cases, if someone liked what you’re wearing, your smile, what you baked, whatever – a polite thank you or “like” is enough and keep it moving. Meaningful interactions with your fans or followers doesn’t mean always replying to their comments with personal or emotional responses. Treating your social media as a business means you should apply the same boundaries as you would for any office gig. Your coworkers don’t need to know everything about your life so why should your followers?

Ask permission to post images or videos of your friends or family.

Limiting how much followers can confirm about your personal life is never a bad idea. And, frankly, not everyone wants social media fame! If you have a large fan base and want to post content featuring other people, ask first. A simple, “Hey, I want to share this on my page that has over 5,000 followers. That OK?” shows that you value their privacy as much as your own.

Influencers, we admire your hustle! Be careful and happy posting!

We know putting yourself out there and sharing your talents with your following is what makes the job exciting! But if anyone is making violent threats towards you or your loved ones, contact your local law enforcement immediately.