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HootSuite Secure Profiles Curbs Inappropriate Comments

A version of an "Are you sure?" button called Secure Profiles is designed to prevent employee mistakes and misfires from ruining a company's reputation.

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HootSuite has added a "secure profiles" feature to its software to provide another line of defense in preventing social media mistakes or inappropriate comments from going live. It is designed to help avoid the kind of self-inflicted wounds suffered by big brands like Chrysler in recent months.

Available as part of HootSuite Enterprise, this option makes it possible to designate specific profiles as protected, meaning that users will be prompted to confirm a posting before it is distributed. HootSuite is one of the leading tools that allow marketing departments and agencies to broadcast messages across multiple social media channels, while also monitoring what others are saying about their brands.

Because the HootSuite dashboard controls multiple accounts, it can be a little too easy to send a tweet meant for one to the account of another, which can be embarrassing for the brand when someone posts a personal musing or venting to a corporate account. Chrysler recently fired its interactive agency, New Media Strategies, after an employee dropped an F-bomb in a tweet about bad Detroit drivers on @ChryslerAutos. The American Red Cross experienced a similar mishap on @redcross when an employee misdirected this tweet: "Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch beer . . . when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd."

The Red Cross story has a relatively happy ending, as reported on CNN Money. After the organization apologized for the mistweet in good humor, Dogfish beer and its fans took it on themselves to promote a blood drive under the hashtag "#gettngslizzerd." On the other hand, the CNNMoney story ends with a word of advice from the Red Cross: "Be careful of HootSuite!"

After seeing its own brand and the brands of its customers thus sullied, HootSuite has introduced a glorified "Are you sure?" popup into its social message publishing tool (only available in the $1,499 per month enterprise edition). To slow things down a little for those used to clicking past annoying confirmation buttons, and make users thing twice, they made the control a slider that you must drag from left to right before the message fires.

"Yes, it's a glorified are you sure button, but still this is still innovative -- nobody else in our space does this," HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes said in an interview Tuesday. It dovetails with other security features HootSuite has created for the use of agency and enterprise marketing teams, he said. For example, HootSuite controls access to a corporate social media presence through a shared account, where individual users have their own passwords, so that individual users don't have access to the master password.

HootSuite's press release cited a third case of social media embarrassment, where fashion design house Marc Jacobs was ridiculed by one of its own interns at @MarcJacobsIntl. A confirmation popup probably wouldn't have stopped an intern who, on his last day at the firm, went out tweeting, "Won't work in this town again!"

Holmes said other features of HootSuite Enterprise platform still could have been useful in that case -- for example, to quickly shut down the intern's access to the corporate Twitter account. Without that kind of protection, a disgruntled user with access to the Twitter password could easily change the password and lock the company out of its own account. In other words, this snafu could have been much worse, he said.

"It hasn't happened a lot, but we know it is going to be happening more" as business use of social media continues to grow into a mass market, Holmes said.

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