A New Social Media Danger: Badge Bragging

You might know the phenomenon in which people are posting their new job on all social media platforms and in some cases adding a high-resolution photo of their workplace badge. It is obviously a great thing that people managed to find a new job and share their news with friends through social media, but including a photo of your new badge can have serious consequences.

Symantec’s Cyber Security Services shared a blog post by Brian R. Varner warning of the dangers of this so-called “badge bragging”. The problem with this phenomenon is that hackers have access to digital tools that can process large amounts of information from posts on all social media platforms in a short period of time.

The blog post contains an example of how badge bragging could pose serious problems. The following quote is a small part of that example.

An employee badge photo could end up being a treasure trove of information to an attacker. This hospital badge had Richard’s full name, his level of education (including his degree), the name of the hospital, the branch name and the department Richard worked in. In Richard’s social media post, he proudly named his first day in the caption of the post, and the hospital badge even included its expiration date. With that information, an attacker could learn that the hospital rotates badges every four years, giving an attacker physical access for years. Because Richard took the photo with a smartphone, the high-resolution camera made the bar code in the photo visible. The attacker likely also noticed from the photo that the badge was clipped to fabric, meaning that Richard likely scans his badge via hand-held scanners when he needs access within the hospital. And because the image is a high-quality photo, the attacker could easily make a usable copy of the badge.

This example perfectly shows how dangerous badge bragging can be. Besides being a danger to himself, by providing a lot of information about himself, Richard is a danger for the hospital he works at, because anyone can access the hospital with the bar code visible in the badge.

Varner ended with three of recommendations for organizations to avoid these issues. The first recommendation is that they should create a living policy, which means that they should create a policy, which states that it is not allowed to photograph yourself with the badge. In this case the employees have to sign or demonstrate that they understood this. The second recommendation is that security should be a part of training for new employees, so they know the importance of it and therefore will not photograph themselves with their badge. The last recommendation is that an organization should reinforce good hygiene, so the organization has to keep communicating with its employees and repeating that they should not do this. It is good to give examples of other organizations  that got into serious trouble because of badge bragging.

So next time you see someone post that he or she found a new job, congratulate him or her. When you notice this person has added a photograph of their new badge, you may still congratulate this person, but please warn this person about badge bragging. It looks so innocent, but it can have massive consequences.


Teenagers prefer Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat over Facebook

Nowadays there are a lot of social media channels through which we can communicate with others. You might have an account on all of them or maybe only on a few. A survey was held among American teens to find out which social media channels are most popular amongst them.  A surprising finding might be that Facebook is becoming less popular for teenagers.

The survey included 9,400 teens from 13 till 19 years old, coming from households with an average income of $68,000. Around 56% of the teens were male.

The results showed that Instagram was the most important and popular social media. One third of the teens ranked Instagram first. Twitter ended second in the survey, ranked first by 20% of the teenagers, which is a little better then Snapchat’s 19%. It might be surprising that Facebook is not as popular under youngsters as you might expect.  Only 15% of the teens considers Facebook as their most important social network. The results are also in the figure above.

From Facebook’s perspective 15% can be considered as slightly disappointing. However, we must not forget that Facebook bought Instagram in 2012. Even though Facebook is losing interest from teens over the years, the growth of Instagram makes up for this. Facebook’s core audience is getting older and the figure shows this as Facebook was by far the most important social networking site for teens in 2012.

So should Facebook be disappointed with the results? I don’t think so. Facebook still owns the most popular social networking platform for teenagers and has the ability to focus on an older core audience now with their own platform. This gives Facebook the possibility to provide social networking platforms that suit anyone.

So now you know which social media are most popular and important for teens, did you expect this result? And what would be your personal order of social media? And what do you reckon Facebook thinks after seeing the results of this survey?


Social Networks Stimulate Exercising

Yearly millions of dollars are invested in promotional ads and social media campaigns to get people exercising in the United States. The country is dealing with obesity among its inhabitants and even though there is so much money going on in campaigns, still 43% of the Americans are not exercising enough.

A research from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that social networks help to motivate exercising more often. One group of people got divided into smaller groups with so-called ‘health buddies’ and they could keep track of each other’s progress. Whenever one of their buddies signed up for a yoga class, the others got an email notification about this. In the other main group of the experiment people got shown promotional videos that should help to keep them motivated and tell them about the importance of exercising.

The results showed that the group that was shown promotional videos only had a short term effect on their motivation, but they would lose this motivation quickly. In the groups with the health buddies participants became more motivated over time. It must be noticed that in this research the participants only had to deal with positive signals from each other. In regular social networks there are usually mixed signals, positive and negative. This could be someone taking a yoga class but also someone posting they are at McDonald’s for instance.

The power of social influence is not new and was well known before the start of the trial. For now researchers are not sure yet why social networks manage to stimulate exercising. In their new research on this they are trying to find out whether it is competition causing this or the friendly social support people get from the health buddies. Which of the two options do you think that keeps people motivated?


Road to Brand Evangelism

Since the beginning of social media brands gradually found their way to their customers. This can be done through advertisements and/or creating their own channels and pages on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media application. We all realize that the traditional marketing approach differs from the social media approach and we probably all know a couple of examples from our Facebook News Feed proving that point. We can’t imagine a social media world without digital marketing or advertising. Or can you?

Nowadays more and more people find advertisements annoying and therefore are finding alternatives for the services they normally make use of. Two great examples of this are Spotify and Netflix. People that normally would listen to the radio now prefer Spotify, which is ad free if you buy Spotify Premium. People that always watched their favourite series on TV nowadays use Netflix. And how do people get rid of most of the advertisements on the computer? They have an ad blocker installed.

So how does this ad blocker affect advertisements? I assumed it would have a negative impact for the marketer as those people won’t be aware of the brand and therefore can’t get engaged with the brand. Instead, according to Ben Kunz it possibly is the best thing that ever happened to the ad industry. Now people have ad blockers installed, the marketer knows this person is not interested in advertisements. Therefore the marketer does not need to pay for those that block advertisements on their computer. This will result in higher returns on investments.

Brands have three main social media objectives: brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth marketing. In the first stage awareness is created before you are able to get engaged with a brand. And normally you are engaged with a brand before you will start talking about it with friends, assuming it is in a positive way. In case a brand succeeds in reaching these objectives there will be brand evangelism. This means that you are trying to convince your friends and family to buy products from that specific brand.

A great example of this is KLM Surprise. When you tweeted on the airport you were going to take a KLM flight, KLM Surprise would contact you and get you a personal gift. Therefore they were going through all your information on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or anything else they could find to surprise you. And because people were on the airport and had to wait for a long time, they could use this time to share their surprise with all their friends. This helped KLM succeeding with these earlier named three objectives.

On their road to brand evangelism KLM made some huge steps with KLM Surprise as this campaign became very well known. Now you are thinking of brand evangelism, do you reckon you are guilty of it? Are there certain brands that absolutely stand out for you? And did you advice people you know to buy their products?


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Kunz, B. (2015) Ad blocking may save digital marketing from itself’, http://digiday.com/agencies/ad-blocking-may-save-digital-marketing/, 16 September 2015.
Low, K. (2014) ‘The Importance of User Experience for Digital Marketing: 5 Key Tips’, http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2380064/the-importance-of-user-experience-for-digital-marketing-5-key-tips, 16 September 2015.