“Someone has been tweeting horrible things about you. Click this link to see what they have been saying.”

This direct message is what I opened this morning in my Twitter account. Another one I received recently was similar in format but said, “someone has written an awful blog about you, click here to see it.”

Now, naturally I do not want there to be lies and rumors spread about me or the organization I work for, so of course I wanted to click and be sure this was not true. But don’t do it! It is a trap, and there are many like it.

Just when you think Apple is giving away free iPads or Target is giving away $100 giftcards, you realize you have been tricked by your “best friend,” more likely the hacker that used your best friend’s name to spread the false offerings. These are all tempting to click, but use common sense and understand these tricks are out there. It is also important to take steps to be sure you don’t become that “best friend” who is spreading the spam.

One man I know lost his son to a tragic accident several months ago, and his Facebook wall was flooded with comments offering condolences. Then I saw one random post of a friend sharing about a great deal with the link to the deal attached. Now, you know that had to be spam, and this happens all too often, even at the worst times. How embarrassed would you be to see that your organization or personal account was hacked and posted about deals on a person’s wall in a situation like that?

For this reason, as well as the fact that you do not want to download viruses, take precautions to make sure none of the above happens to you.

Starting with the basics, don’t ever share your password with others, and use different passwords for all your sites. Do not open a link unless you are absolutely sure it can be trusted. Even then, I would copy the link, open a new window, then paste it in a search engine to be sure the site is legitimate.

If you are the social voice of your organization, experts recommend an organization creates house rules. These social media house rules can be published on your organization’s site for your consumers to see and/or used as internal rules for consistent messaging and safety.

Consider only giving one person access to your main site, or if you need to have more than one administrator, an article in The BrainYard suggested using third-party applications such as HootSuite so multiple employees can post but only one will have access to the passwords of the actual sites.

The article titled, “5 Ways Enterprises Can Stay Safer On Facebook,”  had some other great points from Andre Eaddy, director of cybersecurity portfolio services at Unisys, that I believe are important.

Eaddy suggested to take action quickly if there is a compromise: when an organization’s brand or reputation has been jeopardized, employees need to act immediately and be sure the right messaging is produced to alleviate the damage.

Another important item to remember as an organization is that if you have given multiple people access to the organization’s social site, the organization may face issues down the road if that employee leaves or the relationship turns. For this reason, precautions should be considered before deciding to allow multiple people to manage your site.

Eaddy also offers similar steps like not sharing passwords and educating the organization’s social media users.

To sum it up, be smart about social media. Just because a message looks personalized, it doesn’t mean it is. Just because an offer seems appealing, don’t click it. While social media is a great tool for you to connect with your employees and consumers on a more personal level, you must understand the dangers before you decide to activate these sites for your organization.