Social media marketing can be a powerful free way to spread your message about your book.Lindsey Teske However, you can open yourself up to identity theft and more if you use social media carelessly. Reading this article should give you the information you need to create a safe social media plan to build your author platform.

When my husband had his identity stolen, a thief used his name, address, and employer to take out a payday loan. Thankfully that crook is currently serving jail time. This crime could have been prevented with a simple credit freeze. It takes less than 10 minutes to freeze your credit score at each of the 3 credit bureaus, and now you can even do it online. A credit freeze prevents people from opening new credit cards or loans in your name. If you need credit in the future, you simply provide the credit bureaus with a PIN to allow a credit thaw.

Now is also a great time to refresh your passwords, especially if you were impacted by the Yahoo! breach. A strong password is a phrase that contains letters, capitals, numbers, and symbols. Take the first line of “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and you might get something like ttl*H1wwur? Try this with favorite quotes, lyrics, and poems and you will quickly be creating secure passwords in no time.

Be cautious about sharing sensitive information. Take the time to review this list of bank security questions. Certainly, you wouldn’t share your social security number or bank account numbers, but people sometimes play silly games that ask them for the name of their first pet, the street they grew up on, and where they met their spouse. Make sure to delete any post with this information, and refrain from sharing it in the future.

An image can say a thousand words, but are you sure you want to share all of that? I personally avoid posting photographs of my car, front door, and my child. Never post your passport, driver’s license, plane tickets or other important documents. When sharing photos, a stock photo is always a safe bet. There are lots of sources for open source photos online, but I prefer Canva instead. Canva is a free graphic design software that was created with social media in mind.

As a woman, I’m very conscious of the fact that not all my followers have innocent intentions. I never give out travel details or share places that I habitually go alone. There have been cases of burglars using the information on social media to target empty houses or overenthusiastic fans using social media location tags to surprise a celebrity who was seeking privacy. And some social-media-enabled crimes are even darker.

Since young children can’t fully comprehend internet safety, we must guard their privacy for them. My personal choice as a parent is to not share any information that would be embarrassing if read by a future teacher, boss, bully or spouse. I also choose not to use my child’s identity to further my business interest. There are ethical ways to have your child involved in your business, including paying her modeling fees to be part of advertisements and social media posts. This topic doesn’t have a clear answer, but I believe that starting with good intentions and revising as the child gets older is the best practice.

Beyond protecting yourself from financial harm it’s also easy to overshare personal information on the World Wide Web. For this step, you’ll need to take a field trip. Most people overshare when they feel comfortable and safe, like when you are alone in your bedroom. I encourage you to go out to a coffee shop with an old-fashioned pencil and paper. Write a list about what you’re not comfortable having the strangers in that room know about you. Make sure you consider your personal boundaries on family, politics, health, and finances. All those topics will eventually come up, and you need to know how you’re going to respond beforehand. Social media posts are hard to erase completely.

International laws, social media privacy setting and internet theft are constantly evolving, so I encourage you to continue learning and improving.

Don’t despair. Social media marketing can have a positive impact as well. If you create a clear author brand and post consistently your audience will grow organically, and so will your book sales.

Author Bio:

Lindsey Teske has loved books since before she could read. Throughout her life, she has worn many hats, including teacher, scientist and editor. She has worked on dozens of books in several fields including business, history and fiction. Her company, Of Ink & Pearls Publishing, is a full-service boutique publisher that helps independent authors reach their dreams.

Listen to the Interview

Lindsey Teske provided a guest interview for our weekly teleseminar series and gave many great tips about social media safety. Recordings of our weekly events are available to NFAA members, though we have decided to make this one free for all to listen to since this is important information. Listen to the interview here.