Update: On Saturday, June 9th 2012, Linkedin made a half-asses attempt at updating the public by publishing an FAQ to their blog. Within this post, they also state that they are taking the situation seriously, and back this statement up by declaring that an FBI investigation has undergone and that the FBI is “aggressively pursue[ing] the perpetrators of this crime”. This statement, in my opinion, is used as an excuse to why they can’t be more transparent and forthcoming about the current security breach. As of now, June 10th 2012, Linkedin has failed in their crisis response and efforts to 1) keep the public informed and at ease and 2) prove to be taking the situation as seriously as it in fact is.
As you may or may not have heard, an estimated 6.5 million Linkedin users’ passwords were hacked yesterday.
This is a big deal for a number of reasons:
- A doubt of how secure the profoundly huge Linkedin network actually is has been cast upon millions of people who actively use and invest their trust in the social network each day.
- Many people use the same password for multiple accounts and this can pose a serious risk on their personal privacy.
Side note: If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you change your Linkedin password – and every other account for which you use the same password.
How has Linkedin proved to fair in this time of crisis?
So far, Linkedin seems to be taking the situation seriously. They have dedicated their blog and Twitter accounts to reporting news and updates to their audience. However, from the time I wrote this post, it had been several hours since their last update on either channel, and that is much too long. Even when there’s no new news to report, updates should be published consistently – even if it’s just to say that no new information is available. In the time of a crisis, your audience is eagerly awaiting news and information and the more consistently you provide that news to them, the more they will:
- Regard your company or organization as the credible and reliable go-to source throughout the crisis.
- Begin to regain their trust in your brand.
What people truly want to see in these situations is (for them not to happen in the first place, but besides from that!):
- Regular and timely updates that they can count on. Linkedin, as of the time I wrote this post, has done a half-hearted job at accomplishing this.
- Not just words, but action from the company or organization in question. They want to see that you are taking the situation incredibly seriously. Linkedin seems to be doing this – so far.
- That your company truly cares and is sincerely apologetic – and, of course, proving that sincerity with action. Below is the apology Linkedin has issued via their blog:
“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our members. We take the security of our members very seriously.”
Considering that this apology was backed up with step-by-step details of what the company intends to do for and with the hacked accounts, it may pass. Though I’m one for a truly sincere apology and would have preferred to see something a little more heart-felt and extensive.
- Once the crisis is resolved, it is imperative that your company or organization prove that they have learned their lesson and show your audience how you’re taking the appropriate measures to ensure that a similar situation never happens again. It will be interesting to see what Linkedin will do here, once the immediate crisis is resolved.
Focusing on building the relationship with your customers
Especially since we’re talking about a a breach of security, and therefore a breach of the trust of their users, Linkedin should be focusing their time on both fixing and securing their network and rebuilding that trust – and the relationship they share with their customers.
As they were looking into the possible threat yesterday afternoon, Linkedin did take the opportunity to publish a blog post aimed at helping users further protect themselves from similar and common situations regarding the hacking of their passwords and different accounts. This is a similar strategy to the one Taylor Guitars took back in 2009 in the midst of the United Breaks Guitars crisis.
The fact that Linkedin took the opportunity to do this enforced their effort to show their care and concern for their customers. It was a smart move, though it may not be truly appreciated until after users have been assured that their accounts were not compromised, and after the social network proves to take the appropriate measures to make up for their lack of top-of-the-line security.
Waiting to see what’s to come
All in all, this is a serious situation Linkedin has found themselves in, once again, and I look forward to watching how they choose to respond and connect with their customers throughout the crisis, as well as once it officially gets resolved.
How do you feel?
Were you one of the many millions of Linkedin users whose password got hacked? Whether you were or weren’t, how do you feel about both the situation as a whole and the way Linkedin has been handling it? Share your comments with me below!
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.