80% of business owners I meet in my daily life as Director of bustling marketing agency, Pixel Co Creative & Marketing, do not own all of their digital assets. And they don’t know they don’t own them until I make that discovery when we start working together.
When I begin working with a client, I gain access to their accounts. They need to have access in order to give me access. And in some cases, they need ownership. This is where we discover 8 out of 10 clients find out they don’t own their own digital business assets.
I’m an admin and can post, so I’m the owner right?
This is usually met with surprise, followed by, “oh, that page was started by my brother’s friend’s son, and he moved to France 4 years ago, and I don’t have his contact details”.
Most of you reading this will say, ‘it’s okay, I can post to my Facebook page, I’m an admin, so I’ve got ownership!” But admins are not owners.
When we discover a client doesn’t own their digital assets, the hunt begins to find who does (usually unknowingly) to request they transfer ownership to the rightful business owner.
An example of ownership headaches
One of my clients recently acquired a new business; I advised her to gain access to the business’s digital channels before settlement. We set up a Zoom call with the seller to transfer ownership.
In the Zoom call, the seller was unsure who owned the digital assets. We found her website was owned by the marketing company that created it, the Facebook page was owned by a mystery person (after a long goose hunt, we discovered was owned by a marketing contractor hired years ago), the Google My Business was owned by a very old email account she no longer had access to, and the list goes on. This then held up the ownership transfer of the assets as we started a manhunt to find and acquire ownership, and it also held up the sale of the business.
Most business owners won’t know how to access their digital marketing assets or know who owns them. They assume because they are an admin, that that’s where the story ends.
When you get hacked.
And sure, most people don’t realise they don’t own the channel, and it doesn’t affect them.
Until they get hacked…
Another client approached me to conduct Facebook advertising for their national travel company. On inspection, neither the business owners nor any of the staff owned the Facebook, Google or Instagram accounts (they were admins and could access and post content to them, but weren’t the owners). So setting up advertising for them became tricky and ongoing; they needed to claim ownership of their digital assets. We found their original marketing consultant started their page years ago and had a Business Manager that owned the page, but here’s where it gets messy… we also found that she no longer could access her Business Manager as her personal FB page had been hacked. And, the next kicker, she was the only admin of her Business Manager, so with her locked out, it was now under the control of the hackers.
And they sell stretchy pants on your page.
So now we have discovered my clients cannot be the owner of their own Facebook page, and worse, it has now been accessed by a hacker. Sure enough, within a few weeks the hacker removed their admin access and took control of the page, posting spam to their 8000 followers. They were selling a questionable range of men’s stretchy pants.
And within a day of the spammy content being posted, they deleted the page. 14 years of content for this national travel brand… gone! Many chats and phone calls to FB agents later, and each agent, while they could see the hacker’s activity, they had no ‘authority’ to either remove the hacker, freeze the page or give the owner access.
One would think the FB agents work for the hackers, not the business owners whose accounts and credibility are blatantly being abused.
As a content creator and marketer, this makes my heart so sad. All that work to create content, build a brand and an audience gone in the blink of an eye, and it was preventable.
So, if I can share one thing that I hope you take seriously, it’s that you are more than likely NOT the owner of one or more of your digital assets and are at risk of being hacked.
Another client who has run Facebook ads, Google ads and SEO for a few years onboarded with our team to take on these services, and on acquiring access to these platforms we discovered they did not own their Ad Accounts; they were owned by the agency. This meant all the data they had paid for over multiple years, they had to leave behind. The ads we set up were on a fresh ad account, which was in the client’s ownership, yet it had to go through a learning period again as it had no history.
This data you collect and pay for over time is very valuable, and should be yours – so make sure all of your accounts, even if managed by an agency, are fully owned by you.
Here are the marketing-related platforms that you need to have logins for and ownership of:
- Facebook Business Suite
- Facebook Ads Manager
- Google Email
- Google My Business
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Tag Manager
- Google Ads
- Linked In
- Your email marketing platform
- Your company email hosting
- Your website admin panel
- Your website hosting platform
- Your domain name manager.
To note, for Facebook, being an admin does not make you an owner, and for Google, rather than just be an owner, you need to be a primary owner.
So, if you can’t access your page, just start a new one and delete the old one, right? WRONG! You can’t even delete your old business page if you are not the owner.
And I talk to so many business owners who say, well, I clearly own the business and have business registration and proof of identity to prove it, so let’s just call FB and tell them.
One does not simply contact Facebook
This is where Facebook has non-existent customer service, you are unable to contact a real person. If you search the platform for help, you will not find any email or chat service to talk to a human, just a maze of self-help articles.
There is one secret spot in the Ads Manager platform where a Live Chat box appears (if you don’t have Ads Manager you won’t have access to this) and you can get through a raft of automated messages to a Live Chat function eventually, in which you can request a phone call. When they call, you will speak to an agent who runs through a pre-written script who has no authority to make any changes, and anything that is above their basic help info will be referred to a technical consultant, and they’ll email you later. And you’ll be waiting for that email for months, if it ever comes.
So one does not simply contact FB. This is why it is so important to make sure you are protected and all the hard work and time you spend on FB is not taken from you by one of these low life hackers, to sell their stretchy pants.
Lastly, your FB business page is not logged into directly, you access business pages by logging into your personal profile. So to keep your business safe you must keep yourself safe too, use 2FA on all of your accounts, especially FB.
Then when you create a business page, FB will also create a Business Suite account for you. I will suggest you go one step further and create a Business Manager Account, google how to do this, and connect yourself to it, and the business page.
Have more than one admin on your business manager account
Then connect a second admin to this business manager. You must always have more than one admin. So if one gets hacked, the other can jump in quickly before removing them.
If you would like a transparent audit of your accounts to ensure you are the owner of your digital assets, either to prepare your business for sale (an itemised list of all assets and access information is more valuable), or for your own online safety, reach out to our helpful team at Pixel Co-Creative today.
Writer Kara de Schot is the Director of Queensland-based marketing agency, Pixel Co Creative & Marketing. Gold award winner of Ausmumpreneur’s Digital Marketing category in 2022, Kara is on a mission to make marketing simple and accessible for all levels of businesswomen to grow their business. She leads a team of 15 talented creative experts from branding and website design, copywriting and PR to marketing strategy, social media management, and advertising. She works with both startup to national and international brands.
Written by: Kara de Schot
Date: 6th November 2022