You can’t always predict what’s right around the corner. Take 2020, for example. Nobody knew that a global pandemic would disrupt the world as we knew it, and many business owners were blindsided by it.
You may have started last year with big plans for your business. But, after the unexpected happened and the pandemic hit, you had to quickly adapt.
I was amazed by the incredible resilience and agility of business owners, as they pivoted their products and services online to overcome the disruption. Channels like Zoom, social media, and other online platforms exploded with people utilizing them to connect with clients like never before.
These platforms are fantastic for maintaining connection, and even deliver products and services in some cases. But we are pouring our data into sites that don’t belong to us. What happens to that data if something goes wrong?
My online business recently faced a huge, unforeseen challenge. In retrospect, I could have taken further action to safeguard my business and possibly prevent it from happening. So, in this episode of The Mindset Coach, I’m going to share what happened, along with practical tips to help you protect your online business.
You can listen to this episode of the podcast below or keep reading…
You might want to grab a pen and paper so you can note down these must-dos – and learn from my experience!
How vulnerable is your online business?
Unfortunately, I was recently the subject of a cyberattack. My personal Facebook page was disabled, and my Facebook ads account was hacked. Ads were run through my account that I had not authorized, and payments totalling £2,895 were fraudulently taken from my taken from my PayPal account.
To gain access back into my account, I had to provide identification to Facebook. My account was reactivated, but a short while later it was disabled again, along with one of my Facebook pages, and one of my Instagram accounts.
I lost my personal connections with friends and family, disappeared from groups that I’m a paid or voluntary member of, and was removed from social communities that I’m a part of. I quickly realised how essential social media is to my business and communication.
The attack hugely impacted my business, as I no longer had access to my Facebook pages or groups. It also automatically deleted my posts, including all of the video replays I’d shared in my groups for The Mindset Coach Certification Program.
It was a relief to know that not all of my channels were impacted. I deliver training via Zoom, which backs up the content, and house more content separately on my membership site. But my Facebook content was completely erased.
I think many of us take a naïve approach to our online data. When it comes to social media channels, like Facebook, you don’t own your data, so, if it gets erased, there’s very little you can do to retrieve it. That’s why it’s pivotal to safeguard against online attacks and take extra precautions with your data
How to protect your online business
You might think it won’t happen to you. But if your social media account gets disabled for any reason, you stand to lose potentially years of connections and content. It also takes a lot of time and effort to get your channels back up and running, and the consequences can be long lasting.
By taking preventative action you can give your business the best chance at withstanding a cyberattack, or at the very least, be in the best position to bounce back if the worst happens.
Here are the five things that you can do to secure your online business.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
You might engage with your clients or prospective clients on certain social media channels and you’ll likely be on these channels more often than others. But you should consider how many platforms you’re showing up on. Do your clients know where to find you outside of your usual channel? Sharing your other profiles across different channels can let your clients know that you’re also accessible elsewhere, in the event that one account is compromised.
If you put more time and energy into one social media site, are you also putting extra effort into protecting that site? Preparing a plan can help you quickly address any issues with your accounts if your data is taken away from you. If you have a page or group, you can add trusted admins who can grant you access back into the account. You should also enable two-factor authentication to prevent password hacking.
You can also download your personal and business Facebook pages’ content. I suggest you do this regularly, for example once a month, once a quarter, or in line with your 90-day planning. Facebook has a ‘Download your information’ option, where you can save a copy of your data to your local hard drive and back up all of your Facebook content.
2. Use strong passwords
A strong password can make all the difference to your data. You can use a service like LastPass to generate more complex and detailed passwords and securely store them, so you don’t have to remember them. Another tip is to change your passwords regularly to offer further protection to your accounts.
3. Build your email list
In addition to your social media engagement, you need to develop a robust email list. This way, you can contact people if you can’t access your social channels.
Your email community should consist of people who have signed up for your opt ins, lead magnets, newsletter, etc. This is a good opportunity to consider if you need more opt ins, or if you should produce some high-quality content that will grow your list. Your lead magnets should help people understand the nature of your work and be highly valuable to your prospective connections. You could embed them in your blog posts or share them as part of a wider social media strategy.
4. Create a contingency plan
If your access to all of your social media channels disappeared today, what would you do?
If you’ve backed up your content and assigned admin roles, it shouldn’t keep your business down for long. But what if you have a big launch coming up? Would you navigate it using alternative platforms? How would you engage your usual audience if you’re forced to communicate through a new platform?
We often take for granted how easy it is to connect with our communities at the touch of a button – the days of phone books are long gone! Setting up a temporary profile or making your contacts aware of another account they can reach you through can be a way to maintain that connection.
It’s also a good idea to document your business processes in case of any life event that takes you away from your business. Share them with your admins, social media manager, or, if you’re a team of one, a close friend or partner, so that they can help if anything should happen.
5. Consider potential beyond your usual social channels
Where are you showing up online and where are you playing it small? Perhaps you’ve been focused on one market, and unintentionally been neglecting others. Could it be time to diversify your social media approach?
My experience got me thinking more expansively about my social media presence and how I could move forward with a new, more comprehensive social strategy. It gave me a chance to think outside of my existing plan and consider what might be possible if I expanded it.
I hope these tips have been useful and that they inspire you to take action and protect your online business.
If you want to connect with a supportive, coaching community, consider joining The Mindset Coach Academy.