We only know what we know based on our experiences. Unfortunately, none of us have a droid (yet, fingers crossed!) to warn us of impending danger or when the dark side of the force is going to emerge. This article on Search Engine Land paints the starkest picture of the need for a droid to warn us about the dark forces in digital marketing.
This is by far the most egregious case of an SEO or anyone in the SEM world hijacking a company for their own gain that I’ve ever heard of, but it’s all too common on a smaller scale. Sometimes it’s the SEM agency being unscrupulous at worst, or being difficult to deal with when cancelling services at best. And to be honest, most of the time we, the business owner, CMO, CEO, of our respective organizations bear some of the responsibility. By failing to have a master list of login credentials for our online properties at all times, we open ourselves up to stressful situations that need not exist. In the military they teach you that if you fail to lock your footlocker and items get stolen, it’s your fault the theft took place. An extreme point for sure but one that deserves consideration. Take responsibility for what belongs to you. Don’t blindly trust service providers or employees with important online credentials for hosting, email, domain, website, social properties, analytics tracking platforms, etc.; It’s a long list and can be very cumbersome to accumulate and keep track of, agreed. But the alternative is to misplace or even have your access points hijacked. The latter being the worst case. Most often lack of access to our own online properties isn’t going to result in much more than a severe headache for you and your IT department, if in fact you have one. However, it could also cause issues with your brand management as well if access is lost or misplaced for a company Twitter account, Facebook page, Google+ etc.;
Just the other day I was approached by a colleague on LinkedIn for assistance in how they could retrieve access to their YouTube channel and Google+ page. Luckily for them it was only a headache and not an epic fail resulting in having to start over to regain control of their company channel and page. Or in an example DMA encountered recently whereby upon requesting “Admin” access to Google analytics for a business engaging in a Digital Partnership with us, I was told the business did not have this access and I would have to acquire it from the agency they were leaving. This agency proceeded to provide me with “user” access only. Yes, it allowed me to see the data but that access didn’t allow me to see or remove all those with current access. Turns out, the agency didn’t have “admin” access. But an ex-employee did. Awesome. This previous employee wasn’t forthcoming with providing the level of access needed and DMA was forced to consider removing the previous analytics code and replacing it with a new one just so we and the company could have the proper access to the account. The “admin” access was finally provided at the last minute and no reason was given for the delay or how they acquired it. Fair enough. Thanks for providing finally. Upon investigation I realized this Google analytics account had over 6 people with access and 4 of which were “Admin” level, with 2 of those tied to the ex-employee via personal Gmail’s!! Seriously!? This in addition to the agency Gmail access that was originally provided!
And yet another example is even more personal. After accepting assistance in setting up a platform for DMA of Kansas City, I was surprised to find another alternate Gmail set up within the admin section of the platform that had no ties to me or DMA whatsoever. Upon finding this entry point, I of course removed it but if left unnoticed, this individual could have effectively locked me out of my own platform and held it and my business hostage for reasons unknown.
We only know what we know. Based on my many years of experience in digital marketing, I knew to check the admin section immediately upon completion of the task. If for no other reason, just for my own piece of mind. Glad I did.
It can happen to anyone. The work day takes over and in the middle of the daily routine something like access points seems trivial. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not trivial at all but as important as who has the keys to your house, car or business. I could argue that access points are even more important. Call a locksmith, new keys can be made. But in the WWW, often referred to by agency insiders as the Wild Wild West, no such locksmith exists. You’re on your own.
For example, did you know there are 4 levels of access to Google analytics? Which one do you have? Did you know that depending on how your site and email are set up, access to both are most likely different? Or in regard to your website, there’s hosting access, ftp access, WordPress access (or site specific platform access), email, and domain. That’s just for your website. How about your Google+ page, Twitter account, Facebook company page, AdWords? A loss of any one of those access points can be devastating to a company’s online marketing, brand, and or reputation by wreaking havoc on your ability to market the site or even make much needed changes.
The vast majority of anyone I’ve dealt with within the digital advertising space is completely above board and just trying to do the best job possible. However, I’ve met just enough “chuckleheads” and had just enough experiences recently that I thought this post was warranted. I take my mission of being a Digital Marketing Advocate seriously. The digital marketing industry is a wonderful place filled with amazing and passionate people. It pains me when our industry takes a hit due to bad press and a few miscreants. But, in all fairness to my colleagues, the client does need to take a level of responsibility and control their access points.
Lock your footlocker people. And if you need an Advocate to look out for you, give me a call.
A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance. – Hunter S. Thompson