5 Reasons to Treat your Digital Property as Real Property
Never underestimate the very real role that digital property pays in managing your brand image, furthering your objectives and goals, and managing your business risks. Just because digital property doesn’t exist in the way that computers, vehicles or other tangible assets do, doesn’t in any way lessen its value and importance.
Digital property is undervalued for many reasons:
– These days things move so fast that no-one has really had time to think about it. But we need to be minutely aware of our online identity and activity and think about how we can protect and manage our company and brand in a cyberspace environment.
– Many business owners today still do not fully understand digital technology issues! There is a huge generational divide between those who grew up in the digital age and those born in earlier times who perhaps don’t realize exactly what they don’t know. This is one reason why some businesses have still not made resources available to maintain and protect their digital assets or effectively manage digital property risks.
– Digital property is not instantly visible – you have to seek it out and know where to look to know it is there and what it is doing. If you don’t pay digital property the requisite attention it can easily slip under the radar. This is ironic when you think about the far greater reach of digital property in terms of the potential billions of people who could access it, compared with any kind of physical-based equivalent!
Once we recognize that digital property is very ‘real’, then it becomes clear that we need to commit to looking after it in an effective and secure way.
At a minimum this means:
Owning the domain name of your website and social media accounts.
Be warned – if you don’t own your own domain name you could find yourself in the future having to rebrand your entire company – which effectively means building your image from zero.
Organizations that do not hold legal ownership to their domain name can find at some later date that it has been sold to a rival company and overnight you could find all traffic in your name being re-routed to their site. Make sure that you have legal title and at the same time, if possible, buy up the rights to other similar names or alternatively-spelled names so that any misspelled traffic will automatically be routed to you. In other words, when you buy mycompany.com. try to get hold of mycompany.net, mycompany.org and micompanee.com too!
It’s also a good idea to ‘grab’ social media titles on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube too. Even if you don’t plan to use them right away, it is good to have them reserved for when the moment arises and you want to branch out on to other marketing platforms.
Limit business-related emails to the domain address of your organization
Insist that your employees conduct all company business under the official email address and NEVER via their personal email accounts. This is particularly important if the emails contain any sort of private or confidential information.
Think about it – you would never permit employees to store official company documents in their own homes, so why should business-related digital data be stored or accessible outside your domain address?
You need to be able to retrieve and manage all company related emails at any moment and this will not be possible if they are stored away from your site.
For the security and confidentiality of all your email correspondence, and to avoid confusion among your customers, it is important to restrict it to your own domain address.
Realize that cybersecurity (or lack of it) is a serious concern
We hear stories on a daily basis about the latest cyber-attack and loss of significant confidential information that puts online customers at financial and other risks.
To prevent this, make sure to use STRONG passwords and have a different, unique password for every account. This is all the more important where financial and confidential accounts are concerned.
To avoid risks from malware, spam, and non-authorized site access, avoid including individual email addresses on your site and instead use a generic address such as email@… or info@… Safest of all is to filter emails through an on-line form that includes a feature such as Captcha so that you can be sure you are engaging with real people and not some kind of cyber bot.
Always deactivate any accounts when an employee leaves or you stop doing business with a company or individual who previously had access to your site. The aim is to always have control over who has access and to limit this to the smallest possible number of people.
Make sure your employees are aware of cyber-security and your reasons for maintaining a tight control over your digital property. Ignorance cannot justify losing valuable or confidential information that your clients have entrusted with you. It is in the best interests of both you and your clients to take cyber security very seriously.
Ensure your online presence always looks its best and all technical elements (links, videos, calls to action, etc) work effectively
Your website and social media timelines represent who you are and what you do so they should always look and work their best and portray a positive image. This means keeping your site looking fresh and up to date, including well-written information and relevant, photos and images, dividing your pages logically and treating each as a stand-alone unit with its own calls to action, keeping on top of links to be sure they work, removing all errors as soon as they are brought to your attention, updating your blog regularly, and checking your website often to make sure that it truly represents the business you believe you have.
Keeping your website in peak condition requires time and resources. If you are not prepared to invest these then you should question whether a website is for you and your business.
The same can be said for social media pages – they need to be designed and maintained bearing in mind the parameters of each social media platform. You cannot just post en-masse across all the different platforms and expect it to be well received. Social media requires committed engagement with your followers so that you can set up the conversations and dialogues that make these platforms such excellent marketing tools – there really is little point in doing social media unless you are willing to engage in this way.
The same can be said for profiles – it really is best to provide all the information requested otherwise your efforts and engagement look mediocre and half-hearted.
And if your business should close down then be sure to delete all online information so that you don’t maintain a shadowy out of date cyber presence that no longer reflects any kind of organization on the ground.
Allocate resources and time for maintaining your digital property and to allow digital procedures and policies to be implemented properly.
As mentioned above, maintaining your online presence costs time and money if it is to be done effectively.
Someone (preferably a fully-trained, competent and qualified staff member) needs to be continually updating your website and removing obsolete content, engaging on social media and responding to comments, opinions and queries that your users send, updating your blog and be keeping an eye on higher ranking competitor sites to see what they are doing and what is working for them…
You need a system to track and monitor online content and to plan for future campaigns well in advance.
This all involves allocating resources and defining responsibilities. If you don’t have the time, money, or staff available then you need to seriously question whether you should engage on line. Much better to have a small, tight, well-run online presence than be engaged across multiple platforms in a slip-shod way.
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