Never Use Personal Online Accounts for Your Business
Take a step back and think about this for a moment —
Today, the social web is evolving and integrating services with one another so fast that it’s hard to believe where we were only a few short years ago.
With how quickly technologies and our social ecosystem are evolving, many businesses have some catching up to do with respect to who actually “owns” their online accounts.
Where were we THEN . . . ?
- Facebook was originally meant for college networking —
finding that girl or guy you were crushing on or making a Friend request, with the intent of securing a date or a new pal. Today, Facebook is still used in that respect, but it has also changed in such a way that it’s become what email morphed into — a tool for your parents and grandparents to forward phony chain-letters, relay highly personal and embarrassing information about their last colonoscopy, and make ridiculous posts on public profiles/pages for the world to see (and laugh at). More importantly, though, Facebook is also used as an advertising, networking, and customer relations tool for businesses. Plus, it seamlessly integrates with other social media platforms and websites your business might be using.
- Google Accounts (Gmail accounts) were still relatively new and, for the most part, not integrated with the myriad of services that they are today. Years ago, when businesses contracted web developers, standard practice (as a point of convenience) was to let developers add your business website to their client list within their own Google Account so they could manage and deliver analytics/reports for you. That was advantageous for developers, as it solidified a desirable client retention rate for them, since all of the business websites they handled were tied to the developers' accounts. As a method of conducting business at that time, this was fairly standard practice. Then when the economy took a turn for the worse, many businesses found themselves in a difficult position — To save money and resources, they wanted to reign in control of their content and analytics and expand into the social web by themselves. The problem was that they didn't have a Google Account of their own. The only efficient solution at the time, to maintain some semblance of control, was for businesses to have their web developer — the Google Account administrator — share the business’s analytics with them, so businesses didn’t have to “start over” in order to bring their account services together.
Yesterday’s convenience is today’s burden.
Social media began to boom, and in the frenzy to get businesses integrated and quickly established online, hasty methods were used. This is now coming back to bite people because without much forethought, employees’ personal accounts were used to quickly establish businesses’ presence on social networks.
Have you ever found yourself in the position of realizing that a terminated employee is the person who has ownership of your business’s Facebook page? That uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach . . . You’re not the only one who’s been there.
Soon mobile and smart phone technologies exploded, and in a short time, Google took full control of the web with Google Analytics, Places, Drive, Maps, Google+, YouTube, and more. Now your web developer has administrative control of your analytics. Your accountant created your Google+ page with his personal Google Account and claimed your Google Place location as his own. And the designer you have on staff created your Facebook business page under her personal Facebook account, effectively making her the administrator of your business account.
I think you’re starting to see how easily fragmented your business accounts can become these days, and how important it is to establish yourself correctly from the get-go. You’d do well to create some standard account set-up practices for your business.
So, what should you do to take control of your business online?
Learn from the past.
- If you are looking to have a new website developed or already have a website but need to set up accounts for your business, the first thing you need to do is establish a separate Google Account meant for your business ONLY. This account can be used to not only give you ownership of, but also tie together, your website Analytics, Google+ Account, YouTube Account, Google Places Account, Drive Account, etc.
- If you are planning on using any social media services, register your business with them under your new business Google Account ONLY. Do not use your personal information or email address in establishing these accounts.
- Establish and claim your location on Google Places with your new Google Account. Also take into consideration Yelp, FourSquare, and other mobile location-based social media services. They are fantastic tools, and you should be claiming your business on them, as well.
What will all of this accomplish?
Here are a few obvious benefits for you:
- You now have full control of all your online business accounts.
- You can add managers to most of your accounts. Grant temporary or long-term access for your social media managers and developers so you don’t have to relinquish any control of account ownership.
- You can claim your business as your own without the fear of the claim belonging to someone else.
- No more fighting over account access — What’s yours is yours.
- FREEDOM — If you decide to move on from one developer to another, you won’t have any problems with losing data, transferring ownership, or (in many cases) having to take the time to re-establish yourself.
Have you experienced the adverse effects of having fragmented business accounts online? How has it affected you or your business? Feel free to share your own stories, tips, and caveats below in the Comments.