The plain answer to this question is, yes. – You would think this doesn’t need to be asked, or that everyone already knows the answer to this question, but the more I work in the marketing field, the more I run into this HUGE problem.
What online accounts and listing am I referring to?
- The list goes on but varies by business industry
Why the Problem Exists
The problem is currently a MASSIVE one because business owners are unaware of the matter in the first place. Almost every new client in which our marketing company onboard has to jump through hoops to gain access to their accounts. Owners are unaware of how online profiles work because they have either had an employee create/claim their online profiles… Or in the worst-case scenario, they hired a marketing company who handled it and the marketing company actually owns the business’s online property.
Let me explain how online accounts/profiles/listings work, and why it is so confusing.
Years ago in the distant ancient internet past, (you know the early 2000’s), all you needed to access anything online was a username and password. It was cut and dry. Business owners could easily gain access to anything they needed by looking at their book of passwords.
If an employee created a new account of some sort online, they would put the username and password in said book, and if that employee was no longer with the company, the company would still have access to their account/profile/listing. The same holds true if a marketing company was hired and created any accounts/profiles/listings.
Now almost every major account/profile/listing is linked to a personal account of some sort.
Let me explain further with examples.
Google Map Listing
Your Google Map listing is a free listing that Google creates to tell people that your business exists on its map. Google will more than likely create your listing if you have been in business for any amount of time. If you have just opened up your business, you can add it to the map.
Either way, if you want to “claim” your business listing on Google you can do so, and I would recommend it, but that could be the subject of an entirely different blog post! When you claim the listing, you are allowed access to add your business information and pictures, along with many other awesome tools. Google does not give you a username and password to log into and make changes. Instead, you must attach this account to your Google (Gmail) account. What that means is you must have a Google (Gmail) account, and log into that account to access this maps listing.
This same theory holds true to Facebook. A Facebook business page does not have login credentials. It is managed by an admin through the use of a personal Facebook page.
And guess what?… Linkedin is the same way, and so is almost every online listing.
What Should I, as a Business Owner Do?
Let’s tackle this one step at a time. I want to preface what I have to say on this matter with this: THERE IS NEVER ONE SIZE FITS ALL. There is always an exception to the rule, but I will give you my advice from many years of dealing with different businesses in different industries of all shapes and sizes.
There are two different paths; action steps that you can take. However, which path you take will depend on the size of your business.
Owner/ Sole Operator
If you are still very involved in your business and do not have an assistant or management team handling things for you, and your business will never require that no matter how much you grow, you can easily make sure that your profiles are all linked to yourself. This just means you need to do a little online “house cleaning”. Look online for different directories in which your company is listed, follow the instructions and claim each listing. You will need a Google account (Gmail account) to claim your Google map listing. Done.
Business with Employees
If your business requires employees, I would recommend creating a master Google account (Gmail) for the business. Not one that anyone uses for emails. The sole purpose of this account is to be the master admin on all of your online property. You can then give login access to whomever you feel comfortable enough to manage your profiles or listings. You will then claim each and every online listing that is out there with that master email address/ account.
As far as Facebook and other Social Media, you can create a “personal” fake Facebook with that master email address/account and make that the main admin of the account. (I would also suggest you or someone on your management team also have a page role and access to the business page, but if they quit, or anything for that matter happens, your master business account still holds main access.)
What to do Next… It’s Clean-Up Time
If someone else “owns” your online property, get it from them now. Do not wait until next week, do not wait until tomorrow. DO IT NOW!
If it is a marketing company, just send an email requesting ADMIN or OWNERSHIP access to the Google (Gmail) account you created for this purpose. This will not take away their access, it will just grant you access. They should have done that in the first place…
If your secretary, assistant, team member, manager, or daughter is the sole “admin” of your online property, tell them you want admin access. Some accounts across the internet allow for multiple admins, some only allow for one, then they allow for managers, advertisers, etc. Everyone should have access that corresponds with their title. This is common sense, but all of this is relatively new, and being so, people are not setting things up as they should. Most of the time, it is because they do not realize the importance.