Tuesday, 25 October 2016

What to do if your Facebook page is hacked

People frequently contact me when they find out their Facebook profile is sending out updates that they haven't written. An example of this where people unknowingly tag their friends into adverts for fake sunglasses.

This usually happens when you've allowed an app access to your Facebook profile without realising it. Many quizzes and interactive pages ask you to "log in with Facebook". It's worth taking the time to see what permissions the app is asking for. Nearly all will want to know who your friends are and where you live. They'll take this directly from the information you've provided on your profile. In order to post the results, from quizzes and similar content, the app will need to be able to publish stuff onto your wall - which means it can write things on your behalf. A lot of the time this isn't a problem, most apps you use are "only" after your data so they can sell it. It's when the odd rogue app starts posting advertising onto your wall that problems arise.

So if your page is suddenly trying to sell viagra or acai berries to your friends, what do you do?

The first, and most important thing to do is to change your password! Please don't recycle passwords that you use elsewhere. A shiny, new password is what is required. Try and include a number or some non letter characters to make it more secure. Oh, and just putting a number 1 on the end of your password (or an exclamation mark) is too easy to guess - get a bit more creative.

The second thing to do is to check what applications have access to your Facebook account. If you're a keen quiz taker you may be shocked at who can see all your information!

The second, and far less frequent, issue I see with Facebook pages is when they are "cloned". This means that someone has copied your profile picture and information onto a new account and then they start sending friend requests out to loads of other people - often including your own Facebook friends. These cloned accounts are most often used in "like farming", but they can occasionally be used maliciously. By pretending to be you, the person in control of the cloned account can make it seem as if you are posting offensive and upsetting content. This can be particularly problematic if they do things like using the cloned account to leave offensive comments on your employer's Facebook page....

What can you do if you find someone has cloned your account?

You need to report the rogue account to Facebook. This can be a long and drawn out process. You will often need to provide scanned copies of documents to prove your identity.  Perseverance is key here!

In conclusion:

  • Be careful where you click. 
  • Change your password regularly. 
  • Check what apps have access to your account.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Seven years in business

I passed another milestone recently - 7 years in business with Ariadne's Thread!

Everyone says that running your own business is a rollercoaster ride. I can only agree. There have been times when I've been ready to throw in the towel and crawl back into employment. (Easier said than done at my age!) At other times there's the heady combination of new contracts and great clients.

The flexibility and freedom I get from being self employed is something I would never want to lose. I frequently work long hours so that  I can fulfill a contract - or just because I'm enjoying the work. The key point here is that it's my choice when and where I work, which is what makes all the difference.

A few people have asked me what I've learned since my start-up days so here are my top 3 tips:

1. Be wary of working for free.
Many people will ask you to give your expertise for free. In return they'll offer "exposure" or that their event will help you "to establish your credibility". Weigh up what is being asked of you very carefully. I still talk on local radio and contribute quotes to newspapers for free because it really helps with my PR and search results online. The occasional talk at a networking group is often ok as well. I soon learned not to give away my core business (social media training, writing and marketing) for free. You'll soon learn the people that always want something for nothing and start to avoid doing business with them!

2. Watch your cashflow
It's said that cashflow problems kill more businesses than anything else. Even though  I don't need a premises or stock to run my business, I've not been immune to the effects of stifled cashflow. It really only takes one key client to default on their payments, or a contract to end before you planned for your finances to take a major hit. This is particularly true in the first couple of years. Keep an eye on your accounts, update them regularly and chase any late payments promptly. You can't always avoid a cashflow crisis but you can often see it coming and plan to survive.

3. Don't be afraid to say "no"
You will not suit every client and they will not always suit you. Sometimes you are better off saying "no" and moving on to people that actually value what you do. It's particularly difficult to do in the first few years as the aforementioned cashflow can be a problem. However, as soon as you can, be selective about who you work for and who you team up with. In the long run, it'll give you a more sustainable and productive business.

Here's to the next 7 years...!