Part 3: Content websites & social media
Content Websites & Social Media
Last month, we discussed the basic tools needed to stand up a business website. Here’s a quick overview of what we covered:
- Small businesses often face a dilemma between moving business online and weighing business costs.
- Wix, SquareSpace and Shopify are three user-friendly web-hosting providers that offer both free and paid service options.
This month, we’ll be focusing on websites and other online platforms – specifically social media – that can be leveraged by your business for marketing and informational purposes. Now that you have the basics, it’s time to start thinking about the goals you want your business website to achieve.
Your business goals will ultimately determine if a content-based website is right for you. Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series if you believe your business would benefit more from an eCommerce website.
Weighing the Benefits & Risks
Content-based websites can be effective for businesses in:
- Increasing brand awareness and engagement
- Providing information about your business
- Expanding customer reach and better understanding your customer base
Content websites are often used for informational and marketing purposes. In fact, 23 percent of surveyed small businesses prioritized high-quality website content in 2017.
Many businesses also utilize social media platforms to expand their business web presence. However, social media platforms can present limitations when it comes to creating and customizing your business page, as well as leave your business open to the security risks that come with social media platforms.
Google & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Google continues to update its search algorithms, which ultimately changes the way websites are found by Google. Consequently, web and marketing teams are now focusing on utilizing quality content on their websites to remain relevant in search engine results. Unique keywords, compelling headlines and other content-related elements are strategically integrated into web pages so that they appear in search engine results. This concept is often referred to as “search engine optimization (SEO).”
Social Media for Business
Over half of small businesses have an in-house team that manages their website needs. However, these teams often do not have the proper training to maintain both an effective and secure business website.
As such, businesses have turned to user-friendly social media platforms as stand-ins for traditional websites. In fact, 31 percent of small businesses without websites used social media platforms in 2017.
And with most U.S. Americans using social media websites regularly, it makes sense for businesses to follow suit.
However, sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are not heavily regulated and can present limitations when it comes to customizing your site, collecting user data and tracking analytics. Each social media platform utilizes a different algorithm, and they can change frequently.
Determine Your Website Goals
There are infinite ways that content-based websites can be used to benefit your business. But even without collecting financial data, your websites can still be targeted by cybercriminals for other types of sensitive information.
This guide is meant to help you better understand how content-based websites are used by businesses so that you can choose one that fits your unique needs. Let’s explore three ways businesses utilize content-based websites, the potential benefits and risks.
Brand awareness is one of the main reasons businesses use content-based websites. In short, your brand is who you are as a business. Increasing brand awareness is making your brand known to as many people as possible. Contact pages, mission statements, core values, social sharing buttons are ways to optimize your brand awareness websites.
Benefits: provides opportunities to increase brand reach and engage with website visitors.
Risks to consider: brand hijacking/phishing, spam contact requests
Brand Hijacking/Phishing: Fraudsters can use your brand to impersonate you in phishing scams targeted at your customers.
Spam Contact Requests: Cybercriminals can use bots to skew your marketing and business analytics, impersonate legitimate contact requests or spread spam messages.
Lead acquisition takes brand awareness to the next level. A common business goal is to acquire new leads so that they can be potentially turned into new customers. Content-based websites created for lead acquisition often include forms, surveys and other ways that visitors can provide more information about themselves.
Benefits: provides opportunities to increase customer reach and optimize lead generation (from paper to digital).
Risks to Consider: cybercrime test environment, data breaches
Cybercrime Test Environment: Fraudsters may sometimes “test” the strength of your website security first before deploying more serious cyberattacks.
Data Breaches: Fraudsters can compromise your website for the personal information collected by forms and submission pages.
Content Creation & Engagement
Finally, some businesses may offer content as a service or a product via online resources and informational content focused specifically on increasing customer engagement. Sites like these may have blog articles, forums, comments sections and other opportunities where visitors can share their thoughts or engage in conversations with the business and others.
Benefits: provides opportunity to increase user engagement on your website by allowing visitors to share personal experiences, opinions and to communicate directly with the company or other relevant parties (i.e. customer service teams, other customers, etc.).
Risks to Consider: spam bots, impersonators
Spam Bots: Bots can be used by cybercriminals to share phishing links and other scam messages – especially if visitors can remain anonymous.
Impersonation: Fraudsters may try to intercept communications on your site to target visitors in phishing scams or spoofed websites for personal information.
Next Month: eCommerce Websites
Do you think that an eCommerce website may be more effective for you? Stay tuned for Part 4 where we’ll discuss the benefits of business eCommerce websites, as well as the risks that come with collecting financial data.
In the meantime, use the tips below to better secure your content-based websites and social media pages:
- Verify your visitors: Verifying your visitors is key in picking out the bad actors, bots and other mechanisms used to target or cause harm to your site. Implement captcha codes on forms and submission pages to help slow down impersonators.
- Monitor comment threads and forums: Fraudsters may attach harmful links and files to comment threads and forum posts. Review posts before publishing them on your site to avoid spreading phishing links and spam messages.
- Make visitors aware of your brand vs. impersonators: Clearly explain what visitors should expect from your business when it comes to communications and site experience. Consider allowing visitors to report if they find instances where your brand has been hijacked.
- Know what you post on social media: Fraudsters are targeting social media platforms for their massive pools of personal data. Avoid saving too much information to your social media accounts such as credit cards, passwords and other sensitive data.
Continue following Fighting Identity Crimes to get the latest breach and scam updates, ID protection news & tips from our industry experts.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.