What businesses really need to know about their digital assets


Are your digital assets secure?

Rarely a week goes by, where I don’t encounter a situation with a small business wishing to upgrade their website with a different developer to the one that carried out the initial work.

It is not uncommon, for businesses to get a very affordable website with a shoestring budget in the early stages of trading with a view to upgrading it further down the line. There are many companies and agencies, who offer ‘all inclusive’ pricing that includes the domain name and hosting for the website, and some also offering ‘Free social media set-up’ as part of the deal.

This can seem really quite appealing; for someone to take the headache out of having to register domains, create pages and learn the differentiation’s between hosting packages. But beware – this could come back to bite you in the ass a year or two down the line!

Who actually owns those digital assets?

You would be right to assume that you do, as you own the business to whom it relates. But how many of you actually have a contract in place to that effect? I suspect not many.

Most reputable agencies and freelancers would not hesitate in ensuring your digital assets were returned to you whenever an agreement was terminated, but all too often I have seen disputes over domain and social page ownership, that have resulted in the business simply having to start all over again from scratch. This is really quite heartbreaking when a website url has built up Domain Authority with Google over time, and are now back to square one.

I have also seen cases where an agency has been paid to set-up and manage a Facebook page, and when the contract has been terminated, the agency have refused to transfer ownership of that page to the business. Sometimes with established audiences and thousands of page likes exposed to risk.

Although Facebook can initiate an Ownership Dispute – this is something of a hassle, requiring legally Notarised Authorisation from a solicitor, proof of ID and a great many other fiddly pieces of information.

How can you protect your digital assets?

Although it may seem far simpler to let a third-party register your assets on your behalf, it is strongly advisable to always do this yourself and then permit access to anyone who needs this to carry out their work.

  • Domain Names – these usually cost less than a tenner per year. They are super easy to register using sites such as 123 Reg or 34SP
  • Hosting – although this is less of a risk, as you can buy hosting elsewhere if you were denied access, I have seen instances where a client has disputed an invoice from a web agency and the agency have simply pulled their hosting and taken their site offline. Which isn’t funny if you’re an E-commerce business! If your website is a vital tool of your trade, I would recommend retaining control of this yourself with a reputable hosting provider such as 34SP.
  • Facebook Pages – you should always set these up yourselves, and if you do have a third-party do this for you, ensure that you have a contract in place that clearly and irrefutably defines ownership of that page. The days of giving agencies login information for your personal Facebook account in order for them to access your page are long gone – if a social media person or agency asks for login information, or says they need you to add them as a friend to gain access, run a mile! They have no idea what they are doing!
  • Twitter and other social pages – be careful who you give your passwords to and use your common sense. It is uncommon but not impossible for a dispute to arise, and for that person to change your passwords and lock you out of your own profile!
  • Google Ad Accounts – for the less tech savvy amongst us, it is natural to allow an agency to deal with this for you. If you go down this road, be clear at the start, in writing, who owns that Ad Account if the contract is terminated.

Don’t under estimate the value of your digital assets – they are a valuable part of your business. They are often the face of your business, your shop window and sometimes they’re irreplaceable, so take good care of them!


Nikki Hesford

About Nikki Hesford

Nikki Hesford is an award-winning entrepreneur having appeared on Dragons Den in 2010 before securing £250,000 of angel investment to scale up her fast-fashion brand. Exiting the company in 2015 for a slower pace of life with her young family, Nikki now works with small and start-up businesses to create attention-grabbing Marketing, Social and PR strategies from small budgets.