[Images in this post were taken at Juice Crafters in Silver Lake, check em out here.]
What did you do this past Saturday?
It was actually Labor Day weekend and chances are you were celebrating the extra day off from work. What did I do? Damage control.
On Saturday my Instagram account was hacked and it was such a grand-old time. While there was a slight degree of panic running through my veins, it was a bit of relief to know it wasn’t only happening to me. As a matter of fact, according to Inc. Magazine, close to 6 million Instagram users were in the same position as I was. During my struggle to get hold of my account along with a percentage of Instagram’s active users, I had to rewind to see how I even got to this point.
I understand that hackers have ways to thieving into systems, but I could have sworn I did everything to protect my account from being compromised. I take pride in having an extremely difficult password that I don’t always forget. Wait, what was it again? I’m one of those annoying people who will create a password with every suggested character possible: a few capital letters, a couple numbers, and a bunch of symbols. Sure it takes me a while to log in, but the hope is that I will be the only person able to do so. On top of my difficult password, I have two-factor authentication activated. If I’m being honest, I only did it to get the annoying prompt off of my screen, but later I felt like it was the safe thing to do.
Too bad a strong password and whatever authentication is didn’t save me from getting hacked.
I didn’t notice my account was out of my hands until I was deep in the takeover. As it was happening I found that I wasn’t able to like photos so I logged out and then back in with the hope that would be the fix. No luck. I stepped away from my phone for a few minutes and tried again, nada. It was only after three hours, that I was finally able to get back into my account. By that time, 191 photos and 8 saved draft photos were deleted. So that’s what it looks like to be hacked. While I was incredibly frustrated at the idea that my photos and videos were gone, I didn’t freak out, cry, or enter a state of distress. Since I’ve heard of people getting hacked on Instagram and losing their hard work in the past, I already set out to secure my work. To do so, I’ve done three specific things to make sure that if I ever get hacked I won’t lose my shit—literally and figuratively.
Whether it’s photos, videos, promo graphics, or captions, it’s creative content and it takes time to produce it all. While visiting a restaurant to review the food I can take anywhere from 50 to 300 photos and a few videos. Speaking at a conference can lend me a few graphics to promote the event. Sure I post that content to my site and social media pages, but I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to simply display them and walk away. Instead, my photos are in multiple places outside of social media. Photos, videos, graphics, captions, and blog posts can be found on my phone, laptop, Later, in Dropbox, and an external hard drive. I don’t delete final edited photos or blog posts even after they’re posted because I never know if a social site will go down or if I will need them again in the future. So a photo I took of my very first restaurant visit, photos from a restaurant I visited this week, and all those in between are saved in multiple places.
Want to go be even more secure? Get a second external hard drive. Store all your content on it and put it in a safety deposit box at your bank or post office and update it regularly. That way whether Instagram falls victim to hackers or your home is damaged in an earthquake your stuff will be safe and available when you need it.
I know a ton of influencers (regardless of the industry) who only have their content on Instagram. I can understand their initial logic in doing that because they say, “Instagram is my business” but looking to the long-term to do that alone is a big mistake! In some instances, there are people who discard the original photo once it’s posted in order to save space. Then when they need it, they take screen shots of the Instagram post.
Let’s be blunt: that’s insane, period the end.
People who use Instagram as an avenue of their business or as a serious hobby should never use one social media platform as the source for all of their creative content. You already work so hard to create amazing photos, captivating videos, and intriguing captions so to only put it in one place that can be compromised at any time is not a good idea. Instead, secure your content on multiple social media sites. Cross post the things you share on Instagram to Facebook. Even if your following isn’t as strong on a second platform do it anyway. Take the delicious brunch spread with the funny “Case of the Mondays” caption that you have on Instagram and put it on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever page you’re on. That way, should one go down you have it somewhere else.
Want to protect yourself even more from the possibility of losing all your hard work? Get a website. It can be a simple Squarespace site or something fully fleshed out like WordPress.org, but whichever you choose get one. If you’re seriously working as an influencer in regards to building content, working with brands, and positioning yourself as an expert it’s essential to have one. Not just because of the benefits of SEO, but because if a platform goes down you have your work backed up somewhere else. On top of that, a lot of brands use posted images for audit purposes (see image, right). If you lose your images on Instagram and a restaurant didn’t screen shot your work then they have no proof of where their budget for influencer marketing goes. I will say to restaurants and PR reps it is your responsibility to screen shot posted media for your own records. However, in the instance that your paid content disappears on Instagram the way mine did, then you can always redirect them to your website where the same content (and possibly more) is hosted. I love having everything housed on my website because it can live there forever. Social media pages have a short life expectancy and will eventually die out or get replaced by something else. Anyone remember Livejournal? Myspace? Yeah, where are they now. On the other hand, your website that backs itself up can stand for as long as you continue to pay for it.
I can say from first-hand experience that getting your Instagram account hacked is no fun whatsoever. I imagine getting any account hacked would carry the same frustrating sentiment, but particularly those that you run as a business. In order to keep your business going should the worst case scenario arise, back up your content. I know that it’s extra work, it can take a long time, it can cost money, and it can even come with a learning curve but it’s worth it. I saw plenty of people in tears at the thought of losing all their hard work via Instagram this past week and it was heartbreaking. While I was sad to see some of my stuff gone, I wasn’t nearly as distraught because everything was backed up. Saving your work to hard drives, cross posting, and even creating a website is time consuming but in the instance that you get hacked I promise you won’t lose your shit.