Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Your Social Media Platforms

Clock with face that says "Time to pay attention!"

Staying on top of your digital world is a lot of hard work and it might be tempting to ignore social media and your platforms for awhile. Maybe you just don’t have time to keep your website updated and keep putting it off until another day.

But do you know why you can’t afford to ignore your social media platforms?

Have you gone back periodically and checked your Facebook page or Twitter stream?

Or do you periodically check to see if your website is up and running?

Even if you decide you’re okay with having one or two platforms that you post to, you can’t afford to ignore social media.

Here’s why.

Between client work and writing blog articles, Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, and tweets, I try to spend time just poking around my online properties.

What I have discovered in my own world is that I can’t have confidence that all is well in my social media world 24×7.

All is Well – NOT!

Each day I take a serious look at what is coming through my Facebook news feed, twitter stream, blog comments, and the like.

I log into my WordPress dashboard and make sure my site is okay.

I also am diligent about monitoring client websites and check their sites several times per week to make sure all is well.

Because I am so diligent about my own social media platforms, I also find when something is wrong with social platforms of clients, colleagues, and friends.

Here is what I have found along the way and tips that I hope will help you:

1. A Broken WordPress Site

No surprise here. One day my WordPress site just stopped working. For whatever reason, it was broken and only showed one post. I am diligent about keeping WordPress themes, plugins, and the framework itself up-to-date. But sometimes things just break. So thankfully, I had a good backup that I could restore and I was back in business.

If you’re not diligent about backing up your website or you are unsure which backup solution to use, I highly recommend UpdraftPlus (affiliate). I use it on all my sites and it just works. You can learn more about it in our UpdraftPlus review here.

Having a broken website is one way to lose traffic, and you know how hard it is to attract and retain a faithful following.

If you are using WordPress, you know that it’s easy to break your site when you update a theme or plugin that hasn’t been well-tested. Minimize those problems by learning a few practical strategies before you update your WordPress site.

Other site issues I discovered during my routine checks include:

Or worse yet …

2. A Hacked WordPress Site

Yep, it’s bound to happen. How often do you visit your website? Unless you have a website monitoring service such as Pingdom you may be unaware that your website is down. A site that is down can be a symptom of a hacked website. Not always, but many times it’s your first indicator that something is wrong.

You should always keep your personal computers protected from spyware, malware, and virus infections.  Insist that any virtual assistants or contractors do the same. Hopefully, your web host is doing a good job of protecting the servers on which you store your sites.

Steps you should take regularly:

  • Minimize access to your web servers and only work with developers that you trust fully.
  • Make regular backups so that if your site is compromised, you can fully restore your site with minimal downtime.
  • Visit your WordPress site often and look for evidence of hacking.

Many times your website will look just fine to you. That’s why it’s important to make every effort to use tools that can help identify when your site is down, or worse yet, hacked.

I rely on Sucuri Security (affiliate) to monitor my website and hosting server daily.

Sucuri notifies me if any issues are found. Despite every effort to keep a website secure, no one tool or combination of tools is 100% foolproof.

I like the assurance of knowing that Sucuri has my back and have gladly invested in their annual subscription. They will even clean up any malware found upon request.

It’s also important to understand how your website gets hacked and what you can do about improving WordPress security.

Speaking of hacked websites, if you do visit a website that appears hacked, there is nothing wrong with notifying the site owner.

I’ve had to notify colleagues when I’ve discovered that their websites have been hacked. How can you tell? If the site redirects you to another website or clearly contains malicious links within, it’s a safe bet that site has been hacked.

You can do a free, quick malware check on Sucuri anytime to see if your website is infected.

3. A Webinar Recording Fail

Then there was the 15 minute webinar recording I uploaded to my web server. I watched it all the way through and periodically checked on it.

I wrote a blog post inviting people to view the webinar, tweeted about it, and posted a link on Facebook.

Months later during a routine check I discovered the webinar recording kept restarting after 2 minutes. Silly technology. No matter what, the webinar recording hit a glitch at 2 minutes. So I had to take the recording down.

4. Broken Links

If you have a well-established website with lots of content, chances are you have outdated or (worse yet!) dead links that once reflected accurate, valuable content. It’s important from both a usability and SEO perspective that broken links are found and corrected.

There are several tools that can help you with this daunting task. I recommend using a mix of tools because they each can yield different results.

Broken Link Checker Tools

  • Free Broken Link Checker – this free online tool crawls your website and reports which hyperlinks are broken and where you can find them. According to their website: “The free version has a 3,000 page-limit with no limit of hyperlinks within those webpages.” A commercial version of the program is available, which allows scanning of larger sites with no limits. You can also export the results to a CSV file, or schedule the broken link checker to run.
  • WordPress Broken Link Checker Plugin –  This plugin has mixed reviews but is widely used in WordPress sites and does a fairly decent job. You can have it monitor your blog and it will report any issues in the dashboard Under: Tools -> Broken Links. It is, however, resource-intensive.
  • Site Checker: Free Broken Link Tool – This tool will check a whole website or a single page. I found that it matched a lot of the W3C Link Checker results and provided some fairly technical details that you may or may not understand.
  • W3C Link Checker – W3C offers a variety of tools for web developers including CSS and HTML validation. But it also has a link checker that can provide some deeply technical information on your website. For example, this tool will report links that might be included in your robots.txt exclusion rules. So that can be helpful especially if the disallowed URL is no longer is valid. You might want to update your robots.txt file accordingly.The W3C Link Checker returned two links on this site that were not using an exact URL. The trailing slash (/) on the URL was missing, which resulted in a redirect. Depending on how many you have, redirects can cause a  performance hit on your website. This tool also validates anchor text and reports any that need to be fixed.

5. Who has Access to Your Computer and Social Media Accounts?

Being the control freak that I am, I am the only one that I permit to manage all my social media platforms. I don’t connect my accounts, and I try to post to each platform separately. One day I went to edit my Twitter profile, and I noticed a strange message that another account was trying to connect to my Facebook page?  Huh? That’s all Twitter would tell me. I couldn’t disconnect or connect to Facebook, I just kept getting that cryptic message.

Finally, one day Twitter actually gave me the Twitter account name that was trying to access my Facebook page. It was my teenager’s! He uses my PC from time to time for homework. Apparently, he tried to connect his Twitter account to his Facebook account, not realizing I was logged into my Facebook page at the time. Thankfully, Twitter kept him from connecting the accounts.  I shudder to think of all those teenage tweets feeding through to my Facebook business page!

6. Hacked Twitter Accounts

Speaking of Twitter, vicious spam links have been making the rounds for a while.  The tweet or direct message will normally say something like “Hey, did you see the nasty rumors that are being spread around about you?” Or something to that effect.

Anyway, if clicked, your Twitter account will be hijacked, hacked, and start sending similar spam links out to your followers.

Do your friends and followers a favor…if you see they’ve been hacked, let them know! I have had to alert several friends and colleagues that their Twitter accounts had been hacked.

7. Broken Scripts

Email Subscription Services

It happens. A disconnect between your web server and email service causes your sign-up form to break. You don’t want that as you need people to be able to sign up at your website! Make sure that functionality still works by routinely testing your email service to make sure everything works as expected.

Sucuri Scanning Services

As mentioned earlier in this post, we use Sucuri for daily monitoring of our website. But awhile ago we ran into a problem where the Sucuri scanner stopped working without any sort of notification. It was only discovered because I logged into the Sucuri dashboard to make sure everything was working properly.

Instead I found this error in the Sucuri dashboard: “Sucuri unable to properly scan your site.” It turns out there was a conflict between the WordFence plugin and Sucuri, which required us to whitelist Sucuri’s IP. You can learn more about that here.

8. Keep an Eye on Website Analytics

Remember to check your website analytics to see who is sending traffic your way and how that traffic is being referred. I recently found out that another business’s hacked website was directing traffic to my domain. This type of tactic can negatively impact your SEO.

Additionally, by checking the visitors log in cpanel I learned that my site was being pounded by bots and referrer spam. It’s important that you detect and stop referrer spam as soon as possible. It can greatly impact your site performance and provide a poor visitor experience.

9. Facebook Blips

Sometimes a Facebook graphic will turn into a text link. I don’t know why, but you can fix it by re-uploading the picture.

Or a scheduled post doesn’t publish as expected.

Or all your scheduled posts go out at once.

These types of glitches often occur when a Facebook update is rolled out. So do a little testing of your own when Facebook rolls out changes. The same testing should apply to any social platform updates. Don’t assume that things are working as you expect them to.

Technology fails ~ all the time!

10. Who is Talking About You?

You should have a Google alert set up to inform you anytime your company name is mentioned in cyberspace. Having a Google alert set up will help you to monitor and protect your brand, respond to any negative comments, and show that you are on top of your social media world.

Over to You

It’s your brand and your reputation on the line. You cannot afford to ignore social media, stick your head in the sand, and expect error-free social media platforms. Technology breaks, hackers hit, and all your hard work gets a black mark or worse.

I’m sure there are lots more glitches and gotchas out in cyberspace!

What surprises have you discovered by checking in on your own social media platforms? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Image Credit: Fotolia

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 4, 2013 and has been rewritten and updated for accuracy.

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