Marketing, PR & Advertising and Technology

What the DDoS attack means to small business websites

October 31, 2016
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Recently, websites and services like Twitter, Reddit, Spotify, Netflix and Wix were not available.

There are countless articles about the attacks targeting DYN, which is one of a few companies that power DNS – which is a critical aspect of the internet.

The Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, attack was basically a situation where hackers sent traffic from tens of millions of IP addresses to servers, overwhelming them and thus making the sites unavailable. For more technical details, we recommend you check out the coverage on Wired.com or CNBC.com.

While we could go on about cloud-based services and security, our point is more for businesses who might need a little more insight on how a situation like this on subscription-based websites can impact their digital presence and website. Businesses rely on social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, more and more for sharing their messages, news and timely promotions. Some businesses might even be paying less attention to things like their own websites and building their email marketing lists. They see social media as their main method of marketing.

Paid, owned and earned media

Businesses utilize three main types of media to market their business.

In the online space, paid channels are pay-per-click advertising, display ads, sponsored posts, etc.

Earned media is connecting with influencers and media sites and getting them to share your messages about the company, products or services. This also includes bloggers, online media outlets and traditional print coverage.

Owned channels are often neglected by companies who focus on paid and earned. Owned channels are your website, email marketing lists, client lists — your data and things under your control. Your content, posted where you control the platform it isn’t easily taken from you. Yes, websites can still go down. Yet, you still have other means of reaching your customers in a way that you control.

Social media channels are not owned channels. You don’t own Facebook or Twitter — and in the recent cyber attacks, those who only rely on Twitter to share or get information were up a creek without a paddle. As social channels continue to adjust algorithms, they are quickly becoming a paid medium for companies to reach their desired audiences.

This is why it is so important to focus your online marketing efforts around your website. Host your website yourself and stay away from subscriptions like Wix.com, Weebly or Squarespace. When you’re hosted with a subscription service, you don’t “own” it, since you rely on their software, platform, service and support for your website. Your site is also more vulnerable to outages — because one attack can impact many, many websites.

When you pay for your domain and host with a hosting provider, you have backups and options to pick up and move your site to another host if needed. And while you are on a server and an IP with other sites, it’s likely not near the size of a target as these larger services could be.

The most important is the fact your prospects and customers go online to look for information, products and services. Yes, they are on social media channels, but they search — aka google things — more often. Having information, resources and details on your website is the most important first step to your online presence. Any small business who “just has a Facebook page” is not in charge of the way their content reaches or is available to their fans or followers. You miss out on impressions, traffic and customers. Content simply passes through their news feed; it doesn’t live in any one place like a web page or blog post.

If you have a website, and you should, use social channels to bring people to your website to learn more, sign up, get the offer, etc. This is how you best utilize using social media, as one of the lines in the water. You should be using other channels too: email marketing, paid advertising, content marketing, etc. Leaving your business and your communications to one or two channels you have no control over can leave you vulnerable. 

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