Imagine waking up one morning and finding that your Instagram account has been hacked and it’s gone. As in TOTALLY DISAPPEARED, along with all your followers.
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t rely on Instagram for whatever reason and you still have the photos on your phone, then you might think it’s not that big a deal and just an annoyance.
If you’re a blogger/Instagrammer/influencer/content creator/business owner who relies on Instagram as part of (or all of) your business or brand, then this scenario has probably sent a chill down your spine.
It’s a very real problem that can happen to anyone – and DOES happen (as I’m about to describe in detail). And if you’re that someone who relies heavily on Instagram as part of your business or profession, then there are steps you can take to prevent this happening in the first place, and even when it does, there are ways to make it not the worst thing in the world.
Ask yourself, Is my whole business and/or earning potential based around Instagram?
If the answer is YES, then you’ve put yourself in a very dangerous position. If the unthinkable were to happen (your account gets hacked and you lose ALL your followers and posts), how would you get all those followers back? How would you earn money from brand collaborations if you suddenly had zero following and no other means of contacting the people that follow you? How would you keep customers and fans updated about what’s going on with your business, what new products you have, and when you have things on special offer?
(Image credit: Ashley Cramp, with permission)
Putting all your Instagram eggs in one basket
It’s frightening how many people are putting all their trust in (and basing their entire business model around) one single social media platform. THAT THEY DON’T OWN. I’ve written before about how many bloggers are abandoning their blogs for social media because, well, they’re doing so well there. (I’m sure I’d consider it too if I had 100k+ followers and could charge thousands per Instagram post.)
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for them (assuming they’ve earned it organically of course and not bought followers and engagement…) but in reality it’s a VERY foolish thing to do.
Using just one [social media] platform – one that you don’t own and where you have absolutely no rights if they were to shut down or you lose your account – is CRAZY.
As I wrote in that post, you’re relying on a third party to reach your followers. There’s only ONE reliable way to stay connected to your readers, and that’s via a mailing list. More on that in a minute; firstly, how does someone “lose” their entire Instagram account?
Case study: How Ashley lost her whole Instagram account
Between Christmas and New Year, fashion and lifestyle blogger Ashley Cramp was, like many of us, on a break from all online activities. One day over the festive period her son told her that a strange picture of two men dancing had been posted to her Instagram and Facebook (her accounts are linked so you can post automatically from one to another). Of course she’d not posted this picture herself.
Imagine this: She then realised she couldn’t log into either account on her phone or laptop. (I’d be screaming like a banshee at this point if this had happened to me.)
However, she could log into Instagram on her Mac, so she temporarily disabled the account and contacted Instagram. Of course they took ages to get back to her, but when they did they said her account had been “compromised” as well as any accounts linked to it. She was told she needed to change all her passwords.
So she could temporarily disable all of her social accounts she went to change her passwords immediately, and then realised she could no longer get into Instagram AT ALL. To her horror, the following day her Lazy Daisy Jones account – along with 15.8k followers and all her posts – had TOTALLY DISAPPEARED.
Ashley said that Instagram were no help. They eventually got back to her and said there had been a problem with her login credentials. She thought she’d had two-factor authentication enabled, but it turns out she didn’t. Whoever hacked her account had now deleted it – and Instagram couldn’t recover it.
And that was the end of her Lazy Daisy Jones Instagram account.
What Ashley did next
I was so shocked and gutted for Ashley that I wanted to do a little something to help her as well as help those of you who might not have two-factor authentication (what the WHAT is it I hear you ask – I’ll get to that in a minute) turned on, or those of you who are contemplating doing everything on Instagram.
Firstly: Ashley. Nearly 16,000 followers are A LOT of followers to lose, and yes – she’s had to start from absolute zero. She’s gained herself 158 already (at the time of writing, which is WEIRD considering she had 15.8k before…) but I’d LOVE for you to help her out and follow her – I cannot IMAGINE how sick she must have felt when she realised the whole lot had gone. Okay, I know no one died – but Instagram can play a large part in your earning potential as a blogger, so losing Instagram = huge loss of potential earnings.
She told me she’s already lost some brand collaborations.
She was previously blogging as Lazy Daisy Jones but is going by her real name Ashley Cramp* – so do please help her out and give her a follow: expect lots of English countryside, vintage pieces and upcycling and crafting, as well as two gorgeous bundles of doggy fluff! She told me she’d thought about rebranding for a while so it’s great that she can see the silver lining, though it must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
*Ashley has now regained her old Instagram name of lazydaisyjones.
View this post on Instagram
Blank page, fresh start? I could take this anywhere… . Partly through my own stupidity and partly through no fault of my own, I lost Lazy Daisy Jones and all my 15.8k followers… . What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger etc etc. So here I am new account new year and my first post. . Where will it take me? Will you join me? . . #everysquareastory #discoverunder1k
How to avoid getting hacked on Instagram (and what you SHOULD be doing for your brand and business)
The first thing I did when Ashley told me she’d been hacked was to turn on two-factor authentication. If you haven’t already, go and do this RIGHT NOW:
- Go to the three lines in the top right corner of your Instagram profile page
- Click on Settings (right at the bottom, it’s easy to miss!)
- Scroll down to Two-Factor Authentication under Privacy and Security
- Turn Two-Factor Authentication ON
You’ll be asked for a security code (sent to your phone) every time you log in, but it’s not a pain because if you’re like me, you don’t actually log out all that often. (You can also have recovery codes in case your phone’s not available – it’ll be explained once you’re in there.)
That’s it – you’re now twice as secure as you were before.
Secondly, make sure you change your password regularly. I’ll admit to not doing this, so I’m going to take a short break from writing this post to do it now.
= short interval =
Right, mine’s done. I was sent a link to my email address to change the password… good to know you can’t just do it in the app. I also had to add the Instagram security code that was sent to my phone for it to be changed.
Ashley has warned me that a few people told her that, when Instagram does updates, the two-factor authentication can get reset. Therefore it makes sense to check this setting once in a while as well as changing your password. She thinks the reason she was hacked was that some apps (that she no longer used) still had access to her account, so that’s another thing to check and clear out.
What you SHOULD be doing for your brand and business
All of this brings me to what I mentioned right at the beginning, that there’s only ONE way to stay connected to your readers: with a mailing list. If you were setting up a new business, would you rely SOLELY on one marketing platform to reach your customers?
It’s a bit like asking a random stranger to go out in the street and sell your product on your behalf. Sure, he turns up every day and often sells to the same people because they keep going back to him and know where to find him, but what if he just vanished off the face of the earth one morning?
If he disappeared into thin air he’s basically taken all your business and customers along with him. You have NO way of knowing who any of them were, or how to get in touch with them.
However, if YOU went out into the street and asked these people for their email address every time they bought something from you, then BINGO – you’ve got a way of sending them special offers. You’ve got a way of sending them details about new products. If you move to a new selling spot, they’ll know where to find you because you’d emailed them to let them know.
So don’t put all your trust in that random stranger who sells your products to your customers.
And likewise – don’t put all your trust into Instagram because THEY hold all the information about your followers.
If you’re thinking of ditching your blog in favour of Instagram, DON’T. (Blogging will continue, I’d put money on it.)
If you’re thinking of using Instagram as the only way of advertising your business, DON’T. (Get yourself a basic website and/or mailing list.)
If you still blog but haven’t given your readers a way of following you by email, DO IT NOW. (Get that mailing list started ASAP.)
My Instagram follower numbers may have been stagnant for the past six months or so (I’ve literally only increased my overall following by about 20 in the past three months, and every time I post I lose more than I gain), but my mailing list is growing daily.
There’s a reason why I have a popup sign up form (albeit a little different from the norm) AND splash my “Want to receive free email updates?” message all over every post, and that’s because mailing lists WORK.
If Instagram goes under, or if they do something to ruin it for everyone somehow, or if (god forbid) I get hacked and lose the whole account, then I still have my mailing list and blog to rely on. I own both of those, and I’m so grateful to myself for NOT having put all my Instagram eggs into Mr Zuckerberg’s basket.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY EXPERIENCE OF HACKING – OR DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO’S SUFFERED THE SAME FATE AS ASHLEY? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!