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The Importance of Owning Your Digital Real Estate

Last week I was part of a discussion where a new agency had taken over from another digital agency on a Facebook marketing project. The old agency took the client’s Facebook page hostage, kicked off all page admins and refused to hand the page over to the new agency or to the client.

What shocked me was the number of people who have had similar experiences and have said that to correct this through Facebook is a long and tedious process. Using lawyers doesn’t always work. What is the best solution?

You may also have seen in the news that the ANC has lost its bid to have the domain name of its original website returned. The South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) has ruled against the party on its dispute against Unwembi Communications. The agency has been battling with the ANC for months over the nonpayment of hosting and development fees for the party’s website and is now holding the domain until the fees are paid.

Prevention is better than cure.

Always own your digital real estate


We recommend that you always take ownership of your website domain. If you want to check the ownership of the domain use this website. It will give all the registration credentials of the person who bought and pays for your domain. This domain registrar has full control over your domain. We’ve seen it happen numerous times where the domain registrar holds the client hostage, they charge a ‘monthly maintenance’ fee on the domain as well as exorbitant additional fees. Domains generally cost around R99 per year to renew and do not attract maintenance fees, they do not need maintenance.

Web hosting

Remember that web hosting and domains are two separate properties, but they work together. Each one needs the other, but are not incorporated or merged. Simply put, your web hosting is where your website files are stored on a remote computer. The domain is simply your address. It’s the same as if someone visiting your house. They put your address into Google Maps and are directed to your house. As you can see, these work together but aren’t directly associated. You can often save money on your web hosting if you manage it yourself. This gives you control of who works on the website and control of the billing. We recommend that the businesses owner handles this themselves

Social media platforms

Asking your marketing department or agency to create your Facebook, Instagram, etc platforms is correct. Employees and agencies come and go, but the business owner doesn’t. On numerous occasions, we have had to create new platforms because the client does not know who created or owns their existing social media platforms. Having two separate Facebook accounts creates further confusion as to which Facebook or Instagram Page to follow. It looks unprofessional and you miss out on the people who were previously following the old page.


We recommend that the business owner is made admin on all pages and profiles, and ensures that all login passwords are listed in a document. Employee and client contracts should be amended to prevent hijacking of digital platforms. Add in a clause that states that after handover the employee or agency is responsible for providing you with the necessary usernames and passwords and that they work correctly.