Not having a social media exit strategy could mean crisis down the road

I was driving home from work last night when I heard a story on the news that caught my attention. The Fond du Lac Police Department’s Twitter account was hacked and was projecting profanity, spam messages and more. They also talked about how the department was working with Twitter to try to correct it. Now, while we all know it’s not uncommon for social media accounts to get hacked, I think this specific situation could have been prevented. And back in 2012 believe it or not!

The story went on to say that some of the problems that they faced in trying to correct this problem were: 1) that the person who set up the Twitter account no longer worked for the Fond du Lac Police Department and 2) the email that was used to set up the account no longer existed. The last legitimate tweet from the account appears to be in October of 2012.

Now, I don’t mean to pick on them because this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard of this problem. We’ve gotten many calls to help organizations out of social media issues they were facing. But, I think we can all learn a little from this story as well.

When the social media boom came about organizations were so busy setting up their channels and developing great content that they often forgot about one of the most important parts of a online strategy – the exit strategy. From expected or unexpected changes in personnel to losing passwords or shutting down accounts, if you don’t think about your exit strategy now – your chances of facing a crisis increase down the road.

If you don’ have an exit strategy in place, here are some points to get you thinking:

  • Have at least two (or more) people set as administrators or able to access your company’s website or social media sites at all times. (We have seen lots of great Facebook pages get lost in “Facebook world” because someone took himself or herself off as an admin before adding an additional person).
  • Change your passwords to your social media and online accounts frequently. Consider keeping one document with all passwords and access information on it. Include the most current date it was updated so everyone is on the same page.
  • If you have an expected or unexpected change in personnel that will involve an employee who has access to your company’s online presence, take the time to set up a process for changing all passwords and communicating those to the individuals who need them after their departure – and make those changes as soon as possible.
  • If you need to close an account due to the end of a campaign or due to budget cuts, don’t simply delete the account – hide it. Chances are you will want to activate or access the information at a later date. If you cannot hide it, post a message telling visitors that it will be down temporarily and when it is expected to be up and running again.
  • Have a social media policy within your company handbook that employees sign off on. This will help keep them educated on what is permitted and not permitted if they are using their social media for both personal and professional uses. Clearly define behaviors that are not acceptable.
  • Analyze what’s working and what is not with your online and social media procedures. Change or update policies and procedures as needed.

 

Written by

Karen Schlieve

With more than nine years of full-service agency PR experience, Karen Schlieve has worked with clients in a variety of industries including construction, health care, financial, education, non-profit, government, professional services and more. With a passion for a fast-paced work environment, she has successfully led numerous crisis communications projects including company embezzlements, environmental issues, labor disputes. Karen is a well rounded PR professional who excels in campaign research and planning, media relations and thinking strategically about a client's social media and online presence. Her attention to detail and determination are crucial in exceeding the goals of a PR program. Karen also has an uncanny ability to read a situation for what it is and make sound recommendations. As a graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Karen is on the board of directors for the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network. She also serves as the publicity chair of the Public Relations Society of America - Northeast Wisconsin Chapter and is involved with the Pulse Young Professionals Network marketing committee.

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