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Passing The Social Media Baton

What happens when the staff person or volunteer who’s been managing your online community leaves? Does your organization have a process in place for passing the social networking baton?

While I hadn’t thought about this before, the proverbial light bulb went on when I read a post by Maggie McGary on SocialFish about her experience with “the process of disconnecting [herself]” from the role of community manager for an association. McGary suggests that some organizations “are setting themselves up for significant problems should they ever have to fire the person who established their organization’s various social media presences because, in many cases,company pages or accounts are linked to personal accounts.”

Although many organizations have social media policies, these often focus solely on staff or volunteer conduct on the social media networks and may not cover the administrative details around account set-up and management. As McGary notes, “It’s not like you can just change the password for the account because company pages for Facebook, Linkedin and Google+ are linked to the person’s personal accounts.”

But the trouble can start long before a volunteer or staff member leaves. It can begin when a well-intentioned volunteer offers to set up a Facebook page for your organization and creates a personal instead of a business or company page. This was the case for a friend who recently offered to help out a non-profit with their social media. Even with her best of intentions, my friend soon realized that the way in which the organization’s Facebook account had been created by a former volunteer, prohibited the organization from: running ads or contests on Facebook; liking affiliate pages, setting up automatic Twitter feeds and so on.

Online Community “Un-Managing” Tips:

In her post, Community Un-Managing: Cheat Sheet for Community Managers and Tips for Companies, Maggie McGary offers some great tips and advice on procedures for terminating employees who manage company social media accounts as well as details on “extricating” and adding folks on social networks, including: Facebook; LinkedIn; Twitter; Pinterest; Google+, Rebelmouse; and private social networking platforms.

Tips for social media policies and practices

If your organization is just getting started with social networks, be sure that your accounts on Facebook, Twitter etc. are established for the organization (e.g., a “Business” page on Facebook), rather than as personal accounts. And to ensure a smooth transition for those trying to disconnect themselves from your organization’s social media (as Maggie McGary was) and to ensure a clean pass of the baton to another individual you should:

  • Ensure you have more than one account admin for each social network - so there is always a back-up
  • Update your social media guidelines or policies to include specific procedures around role transitions - e.g., removing someone’s access and adding new admins to the account.

Since social media channels may be the first place that supporters or potential members encounter your organization, you want them to have a positive first impression.  The individuals who participate in Tweeting, posting to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ on your behalf, become the face or voice for your organization. And just as you work to create consistent messaging about your organization, you also need to present a consistent profile or persona on your social media. As Ben Stuart and Andrea Berry suggest in their Idealware article - Creating A Social Media Policy  -  “a good social media policy will provide clear guidelines as to what staff should and shouldn’t do when posting and interacting with the community on a day-to-day basis, freeing them up to think more strategically.”

Image source:  Teamwork sign, courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Published Thursday, 21 February 2013 at 8:30 AM
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