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Is Your Business’s Social Media Really Yours? Are You Sure?

Is Your Business’s Social Media Really Yours? Are You Sure?

by Jessica Jones

Last week we discussed abandoned social media and the bad impression an unused Facebook page can give your customers. If you take the advice and suggestions in that post to heart, you shouldn’t ever have to worry about potential customers coming across a dusty and unloved Facebook page with your logo on it.

My former employee stole my Facebook page? KHHAAAAAAANNN!!!!!
My former employee stole my Facebook page? KHHAAAAAAANNN!!!!!

Shouldn’t. There is, however, another way that a Facebook page can become abandoned, other than just simple neglect: you could lose access to it.

A Cautionary Tale

How could this happen? Let me tell you a story. A business owner has an employee who is enthusiastic about social media, and decides to work on the business’s online presence. The business owner is pleased and encourages these efforts. The employee creates a Facebook page for the business, posts to it regularly, and gains the page a substantial amount of likes.

All is well and good, until the employee leaves the company. It is at this point that the business owner realizes that he doesn’t have login information for the business page that the employee created. Perhaps the employee left under less than ideal circumstances, but for whatever reason she isn’t willing to hand over access to the page. So now the business’s Facebook page, once thriving, is inaccessible and abandoned, and there is no way to salvage the hundreds of likes it gathered.

“There must be some way to retrieve a page that’s been lost in that manner,” you might be thinking. That’s pretty much the same thing that the business owner in my (yes, true) story said to me. It was a page for his business, with his logo on it – he figured there must be a way to get it back. You would think so, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. As you can see in this Facebook help thread, many business owners are stuck in similar situations with no options and no assistance from Facebook support. The only real option seems to be to take legal action against the person withholding access to the page, and most people don’t relish the thought of having to hire a lawyer to settle what amounts to a personal dispute.

So now that page is lost to him – but losing all of the accumulated likes and activity isn’t all of it. There’s no way to delete that page without access to it, so it’s still out there. New customers may be finding it through Google and clicking like on a Facebook page that isn’t his business’s real, active page, thus missing out on new posts and information. Or they may be finding it and simply moving on once they see that it’s abandoned, not realizing that the business has a new page that is being maintained.

Your Business, Your Social Media. Keep It That Way.

How can you keep this from happening to you? The short answer: stay informed. Even if social media isn’t your forte and you hand responsibility for it over to an employee, recognize that it is your responsibility as a business owner to monitor your online presence and to keep track of valuable business assets, like a Facebook page that has gained traction and is tied to your brand. Yes, this may require you to have a little knowledge of how social media works. If you’re determined to stay unaware because social media isn’t your thing, then I hope you have complete trust in whoever is managing it for you, because if you don’t, you could end up in a sticky situation. Fortunately the employee in my cautionary tale didn’t seem interested in using her access to the page to disparage the business in question, but she could have, and it would’ve reached hundreds of customers – and legal action would be the only way to put a stop to it.

As with the details of your domain registration, you stay uninformed at your own risk. A little bit of knowledge and pro-activeness could save you a lot of frustration later on.

For example, Facebook business pages need to be attached to at least one personal profile – each business page needs at least one Administrator, someone with their own Facebook account. More than one person can be given access to the page, however, and there are different levels of permissions that can be assigned. If you own the business, in most cases, there should only be one person given Administrator access, and that person should be you. If you have a business partner that you trust absolutely, you may want to make them an Administrator as well, but this isn’t a level of control that you want many people to have. Even if you are never the one to actually post to the page, retaining Administrator access means that you can regain control of that page – and take control away from someone else – at any time.

An employee given the task of managing the page can be added as an Editor – that person will have access to post, reply, and, in general, manage the page and its activity. That person would not, however, be able to delete the page, or take access away from the Administrator. If that employee were to leave, you could easily revoke their access. You would not have to have any more of an active role in the page’s activity than you wanted to, but you would retain ownership of it.

It’s Worth A Bit of Time and Research.

Of course, you may have employees managing social media other than just Facebook, and each one has its own rules about ownership. In some cases you can prevent problems by making certain that the account is registered under your email address so that you would be notified if someone were to attempt to change the password.

Whatever tools are being used to promote your business, be aware of them. Keep track of how to access them. Delegate the management, sure, but retain ownership. If you gave an employee use of a company vehicle, would you also put the title in their name? Treat your social media like it matters, because it does. Active social media accounts are valuable business assets, and as a business owner it’s your responsibility to keep up with your assets. Don’t allow your online presence to become scattered because social media isn’t your strong suit. Don’t be my next cautionary tale.