The most important social media rule for every organization

If a marketing company, intern or Web developer has your website’s or social media profiles’ account information, get it from them—fast. Not owning these online properties could cause serious problems.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to help businesses decide which social media platforms to use and when to post.

But the social media rule every business should follow is this: Be the boss of your own information.

You should own administrative rights to your social media profiles, Google Analytics account, WordPress site and all other assets and data.

If you’re thinking, “Duh. People know this,” think again.

During one week I had two—one mid-size and one enterprise (yes, enterprise!)—clients who were locked out of their accounts because they didn’t own them.

Oy.

Client 1

Client 1’s problem was with Google Analytics. Client 1 had hired a marketing company to handle its marketing and metrics.

The marketing company set up the client’s Google Analytics account under the marketing company’s email and name, and then gave Client 1 administrative rights.

This sounds OK, but it can (and did) cause problems down the road.

For example, when Client 1 severed ties with the marketing company, Client 1 lost access to its analytics. When Client 1 politely asked for rights to its data, there was radio silence.

Client 1 can easily create a new Google Analytics code for its website to collect future data and run ads, but Client 1 lost access to old data and must rely on the marketing company’s reports for a baseline and historical mapping.

This, as any savvy marketer knows, is not ideal. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.

Client 2

Client 2 just went through a major brand overhaul, and its new research shows that it should be marketing to millennials.

First, enter Instagram. Second, enter major headaches.

Two years ago, Client 2 had an intern create an Instagram account for an event. That intern is now gone. The Hotmail address he or she used to create the Instagram account is gone, too.

Here’s a fun fact from the Instagram website:

Unfortunately, if you can’t access the email account you registered with and didn’t link your Instagram and Facebook accounts, we’re unable to give you access to the account.

Client 2 filed a help ticket—and we’re still waiting for a reply. We might wait forever.

Client 3

Talking about what we think is common sense reminds me of a client I had when I first launched my company, B Squared Media.

This client, Client 3, had a Web developer design and manage its site. I do this, too, as I’m sure many others do.

Well, Client 3’s developer suddenly passed away, and we were locked out of the site.

There was no back-end login, FTP access or way to update the site. Did I mention we were in the middle of a website redesign?

It’s a little awkward calling your Web developer’s widow to try to gain access to your website.

The most important social media rule

If I could instate one social media rule—one that every business, no matter its size or audience—should follow, it would be to own access to your website, content and social media profiles.

Your Web developer can set up your site and manage day-to-day changes, but you should have a document with the necessary information to access your account if, heaven forbid, he or she gets hit by a bus.

It might be smart to create a standard operating procedure in case a lockout occurs.

Better yet, be proactive and make sure that any third parties with access to your data have processes and procedures around:

  • Data storage
  • Data management (Who within the company can touch your data—especially sensitive data, like passwords?)
  • Data disposal

No matter who sets up or manages your site, blog or social media profiles, make sure you are the account holder and can access what you own.

Do you have any horror stories regarding third-party data ownership, or any tips to protect your business from getting locked out of its accounts? Please share them in the comments section.

Brooke B. Sellas is owner of B Squared Media, a blossoming blogger and a purveyor of psychographics. Give her a shout on Twitter. A version of this article originally appeared on Mark Schaefer’s blog, {grow}.

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