Image: Road Sign with Question MarkQuite frequently organizations decide to participate in social media because “everybody’s doing it.”  The “jump-in-and-figure-it-out” mentality often leads to problems down the road.

Here is a hypothetical situation as an example.  Bob is president of a local club.  The club wants to set up a Facebook fan page.  Unsure how to do this, Bob decides to figure it out on his own.  He sets up his Facebook account, then creates a fan page.  Fast forward two years…  Bob is no longer president of the club, and has left the board.  His job transferred him to another city and he is not in contact with the current board members.  The problem?  Bob set the fan page up under his own name and he has control of the page.  Now the club can’t post or remove anything from it.  Facebook allows you to transfer who “manages” a page, but not who “owns” it.  Suppose Bob is tired of seeing the page on his Facebook account and deletes it.  Now what is the club going to do?

To avoid headaches that come with club management of social media accounts, consider doing the following:

  • Set up a generic e-mail account through a web-based e-mail system.  I recommend Google’s g-mail (it will allow you to use many of the other Google tools for the club’s activities, such as a calendar.)
  • Have one person assigned responsibility for managing the e-mail account.  This ensures that the account is checked.  Delegate a back-up for when the account manager is unavailable.  Having multiple individuals check an account leads to problems in itself: e-mails are left without response, e-mails get filed away without correct individuals learning about them, etc.
  • Use the generic e-mail account to set up all club social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Your user names don’t all have to match (although that is a good idea for the sake of brand identity.)  Using one e-mail address will make it easier to remember when logging in, and easier to retrieve lost passwords, etc.  It also makes it easy to transfer responsibility of accounts as board members change.
  • When you create a social media account for your club do not use your personal login and information.  It can be difficult or impossible to transfer this later.  Create an identity for the club: Susie Spartan, Walter Wolverine, Billy Buckeye, etc.  Beware: some social media sites do not allow blatantly mock identities (so good luck getting any of those examples through Facebook.)  This is to avoid spammers.  Be selective when choosing your identity.
  • After you set up social media accounts with the generic email, delegate responsibility for the accounts to individuals.  For example, in Facebook you can set individuals as “Administrator” of a fan page, even when they don’t “own” the page.