BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) A disgruntled employee with access could delete your entire social media effort in a few keystrokes. There aren’t any easy ways to back it up or defend against it. You can skip the messy details an jump down to the Business discussion at the bottom of the post.)
Last week the Social Media Club had a very public and very messy brouhaha. I’ll give you the time-line in a nutshell.
- The following time-line is reported by Kristie Wells. Kristy is the President of Social Media Club and Co-founder with Chris Heuer. SMC has over 600 groups local leaders worldwide in 230 cities and 38 countries. It’s a fantastic organization which is entirely volunteer run and does a great job. SMC is over 3 5 years old and growing stronger every day.
- Cara Mandhart of the Social Media Club in Virgina Beach, VA needed to step down because she was moving away. The club had 3800 Twitter followers and 800 Facebook Likes and 140 members of the Meetup Group. Cara had only moved 1 hour away and wanted to stay active in the groups, but couldn’t manage them day to day.
- Cara had found Mike Key who was willing to act as temporary group leader until a permanent head could be found. Mike wasn’t ready to commit to the responsibility permanently.
- In late June (?) Cara gave Mike Administrative Level access and passwords to the Twitter, Facebook and Meetup accounts, while retaining access herself.
- Over July and August Cara tried repeatedly to contact Mike to keep up with what was going on in the group and she received no reply. Cara communicated with the Social Media Club HQ about her problems. Cara didn’t report these issues to SMC HQ in part because she had undergone surgery.
- September Mike removed Cary, and Kristy Wells as an Admins on the group’s Facebook page and changed the Twitter account password. Effectively locking out Cary and Kristy from the Virgina Beach group.
- This was done with no notice or any communications at all from Mike to Cary and Kristy.
- Mike then changed the name of the groups to “Ignite Hampton Roads”.
- Kristy had never encountered this in the 3 years she and Chris Heuer had been running the SMC. Kristy asked Cary to send Mike an email telling him to restore their access to the accounts. Kristy followed that request with an email of her own to Mike.
- Mike responded that he had discussed the change with several members and they decided they wanted to take the group in a new direction.
- Kristy then posted a note on the group’s Facebook page stating that it was the SMC and wasn’t going to change. Mike delete the comment.
- And then moments later Mike deleted the Facebook Group entirely. The discussion history and the 800 Fans were all gone.
- Kristy lost her temper and sent a tweet to her 6300 follower stating: “So @mike_key you are an asshole. you hijack the SMC Virginia Beach page with 800 fans, you refuse to give it back & now choose to delete it.”
- Things get ugly from here. Blogs were written, and then rewritten, comments we made and then edited, accusations flew on both sides. Apparently Mike then posted comments using another name to make it appear there was more support. More blogs were written and it spiraled out of control. The details get fuzzy.
- Ultimately Mike called Kristy and apologized, but there is still much bad blood.
I understand Kristy’s anger. This week I’m opening the 3rd NJ Open Coffee meeting and I feel a strong connection to these groups that I’ve put so much time and effort into. I also think that Mike’s actions are inexcusable- deleting the group is most likely irrevocable, but certainly childish, arrogant and foolish. It’s clear Kristy should have left her emotions out of the equation and handled it better (I’m not saying I could have.) Provoking Mike to the point where he deleted the group was ultimately very counter productive.
On a personal note: I wholly support Kristy in her decision to take this matter public. Mike’s actions are inexcusable, deciding to take the group “in another direction” can and should be done but without burning your bridges along the way. He has the right to create a new group and do whatever he wants. And publicly shaming him in this way will serve as a caution to others who may think they could do the same. The threat of public humiliation is a strong motivator in ethical matters and should be used, with caution. In this case I think it’s use is correct.
The Business Lessons
When you have an outpost for your business that is placed in the hands of someone else- such as your Facebook page, LinkedIn Group or Twitter account. You need to be very, very careful of the people you trust to run it. Access to passwords and control can be taken away by an unhappy employee and your hard work and years of effort can be destroyed in seconds. This is no different than the lessons learned by many unfortunate companies when they web pages were defaced by disgruntled employees. Except that webpages are usually backed up with spare copies on office PCs that themselves backed up.
You don’t have a backup for your Facebook page, or Twitter Account. If they are gone, they may be gone forever.
Backupify offers a service that I use to backup my Twitter, Facebook Flickr and other accounts and I highly recommend it. However it doesn’t do Facebook pages. Backupify only backs up Facebook Profiles (personal). I’m not aware of a service that does backups for Facebook Pages (if you know of one let me know and I’ll post it here.) UPDATE: Backupify has informed me that they are in a testing phase (Alpha) with Facebook on a new feature which will provide this feature. I hope to have access to this soon and will report on it asap.
For the time being- until someone invents a backup service for Facebook Pages- businesses should consider them perishable resources, subject to capacious destruction and plan accordingly. I’ll write a plan for recovering your Facebook fans in the coming weeks and post it here. Send me your ideas and suggestions.
Give me 1 Good Reason on how you plan to control vital piece of your business on someone else’s service like Facebook or Twitter.
UPDATE: Following a comment posted by Kristie Wells I’ve made a few corrections to this post. You’ll find the original text has been deleted like this. New additional text has been added in a few areas. These corrections fix factual errors but in my opinion don’t significantly change the story. See Kristie’s comment below for the details.