community management, social media policy

Preventing Social Media Chaos When Staff Turns Over

2 Comments 03 September 2013

Your social media manager just resigned, or the director of a program, or your community manager: what mechanisms are in place to ensure the integrity of your social media spaces and continued online engagement? Who holds the passwords, email addresses, and information that you need to continue engaging? Social media policies often fail to include safeguards for social media content, passwords, and the integrity of your social media channels. When staff walks out the door, so may your organizational knowledge and social media integrity.

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Social media growth often progresses “ad hoc,” expanding to new channels and trying out new tools once the organization and staff begin to feel more comfortable with using social media. The downside of ad hoc growth, however, is that it usually comes at the expense of system development and knowledge sharing. Wherever your organization is on the social media growth curve, there are a few processes you can implement today.

 1. Create a unique social media email addresses.

Social media and social network accounts are linked to an email address and identity. Create a unique address only for social media-related sites, and use that to open and edit your social media channels. (It’s not too late to switch email addresses on any existing profile.) I typically advise creating an address in the format of, and advise forwarding this address to the appropriate staff person at the organization. In cases where the social media channel must have a Google address, I suggest creating a social-only Gmail account  with the format of

2. Store all social media passwords, usernames, and information in an accessible space online.

Do you know all of the social media sites, social networks, and social media third-party apps that are used to manage your social media presence? Most organizations have not created any systematic tracking of social media profiles, websites, campaign Twitter handles, and other third-party social media apps used by staff. I highly recommend creating a central document for this information, if you have not yet done so, and storing it in an accessible online place. The document need not be extensive, just a simple spreadsheet with URL, associated email address, password, who opened the site, and notes on how it the organization uses that site. Store it in Google docs, Dropbox,, or any other cloud app where more than one person has access, as well as on your central server. Be sure to change your passwords and document access when related staff leave.

3. Share social media knowledge across the organization.

Your social media manager left, and what do you know about your social media activities? Create a few knowledge-sharing systems now, and it will not only be a life-saver when critical staffers leave, but help your organization right now.

Knowing what what knowledge is important to share may be challenging to discern, so you may want to explore a knowledge-sharing discovery process, or develop a list of the kinds of social media information that would be useful to all staff. Again, I’d suggest that any documents and knowledge systematically shared be placed in an accessible online space (your own server or in the cloud).  At a minimum, I  suggest regularly sharing this information across the organization:

  • High-level, goal-oriented social media metrics
  • High-level, goal-oriented website analytics
  • Social media campaign documents and strategy documents
  • Your organization’s online listening search phrases, and keywords
  • Your organization’s most active online fans, superfans and influencers
  • A list of all your social media channels, hashtags, and branded spaces (private and public)
  • Content and editorial calendars

While there are other tricky issues, these three strategies should prevent social media chaos in the event of critical communication staff turnover.

What systems and processes do you have in place to prevent social media chaos when staff leave?


  • Michelle

    What about ‘Make sure to have good relationships with all your employees so that when one chooses to leave your organization they take the time to train someone else and voluntarily share the information they have.’ That may work too…


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Michelle, excellent point. Thank you.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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