With a property portfolio at one stage of more than 1,000 homes, Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlords must have found it difficult to keep tabs on every single property they (or the banks) owned. I find it hard enough to keep tabs on just one – the house I live in. So, almost inevitably, tucked away in an avenue here or a cul-de-sac there will have been buildings that dragged down the reputation of the neighbouring homes. Peeling paint. Broken windows. Leaking roofs.
And so it is with social media real estate. Long forgotten Facebook business pages which haven’t been updated since September. September 2014 that is. Corporate Twitter accounts with fewer Tweets than an empty cuckoo’s nest. And LinkedIn profiles that are about effective a calling card as a phone number scribbled on a soggy beer mat. All “properties” that could be damaging your reputation.
So it’s time to do a social media audit to assess the extent of your digital estate. Demolish those Facebook accounts, pages and groups that are surplus to requirements. Bulldoze those Twitter accounts that were set up in a burst of enthusiasm for every single department. In short, rationalise.
And where your rationalisation reveals gaps in your digital portfolio get building. Construct a new Instagram account. Open that YouTube channel. Make WhatsApp ‘appen.
Now if you’ll allow me to push the metaphor a little further… don’t risk getting “locked out” of your own property by allowing your “tenants” to make their own keys. Open up social media accounts centrally and keep a register of the administrator usernames and passwords – yours and anybody else you grant administrator or similar rights to – so that if somebody leaves (even you) the organisation can still get in.
If your digital estate audit does reveal a Facebook business page that you’re locked out of, perhaps because it was set up by somebody who’s now left, getting it deleted without a username and/or password can be tricky. The best thing is to report it to Facebook. Here’s a useful post on Facebook’s own help pages.
There’s a chance that your search will reveal property that looks like yours but isn’t. For example, I’ve worked as a social media trainer with local authorities who’ve discovered several spoof pages or profiles set up by disgruntled council taxpayers purporting to be the council. In these cases there’s not much you can do. Most tend to have a short lifespan and fizzle out after the initial disgruntlement (is that even a word)!? dies down. If they persist you could try contacting the owner and resolve the issue by negotiation. If that doesn’t work, and in particular if the spoof content is offensive, you could again try report the issue to the relevant social network. But don’t hold your breath. Resolving problems through the official channels can be long-winded and may still fail. Which is why managing your digital property portfolio properly in the first place is vital.
Be a good landlord.
I have to thank my trainees at Melton Borough Council for proving the inspiration for this post. You can find them on Facebook. If they’ve done their audit properly there will only be one page!
* I shot the feature image in Kampot, Cambodia while on holiday earlier this year. It’s a fine old building from the era before Pol Pot and his murderous regime. Unlike a disused Facebook page it’s former grandeur shines through the decay.