The call came early in the day.

“We’re losing an employee, and he ran all our social media accounts. We need to get everything switched over.”

What was once a relief – having an employee who took care of all that online stuff – became an emergency very quickly.

Usernames, passwords, emails, verification phone numbers and two-step login verification are all safeguards that protect your accounts, but can make it difficult, time-consuming and stressful when trying to wrest control of those accounts.

In this case, there was no cause for alarm and all the accounts were recovered, reset, cleaned up a bit and secured after about four hours of labor, but not every case gets resolved so easily.

Small businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are particularly susceptible to having just one employee who handles many online accounts.

Possible scenarios

  • An employee leaves amicably, but in a hurry due to a personal crisis
  • You fire an employee abruptly
  • You sense an employee is disgruntled and you worry they may do something rash

 

Possible stumbling blocks to taking control

  • Unknown usernames
    Sometimes they are email addresses, other times they are just usernames. Often they vary from account to account because individual usernames may have already been taken on a platform.
  • Unknown passwords
    Besides using the same password on everything, which you should not do, the next most common pitfall is someone who changes a password but doesn’t make a note of it anywhere.
  • Unknown telephone verification numbers
    Many accounts become locked after too many unsuccessful login attempts and require telephone verification to get back in, which can be problematic if the phone is the ex-employee’s cell phone.
  • Unknown email accounts
    Sometimes social media accounts get built using a variety of email addresses.

 

Suggestions

  • Plan, plan, plan! Don’t wait for a crisis to hit.
  • Have one sheet (kept in a safe, secure area) that lists the following: social media account name, login URL, username, password, the email account used to build the account, and the phone number tied to the account.
  • Do have different passwords for each account that are secure and hard to guess. But do NOT have five different email accounts and phone numbers associated with five social media accounts. It will drive you crazy when trying to conduct a password change among all your channels quickly.
  • Proactively switch each of these accounts to emails and phone numbers that are under your DIRECT control.
  • Once a quarter, TEST this entire list to get into each account. Sometimes passwords get changed unexpectedly, and the list doesn’t get updated. You can’t let that happen. Be sure everything works.
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