If there's one thing I've noticed in social media and more specifically in business to business sales, it's that employees of a company may create a Facebook Fan Page, but the president is not aware of it! In the last 6 months alone, I’ve noticed about 4 cases in my city (Vancouver, BC.)

Problem
From a public relations and branding perspective, this is a dangerous practice. Having an unattended blog is bad enough, but to create a Fan Page then leave it alone? When a current or potential customer sees an empty Fan Page, they get a bad taste in their mouth. If you can access your mysteriously created Fan Page, you’ll need to put together a strategy after the fact, which is not the ideal position from a marketing standpoint. It’s better if you can control the decision on what channels to engage.

over the shoulder photo of lady on laptop for rogue social media marketing: credit... http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomaspix/2590068661/

How are you going to regain the reins? You might have the option of deleting it, but unfortunately a rogue employee created it, so you are left to clean up the mess. Is the employee still around? Was it a front desk intern who went back to University for their final semester? Now that the Fan Page has been created, you’re locked into just “going for it”. Except, can you gain access?

Most beginner administrators will not create a secondary admin account simply because they aren’t aware they can do that. I don’t want to come off as an alarmist, because most companies have a handle on this issue, but I wanted to write a preventative blog post for those organizations that don’t have a handle on their Fan Pages. So how do you find out of a Fan Page is floating around out there under your company name?


Identify
As the CEO, Principal, founder, CTO or even general manager, you need to be vigilant here. To identify if this has happened to your own company or non-profit organization, simply type in your company name followed by “Facebook”. Next, search your website domain name followed by the word Facebook. Putting these search terms together will display a webpage in the results that contain those keywords. (You might also discover that your company's user name is taken, but that’s for another blog post.)

The same search structure goes for Twitter (and just about any other social platform for that matter). I have yet to see a rogue employee create a corporate Twitter account, but “never say never”. Perhaps it’s because Twitter just seems to be harder to manage from a newbie perspective. In the case of a LinkedIn corporate account, this rogue employee would have to really go out of their way to build it. A company page on LinkedIn can only be created by using the company domain email address, so a rogue employee’s personal LinkedIn account by itself would not work.

Solution
If this has happened to you, your first priority is to gain access to the Fan Page and understand what it might be good for. You can communicate a lot of information in various ways, but on Facebook, it’s really about easy to digest multimedia, like photos, videos and creative apps. Technically you’ve already created an account on Facebook, but might not have experience in managing your own mini-community. I find Feverbee to be a great resource for online community managers because Richard Millington shows you successful perspectives.

Understand that once you've entered into social media, you should build a strategy that covers the online channels you might need to engage in like email marketing, blogs and the hundreds of social networks. You’ve already jumped onto the learning curve, so you might as well start climbing it. Be aware that it will take quite a bit of time and this learning curve is quite steep. It’s a long haul commitment, but with the right people on board, you will succeed and eventually stand out.

If you’re still deciding whether or not to build a “social brand”, get as many different opinions as possible, but make sure they’re experienced in at least one industry like communications, customer service, branding, management and / or marketing. Don’t have one conversation with your friend in the music industry and then base your decision on that. Take all perspectives with a grain of salt because some people will tell you that social media is just a fad. Yet more informed colleagues will tell you that chief marketing officers who are measuring their return on investment reported an average 95% (2% surveyed reported a 1000% ROI.).

I’d advise you to start because most customers expect you to offer a Fan Page where they can engage with your brand, a Twitter account to tweet to and in some cases a LinkedIn company page to follow. Make sure you get the right strategist and monitor everything as you evolve and refine your processes. Keep an eye on the employees managing the messages because the saying that customer service employees are the face of your company applies to social media profiles too.