Social Media Contingency Plan: Do You Have One?

5 Social Media Backup Plan Factors to Consider

As corporate social media usage increases and expands across functions, organizations are hiring social media managers. Hiring at least one full time social media focused employee is one of the five indicators of social media adoption according to SmartBrief Inc. and Summus Limited’s research. Similarly Altimeter Group’s December 2010 research found that staff hiring was the number two priority for 2011, a year of social media integration.

Whose brand is your social media manager building?

Congratulations! You’ve hired a hotshot social media jockey to navigate your company’s path. Before you send him off, consider whether your representative will participate in the social media ecosphere under his name or your brand or company’s name. While you may want to cash in on his recognized name, consider to whom his followers are loyal. If it’s not an issue now, it will be if the manager leaves for greener pastures. Whose followers will they be then?

Here are the pros and cons of having your social media manager use his own identity to represent your firm’s social media face.


  • Authenticity. Having an individual represent your firm with his name gives your social media a human face and voice that’s at the core of social media.
  • Transparency. A person who uses their own name when representing your company and/or brand implies a level of credibility.
  • Recognized name. A well-known social media participant brings a following and an established track record that gets you attention.
  • Consistency. A single person supports your branding and can add value.


  • Identified with person’s perceived lifestyle, political interests and demographics. Your target market may associate your social media manager with specific points of view that don’t necessarily represent your firm.
  • Personality issues If members of your audience don’t like your manager, you may lose part of your audience.
  • Person’s opinion may diverge from business perspective. Overtime, your social media manager’s point of view may differ from that of your organization.
  • Person may leave. For a variety of reasons, your social media manager may leave. If he hasn’t built your firm’s social media profiles, it can take time to recreate them.

Social media contingency plan differs from a crisis plan since it’s about what happens to your social media manager (and/or team). It ensures that your firm is protected should something happen to your social media spokesperson, such as an illness or job change. Do you have a contingency plan to keep your social media strategy on track and are your company social media assets protected?

5 Steps to develop a social media contingency plan

Every company should have a social media contingency plan. Like a social media guidelines and a crisis plan, create this plan before you need it.  Here are five point that your social media backup plan should cover:

  1. Have a backup person for your social media manager. Who will take over the social media manager’s job if they’re out temporarily or something prevents them from being active. While this doesn’t have to be a permanent job, these functions must be part of the individual’s role.
  2. Train your social media backups. It’s not sufficient to just have a backup person assigned to your social media duties. They must be trained and have the appropriate access including social media IDs and relevant systems. Further, they need to know what’s required of them and where your social media plans are.
  3. Outline how social media followers/fans are to be handled in the social media manager’s absence. Since followers can be critical to a brand, define how any transition will occur. If your social media managers acts in his own names, spend time deciding how this transition will take place.
  4. Detail social media content ownership. Define your firm’s social media assets. Make sure that this is clear to all of your employees, regardless of their role. This is important whether social media is a part of an individual’s job or not. Think broadly about content – online, offline and live. State which assets belong to your firm including blogs, photographs, video, audio, tweets and presentations. This applies to social media consultants as well.
  5. Determine policies regarding leaving employees. Some firms react on a case by case basis. Among the issues to consider are: when do you change social media passwords, how do social media managers tell your fans and followers, do they train their replacement, and how long do they remain in your employ?

While the excitement and newness of building your social media team may distract you from creating a social media contingency plan, it’s important to protect your firm’s assets, regardless of what format they’re in.

Have you developed a social media contingency plan? If so what does it include? Is there anything that you’d add to this list? If so, what is it?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: Schmich via Flickr

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