What to do when your social media lead leaves the company?




This year has brought a lot of change within the social media world. Some of the most respected names in the industry have announced their departure from big brands. There have even been some changes here in the Detroit social media community.

Transitions are never easy. However, changes in the social media space often bring new complications to the table. In many cases, the individuals behind successful social media programs are often very visible and frequently are very integrated into the program. Removing that personality from public efforts can cause quite a few headaches.

Additionally, the increasing availability of positions for social media marketers has created more opportunities for seasoned program leads to take on new career challenges. Basically, these types of announcements are going to happen more frequently.

If your social media lead decides to take his/her career in another direction, consider incorporating these steps into your transition plan:

Re-write the job description

For a social media lead with a few years under his/her belt, there is a good chance the job has evolved quite a bit since day one. Changes in technology and best practices have likely impacted not only daily responsibilities, but also the overall core strategy.

Before your social media lead steps out the door, be sure to review the current job description and make the appropriate updates. If possible, ask your outgoing lead to work with you to make the updates. Be sure to include an updated list of monitoring platforms, analytics services, and other related software programs currently being utilized.

Additionally, capture any updated usernames, passwords, and original creative files (images, video, etc.). It sounds elementary, but you would be surprised how often these simple steps are overlooked.

Prepare and deliver your external message

One of the hardest obstacles in any transition is communicating the change to your clients and customers. It’s very likely the departing social media lead will prepare his/her own message for a personal blog and social channels.

If your outgoing social media lead is very visible and the departure is on good terms, preparing an exit announcement or blog post is a great tactic. This message should probably come from a senior executive on the communications team as a sign of strength. It’s also the opportunity to introduce or re-introduce new voices, even if it’s only temporary.

Update existing creative

In the social media space, many brands tend to humanize the people behind their logos. This means making the proper exit transition may involve more than just updating the names and faces on your core website.

If a list doesn’t already exist, inventory your existing social accounts and determine where changes need to be made. It’s also a best practice to have some neutral creative waiting in the wings just in case you need to swap out images due to staff departures. An example would be swapping out a Twitter account background that features the names and faces of the operators for something brand neutral until the appropriate changes are made.

Make sure business continues as usual

The most important thing you can do is ensuring that the customer/client experience remains the same throughout the transition. If you have an internal team or social media agency available, make sure they have a backlog of content prepared as internal resources are shifted around.  

If possible, try not to let communities and social media accounts go dormant.  Jump-starting a social media presence can take a lot of extra effort. Keeping energy levels consistent can help sidestep this issue.

Have you experienced a similar situation where your social media lead has departed the program? How have you handled the transition?

Identity Social Media Director Brandon Chesnutt contributed to this post.