Lisa D JenkinsToday’s guest post is written by Lisa D. Jenkins

It all starts very innocently. Joe or JoAnne (I’m an equal opportunity offender) down the hall wants to bring The Business into the 21st century by putting it online.

First stop, Facebook. Why? “Well, because EVERYONE is on Facebook! We have to be there, too.”

Excellent. By the way, EVERYONE just called and they want to know when you’re meeting them to shave your head and jump off the bridge. I digress.

With no discussion of the stuff that matters – regulation, strategy, or execution –  someone is named Supreme Ruler of Our Online Marketing Universe, a title endowed with absolute authority to claim or create profiles and publish across the internet on behalf of The Business.

The Supreme Ruler owns the access information, creates the content, represents The Business, carries the conversation. The Business is suddenly popping up in online directories, consumer review sites, and social networks.

Communities are built and there’s a big group of people following everything. It’s all sunshine and lollipops. Until that employee is dismissed or resigns and, subsequently, disgruntled … and a rogue is born.

“It’s like the worst Groundhog Day scenario ever.” That’s how a new client initially described waking up every morning to see his Facebook page hijacked and pointing his audience to a new, local competitor every day. There’s a button to Press In Dire Situations just like this. Go ahead, I’ll wait …

Okay, moving on …

I spent weeks searching out profiles across the Internet trying to establish ownership and control so correct and accurate information could be repopulated. I was successful with every listing excepting the Facebook presence, which was set up as a page under the profile of the ex-employee, using the business name in the custom URL.

I know – don’t get me started on how adhering to the Terms of Service could have saved a lot of bother. I was able to have the relevant business contact information removed and have the offending page changed to a profile but, ultimately, my client had to kiss that community goodbye and start again. It was a hard lesson.

Three Ways to Help Your Business Avoid Rogue Behaviors

  • Have a clear online marketing policy and guidelines signed by all your employees.
  • Create a dedicated email address, shared by the owner, and the Supreme Ruler of Our Online Marketing Universe, which is used to administer all online profiles.
  • Develop a log of all existing online profiles, including access credentials. Keep it updated; an audit report must be produced upon request and if the report provides outdated information, loss of employment is a possibility.

It’s easy to say “hire smarter” but sometimes things (and unethical people) happen. It’s not pretty and, although the public may be understanding, reputations suffer and valuable ground is lost.

What is the worst rogue attack you’ve ever seen? What other safeguards do you recommend to protect businesses from the threat of angry ex-employees pirating online profiles?  Who else gets a migraine every time they see a business using a Profile instead of a Page on Facebook?

The gentlelady from the Pacific Northwest yields the floor.

Lisa D. Jenkins is a marketing and public relations professional growing into her Big-Girl Business Panties one terrifying decision at a time.  She loves quirky t-shirts, red wine, Guinness, and will die literature poor.  You can find her on Twitter @LisaDJenkins.