Case Study: The Curious Case of Benny's Social Recovery

It’s not uncommon for small business owners to delegate the responsibility of social media account management to a single employee, and at face value that sounds OK... right? Not exactly.

Problems can (and often do) arise when that employee leaves the company—and even worse, if they leave on bad terms. Passwords are lost, admin privileges stay in the wrong hands, and in extreme cases, unflattering posts are put out for the world to see.

In Benny’s case, the scenario we mentioned previously was their exact predicament. An ex-employee created and controlled their social accounts. Once that employee left the company, they took the admin privileges and passwords with them, and contact was never re-established. Benny’s team spent a lot of time attempting to fix the situation, and after getting nowhere, decided they needed help.

Losing control of your accounts can be frightening, even damaging for your business and its reputation. Getting everything back in order isn’t exactly straightforward, either. Still, it can be done—and thanks to our close relationship with Facebook support, and our understanding of the recovery process, we’ve become experts on the matter. That experience meant that when Benny’s Car Wash & Oil change came to 5 Stones looking to recover their Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channel, we were up to the task.

It might seem reasonable to simply create a new account and move on. Although that is one approach to solving this problem, it does create another issue that would also need to be addressed. Using a consistent name across social media channels is an integral part of a broader branding strategy. Understanding this, Benny’s wanted to retain their @BennysCarWash handle across the board.

Each platform differs significantly on how they handle account recovery. Almost all of them require extensive documentation—bank statements, an electricity bill, and even a statement of intent on official letterhead—to validate you are the rightful owner the account in question. Of course this makes sense, but logic aside it remains an arduous process.

On Twitter, for example, their user account FAQ outright denies requests for username transfers. This roadblock pushed our team to think creatively, leading us to proceed with a trademark infringement claim. It took multiple email threads, articles of incorporation, and even a power of attorney granting 5 stones the permission to act on behalf of Benny’s. Our efforts proved to be worth it in the end, because less than a month later Benny’s was back to tweeting from their handle of choice. The reclamation of their Instagram and YouTube accounts followed suit.

We can say with certainty that there’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach here. Re-claiming the Benny’s Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts each required their own distinct procedures. Furthermore, the process for other clients on all three platforms has never followed a discernible pattern. Our social media team knows what to anticipate and what documents to have on hand to expedite the ordeal, but truthfully each case is unique and takes time.

Kim Walker, co-owner and director of client services at 5 Stones, often teaches in her social media classes that business owners should always hold the keys to their own social media accounts. Hindsight is 20-20 though, right? If you’ve recently found yourself in the middle of a social media mutiny, or less dramatically just lost ownership of your accounts, 5 Stones is here to serve you and put the reigns to your online presence back in your hands.

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