For many organizations and brands the decision to start a social media channel is a deliberate decision with conversations, strategy, and a roll-out. What are the considerations and deliberations when you decide to close a social media account, effectively retiring, or sunsetting a social media account?
There are several reasons a brand, organization, consultant, or social media strategist would sunset an account. These can include:
- Social media accounts are not performing or meeting organization or brand goals.
- Social media platform business practices, security, privacy does not align to your core business values.
- Social media platform use is declining among audience, customers, and community.
- Social media account is a rogue account, not setup or managed by a brand or organization.
- Social media account is a dead account – i.e. historically setup but no longer managed or a loss of access.
- The social media platform itself is closing or shutting down i.e. Vine.
What should you review before, during, and after you decide to sunset an account?
Before You Sunset An Account
- Analyze Your Account: A social media audit, reporting, and analysis can help you diagnose a social media account’s performance. If you conduct analysis at set consistency, you may be able to correct a strategy, review the changing evolution of social media providers, if a social media platform aligns to your business values, and if a social media platform itself is not reaching audience, customers, or community. This analysis can help you review if there are alternative approaches, if you want to benchmark and measure success for a period of time, or pursue sunsetting a social media account.
- Review Community Impact:If you’ve built a community on a social media platform, you will want to review if your community will successfully navigate to a new social channel or convert the community to an owned platform like your website. Especially in the case of a social media platform shutdown like Vine, look at the social platform vacuum that is created and evaluate if you can transition that community to a similar platform and appeal to that community using similar successful content.
- Obtain Stakeholder Buy-In: The decision to close a social media account should be led by marketing but key stakeholders should be brought into the decision as well to reflect on the social media channel meeting organizational goals, if you can invest more resources or time to making the account successful, if there is brand value or brand risk in maintaining a social media presence.
Once the Decision to Sunset is Made
You’ve analyzed your accounts and reviewed the community impact and have decided to sunset your social media account on a particular platform, there are several steps that you can take to support your social media community and/or transition accounts. The scope of this may not be robust depending on your social media account goals, reason for sunset, or community.
- Create a Sunset Timeline: Identify a timeline for when you want to close, archive, and/or delete your accounts.
- Communicate Your Intentions – External: Consider how and when you would like to communicate the sunsetting of your social media account. You will want to give your community and platform notice of the closure. This could be a single pinned post or campaign to let individuals know of the planned sunsetting and try to transition customers and community to your website, email list, or other social media platform.
- Determine Social Media Compliance Requirements: Some industries limit what content you can hide, delete, or archive via the Freedom of Information Act and other regulations dictating access, archival, and public record of social media content. Life Sciences, Financial, Banking and Insurance, Public Government Institutions including Higher Education. You may not be able to archive and delete your social media presence. Hootsuite’s has a great overview of social media compliance for those looking to review the considerations related to their specific industry.
- Deletion or Deactivation: Review Limitations of Removing a Social Media Account History: There are different social media functionalities and processes to remove a social media account history and in some cases, it is not an immediate action.
- Instagram Limitations: Instagram allows you to archive individual posts, bulk archive posts, and you can temporarily deactivate your account, your profile, photos, comments and likes will be hidden until you reactivate it by logging back in.
- Twitter Limitations: In order to permanently delete your account, Twitter requires that you first deactivate it. Your information will be stored for 30 days, during which time you can reactivate your account at any time. After the 30 days, Twitter will erase your information and you will not be able to reactivate your account
- Facebook Limitations: Facebook allows you to deactivate or delete your account. If you deactivate your profile, information is no longer available on Facebook, but the site still saves all of the information in case the user returns.
- TikTok Limitations: You’re able to recover your account for up to 30 days after deleting it. You’ll be shown a screen saying that you’ll have 30 days to reactivate your account if you change your mind.
- LinkedIn Limitations: You can’t deactivate your LinkedIna account but you can delete it. When you delete your account, LinkedIn will remove your account information within seven days.
Ready to Sunset your Social Media Account
The impulse to sunset an account, especially an account that is not performing is to simply delete the account. It’s cathartic to remove a struggling account as it allows a strategist and marketer to focus on other accounts that are stronger performing. However, you’ll want to document the account history. This includes:
- Export Lifetime Data.
- Pull Creative Campaigns for historical posterity.
- Run Reports on follower behavior, content performance.
- Archive Account History: If you can archive your account history and the social media channel allows you to archive.
- Save Logins: If you have to maintain the account presence but continue to not update, remove all user access and save an administrator login.
- Sunset the Account and Move Forward!
Happy trails as you consider the path forward for accounts that no longer serve your organization, brand, or strategy.
Author: Katy Spencer Johnson, SMS
Katy Spencer Johnson, SMS (she, her) is a Social Media and Content Strategist, Educator, & Marketing Consultant. An advocate for social media best practices and digital literacy, Katy has worked in higher education, non-profit, finance, healthcare, and publishing industries, building content and community. Katy is the Director of Marketing and Communications for House of Possibilities, a non-profit disability services provider on the Stonehill College campus in Massachusetts. Connect with Katy on Twitter @katyb_spencer and on LinkedIn.