For educators, summer is a time to step back, reflect and plan for the coming year. Those of us also working in social media, summer is a time not only to reflect and plan but also to refine and edit our social media channels.


This summer, stepping into the role of Social Media Manager at Worcester Academy, I was charged with unearthing all the channels associated with our brand that had ever been created.


As I embarked on this journey, I found myself confronted with social media islands, channels created by previous employees, now abandoned and inconsistent with our brand and message.


The social media island is a potential epidemic for any organization that is trying to embrace social media. On the one hand, we want to encourage students, faculty and staff to embrace social media in creative and innovative methods. On the other hand, institutions have branding guidelines and procedures to ensure consistency in marketing materials, voice and messaging.


As I discovered these abandoned channels, another problem arose, log-in. Former employees had created these Flickr, Youtube, and Twitter accounts, now there was no way for me to access these accounts without contacting the employees who in many cases, no longer remembered the log-in info. Despite the fact that these were our institutional accounts, sites like Flickr and Youtube wouldn’t give me access, as these were registered under a myriad of email accounts. Facebook groups couldn’t be closed nor could their buddy icons / messaging be updated, as the admins of the accounts were no longer employees. So you see, we had created little isolated islands of social media, that were beautiful from afar but no one could get to.

So how do you prevent this from happening at your organization while encouraging creative and innovative uses of social media by community members?

  1. Create an email account through your school’s email system that is specific to social media but doesn’t depend on the tenure of one faculty member (e.g. wasocialmedia at This way, if a person leaves, you can easily request access to the schools social media account using the password reset. Also, if you have a team of employees managing social media, all inquiries can be directed to the one account.
  2. Define your goals. How do you want the community to use social media? Can anyone create channels? Is there an approval process? By defining goals and creating clear guidelines and objectives, faculty and staff will help further your social media mission. Instead of creating islands of content you can create nations of content where community members work together and information flows smoothly.
  3. Are your islands reproducing? If your channels aren’t connected, does everyone know how to get to them? Are efforts being duplicated simply because of a lack of communication? Identify your social media mavens. Track your efforts, know what channels exist and think strategically about where the wholes are. Do you have a soccer team with 5 forwards and 1 goalie?
  4. Know your ambassadors. Identify them to the community. By identifying a few key ambassadors with actual social media responsibilities, your goals and objectives will evolve from a wish list to a framework from which you can create dynamic content.

The process of overhauling, distilling and refining isn’t easy. Using spreadsheets to make lists of every known account, owner and other important information will help you get all the important information that you need into one place as you try to make these changes. Having had a summer to work on this, I am happy to say that after three months we now have access to all of our social media accounts and are able to align our channels so that information flows effectively. Its a process to make this change but persevere, it’s worth it.


Photo credit: Storm Crypt licensed under Creative Commons

Rachel Sebell

Principal Inbound Marketing Consultant Team Lead at HubSpot