In film, there are many lost password scenes that have kept us on the edge of our seats; this one from Jurassic Park is a favourite…
More and more, the same nail-biting horror scenes are entering the workspace and especially marketing departments.
10 years ago, there was no need for a marketing manager to be in possession of any web login details. CRM and email delivery were done via purchased products installed in-house, the corporate website’s domain was managed by IT and analytics in the B2B space was science fiction. Life was simple.
Fast forward to today and think about how many online tools, platforms, accounts and cloud services a well-connected company has access to:
- Project management aids
- Social media channels
- Social media tracking tools
- Social media broadcasting suites
- Email delivery platforms
- Blog admin suites
- Analytics tools
- Industry portal and directory accounts
- Photo albums
- Survey tools
- Location based communities
- Social bookmarking tools
- Online Fax tools
- Cloud based CRM and document management
- Content management systems
- Event management tools
- Asset management tools
- Webinar accounts
- News readers
- FTP tools
- Collaboration tools
The majority of the above sit with marketing and not IT, adding new worries to the ever expanding agendas of marketing managers and directors.
Who from your company has access to these online accounts? Whose name and email appear on the admin pages? Are you even aware of the complete list of accounts? When someone leaves the company do any login details go with them? Are you aware how difficult it is and how long it takes to access or close accounts someone else has opened even if your company’s name has been used?
Usually companies become aware of the issue when it’s too late. A time comes when you must access a specific account only to find that the login info is in the possession of someone who has left the company. At least, if you know who he/she is you could drop them a note. But often you might not know; it could be one of many people who have left the business in the past couple of years.
One of our clients said:
“We tried to access our TwitterFeed account but we realised that we didn’t have the login details. The person who opened the account has left the company and we don’t know who it is. We want to stop new blog posts triggering Tweets but at the moment we can’t. We tried to retrieve the password by using the emails of each person who has worked here for the past 12 months but they must have used a personal email address. We have tried TwitterFeed’s support advice but it hasn’t worked. We are still working on it.”
What to do about it
Such frustrating scenarios can compromise your marketing plans and interfere with running an efficient operation. To avoid the heartache of trying to gain access through trial and error, pleas to support email accounts and desperate searching for answers in user forums, it is better to plan ahead:
- Create a protocol for account opening and management and communicate it across the whole company. You don’t want to prevent people from researching and experimenting. New online tools and solutions come out all the time and people should be able to try out what seems relevant but only by using pre-determined login details.
- Protect your brand. When opening new accounts avoid using your company’s brand name unless it has been decided that this particular solution will be formally adopted by the business and therefore branded accordingly. If someone must use the brand name then they need to inform you first, so that there is joint admin access as an extra safety measure. (There is of course the opposite view that wants you registering your brand name everywhere just to prevent others from getting it first, but this is a different topic.)
- Maintain a central username and password bank. There are numerous tools to do this such as StickyPassword, or LastPass. See Mashable’s review of password management solutions.
- Use tools such as Namechk, Knowem, or Checkusernames, to find out where your company name has been registered as a username, check which of those accounts you have login details to and whether you should be opening new accounts to ensure that you control access (and secure the vanity name of course). Note that this is not 100% accurate as many company names can be written in a number of ways. Take a hypothetical company called Alpha Beta; an employee acting without instruction can open accounts using name variations like alpha-beta, alphabetatechnologies, alphabetasolutions, or alphabetauk, making search more difficult.
- Create alerts for your company name (and any variation) using tools like Google Alerts to ensure that nobody from your organisation posts content to places you have not authorised.