10 Tips Why To Appoint A Social Media Executor

Fatality and happenstance are occurring faster than furious these days. What does that mean for we in social media who are engaged more than frequently every single day of the year?

If you blog that means you have at least the Big Five channels on which you engage. You then have a second-tier list of additional apps and channels on which you’re building community, too (e.g. Instagram, GoodReads, Zemanta).

Should ever your unexpected demise occur, have you thought of how your online community should receive this news in an appropriate fashion? There is a grapevine on the Interwebz.

When our colleague, Trey, left this world of his own volition several years ago, it was horrifying to us all, and the gossip mill was alive and too well with untruths. No one took control of his blog or channels to set the record straight.

It is our responsibility to pave our pathway to the future with golden bricks; leave a legacy that keeps people speaking about you in high regard. What that means is we should not leave too many loose ends; this includes our online persona, brand identity and the many core communities we’ve established, grown and now nurture.

This entire post came to me last night, out of the blue. I have done no research to ensure what I write below is accurate; these are my own ideas. If you have others to share instead or in addition, please do. Perhaps there are services and apps people can use, too.

10 Tips Managing/Being A Social Media Executor

1. Look around your community. Is there anyone you really trust and have also had privilege of meeting IRL? Do you engage with them weekly, and is that relationship solid? Pick someone and broach this conversation. Ask them if they would be your social media executor.

2. Give them the log in information to your blog. Provide a set of instructions and expectations, as well. You should give them the name of your estate executor (at this time) so as to expect a phone call (hopefully not for decades).

3. In your will (do you have a will, peeps?), add this person’s name and contact information so the executor of your estate can reach them immediately and share the news with factual information.

4. Write The Final Post and add it to your blog dashboard in DRAFT form only. Ignore it!

5. When your social media executor gets the news, have them publish “The Final Post.” I’d also suggest the social media executor add an addendum to the post.

6. Write a draft blog post entitled, “NEVER POST THIS; for Social Media Executor.” In this piece, you will share the log in information for all the social media channels on which you engage.

7. The social media executor will communicate with the estate executor and plan how to announce on each channel that the owner of this identity will no longer be posting.

8. Give communities the opportunity to express their sentiment on that person’s channel. The social media executor will know how to communicate with each community and allow people the opportunity to share and ask questions.

This step is so critical, but maybe that’s my view and others may not agree.

9. Write down your expectation about how you’d like people to know such news. If you want to abruptly close channels with no intermittent period, then say so.

10. Have the social media executor close accounts as appropriate after communicating with the family and/or estate executor.

(Quick P.S.: The title is awkward as the 10 items are more “about” how, whether to appoint, how to be one and so there wasn’t a great way to express; hopefully you got the gist!)


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Interesting thinking. Why not?


We have precautions for pretty much anything else but then again when you're gone you're gone. I see the merit in a slow shut down. @Ken Mueller posted something about a guy named Jersey Mike who also died suddenly. His site is still up and running, I think. It's a weird situation. This stuff kind of blows your mind if it hits you unexpectedly.

gina valley
gina valley

VERY important to think about.  Thank you for the suggestions!


Crazy thoughts, but very pragmatic.  I always find it creepy when I see posts about Trey Pennington, and how that situation was handled.  I should consider what I would want if this were to occur.  Thanks for the prod!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

This comment was left on my blog post via Triberr by Brad Friedman. It's so critical that I've pasted it here so others who may read this post can understand that this topic is HUGE...


Brad Friedman Wrote on Triberr:


Great post. Nice way to start the conversation. This is a very big topic. So much I'd like to say. There is a fair amount of material being written by estate planning attorneys on this topic and much more to come. I think for now what I'd like to say is this: One must also consider that his/her social and online sites have value and must be dealt with as an asset of the estate. It's not just about writing a few last posts and shutting things down. Depending on the extent of your involvement online you may have some valuable assets. Your contacts may be worth something to your heirs. You may need to distribute these sites in your will. Food for thought?


I've definitely thought about this before - http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/05/26/our-digital-footprint-when-a-friend-%E2%80%93-and-a-network-%E2%80%93-dies/ and in the comments, Johnny Russo did as well.


The idea of handing over my passwords makes me uneasy. But I can promise you that SOMEONE will notify Jayme, who in turn will notify everyone else. I got a plan, see.


Because of what I shared in my previous post - I wouldn't do #10. Only because I love thinking about my friend that I lost, and it feels like he is still with me.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @rdopping  @Ken Mueller I wish I was so pragmatic that I planned for everything and then put that plan into action. Alas, I can tell everyone what they ought to do, as I'm a strategic counselor, but as for myself? I suck. 


I'm thinking something like this has to be done with the expectation there could be a sudden situation. I paid for an estate lawyer to do up the real paperwork; now I will draft something and get it notarized and add it to the file. 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @geoffliving Someone like you with published assets may need to do a bit more, Geoff. What if your books went viral and EVERYONE bought a copy --  kinda like the Girl  With the Dragon Tatoo? Did that author have an estate for proceeds/sales/profits to fold into? 


It's a ton to think on...none of it pleasant. And, as you say about Trey -- this was nearly 3 years ago, right? It was horrificly managed and an even worse situation. 

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @jennwhinnem You're so good Jenn. That's why I said a Trusted social media peep! I'd pick you b/c I trust you, have met you IRL, know you as a person and engage with your nearly every day. 


I think #10 doesn't really mean closing accounts; it just means no more charges i.e. my HootSuite that charges me $6/month. Those kind of accounts need to be closed for sure. And, the revolving automatic renewals you forget about. Sheesh. I have to find the one I know I signed up for and never went back; I wonder if it's auto renew? Wouldn't they tell me?