Social Media and Death Part 2 - Dealing With The Logistics of the Internet, Social Media And Death.
No matter whether family is having to go through personal effects, or handling bills, or dealing with computer accounts, many find it very hard to look upon the reminder of a life now gone. Often times the reaction is to deactivate the email and various accounts. However, what many don't realize is that in some cases deactivation is not actually deleting an account, and can be reversed.
The various social media platforms now require prove of death, and relationship, before accounts can be managed. However, they do offer various ways of handling the accounts.
Facebook requires the survivors to contact them. They will never give out account information, but after proving that a death has taken place, and that you are the representative, you can request one of three actions. One is to request that the site be memorialized; this means that people can add to the timeline, and messages, but other than that nothing else can be changed. The second action is to deactivate; this is a reversible action, and the family can later decide to memorialize. The last action is to delete the account, and this is a permanent action.
Twitter requires all documentation to be mailed in. They will not give out account information, but with the correct documentation they will deactivate the account.
Google always seems to be thinking ahead, and offers the "Inactive Account Manager" so that you can decide how your many Google accounts are to be handled. You can decide if trusted contacts will have access to your accounts, or if your email and data will be deleted after an allotted amount of time.
Pinterest requires full documentation of a death, and relationship, to deactivate an account. The family member needs to first send an email to their customer support.
Linkedin requires an online form to remove a member's profile, along with proper paperwork.
Instagram and Tumblr require you to contact their support emails, and representatives will then contact the family with the needed requirements.
Many funeral homes are now creating checklists that can be used to make sure accounts have been dealt with. These same checklists can help with pre-planning, and provide the family with account information that allows for easier handling of the accounts.
Still many would think that this is trivial compared to more pressing concerns of final arrangements, and financial concerns. However, internet accounts should be considered just as vital, since inactive accounts can be gateways to identity theft, and that is the last thing a family needs as they try to deal with the intricacies of death.
Even more pressing is when the deceased was a business owner. Whether the business has employees, or the business owner was the only staff, those accounts are vulnerable. For businesses, particularly businesses with one or two employees, it is necessary to have a trusted associate have your sign-in information. If the business is going to continue you will not want accounts, such as Twitter, deactivated.
Granted not many of us want to consider the hour of our demise, but most are coming to realize that funeral pre-planning is a good way to ease the way for our survivors, or to at least make sure that our final wishes are carried out.
The same can be said with internet pre-planning.
Make sure you have accounts and passwords listed somewhere, and then make sure that list is kept with your executor or funeral home. Also make sure to periodically update those lists, since we always end up with new accounts, or password changes.
Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest accounts are not normally high on the list of priorities when you are considering your final wishes. However, social media now effects every part of our lives and businesses, and in a three part series I will look at how it can impact the survivors.
I will grant that as a discussion topic this was far from my thoughts; at least not until I found myself reading a Facebook memorial service for an acquaintance. She and I had only reconnected on social media a few months past, and not soon after I noted a post where she said she was having a minor medical procedure done. Then came a flurry of sympathy posts for her passing, and her sister turned the deceased's Facebook page into a memorial site.
The end result of this was I ended up interviewing the owners of Butler Funeral Home about how the funeral industry was handling social media.
The first thing that Mr. Butler said was that whatever the medium used the human impulse to share news, and to give support, doesn't change. However, that with social media the spread of the news has sped up. He mentioned that this is something that families might want to take into consideration when using social media to announce a passing.
When death happens there is a desperate need to reach out to the living, and in telling of the death to try to deal with the reality. Smart phones, laptops, and tablets make it far easier to reach out to friends and acquaintances, but the speed of communication sometimes out runs more traditional means. Mr. Butler said they have heard of families who heard about a death on Facebook before the official call came.
The speed of interaction can also be a blessing for those directly involved, because it does allow of nearly instantaneous outpouring of sympathy, and help. It is also a way to share out funeral arrangements, and funeral homes are helping with this by linking obituaries to their social media.
The Facebook accounts, and other social media, can also offer a place to share memories, which is particularly helpful for friends and acquaintances that can't be there in person. And if desired that page can be turned into a permanent tribute to the deceased.
The Illusion Of A Name
It wasn't till recently that I had really pondered how old username and email habits might affect an individual's views of social media. Maybe it was because I came to the internet at the time when email interaction was the newest "social" craze, and so I hadn't stepped far enough back in order to consider the question.
Anymore, though, I have to consider the "whys" of potential clients' reluctance regarding social media usage, and am always looking at what might impact their outlook. It is a topic I often discuss with a friend of mine, and he mentioned that many over the age of 50 are suspicious of social media and how much it might intrude on their privacy. This I could accept as a relative given, and what I ran into recently supports this, but with a twist.
Not too long ago a old friend tried to connect with me on Linkedin, but for her profile she was using a old fantasy character name. One I have heard her mention off and on from her various online games, since she often plays, and reviews, them. When I asked her about it she said that she had only created an account because someone recommended Linkedin, but that she wasn't about to tell anything about herself!
Yes, she fits the demographics on age, with the attendant suspicions about privacy, but I realized she also fits into another demographic. The demographic I am considering is made up of people who still strive to have the anonymity of their username/email.
I can remember the time, particularly in regards to participating in any online group, that the email names often defined the "who" you were emailing, or talking to on AIM. The anonymity of the users names were an accepted part of the masquerade. In many ways the email groups were the realm of make believe, but this was also the cause of concern, because the unwary could be led astray.
Now transparency is becoming the byword.
Social media, like the earlier use of email, originally was a playground; a new “toy” where people could express themselves – usually behind a “mask.” Yet, like email, businesses have begun to rely on social media, and reality, rules, and etiquette are setting in. And once again a person's reputation is vital. And open for scrutiny.
Yes, a frightening thought for many, but the playground has given way to "reality" for any who desire to be in the professional world.
Keep on Sharing!
In every business "how to book" and seminar one of the main emphasize is networking, and it is accepted as common sense that to build your business you have to know a range of people. Sometimes these are people you meet at networking groups. Sometimes it is an acquaintance you meet at the grocery store.
And it is a solid practice.
A practice that hold true for your Facebook, Google +, Linkedin, and Twitter interactions. And even Pinterest - "pinning" makes a difference too.
When you "like," "follow," "connect," or "create a circle" another site, or customer, you begin to get their postings in your "newsfeed." Your newsfeed is usually found in your "home" on most of the platforms. However, what you see in your newsfeed is not, at that point, showing up on your public profile. This holds true for either personal, or business, pages; both of which have "home" icons and newsfeeds.
Those postings in your newsfeeds offer a wonderful chance to help out your business associates and clients. As you read through your newsfeeds you can also share or retweet your colleagues' postings, and with this you help broaden their visibility. And remember, if you are pleased with their business - add a comment, or recommend them.
So, when you go out to post, keep your business friends in mind, and help them out. It not only will help strengthen their web presence, but yours' too.
More often than not we take "likes," "friends," "follows," "sharing," "retweets," and "endorsements" for granted; requests for them happen so often that they become background noise. Or an annoyance. For a business page, however, they form part of the life blood of the media interaction, particularly since search engines are more heavily tracking social media traffic.
What most don't realize is how thrilling a "like" or a "follow" can be to a business starting off into the strange world of social media.
And comments of satisfied customers can make a owner's whole day.
In truth, this holds true for most small businesses and their social media accounts. Activity means that people are staying aware of the business and their services.
Yet with the demands of keeping up with their own media platforms businesses sometimes it is easy to forget to return the favor for their customers.
For business to business relations "liking" a customer's page helps build activity for both, and to take that a step further - sharing posts between pages really helps. And it goes beyond that too; by keeping up with clients' pages, personal or business, you learn what is important to them. Plus you learn where you can help - whether as a business or as a person, by supporting their favorite causes.
So when you are out posting to your own social media sites make sure to look in on your clients'.
Like their pages.
Endorse their talents.
And share generously!
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.