I’ve been reviewing the social web outposts we’ve set up as an organisation over the last couple of weeks alongside thinking about digital strategy.

All of this has led me in some interesting thoughts and discussions but one thing that doesn’t seem to get talked about, even when thinking about governance, is shutting profiles down.

There is a cacophony of talk around JFDI to get started and well-argued debates on why or why not to enter certain spaces in certain ways. However, I’ve seen very little about using the monitoring skills you’ve learned to know when something really isn’t working, shut up the social shop and move on.

I think it’s worth thinking about what I mean by ‘working’. It could of course be defined in many ways (probably differently by organisation and citizen). It might mean that you’ve still got some control over the message you want to put out (or at least think you do!) or it might mean those magical mysterious fan figures are rising so validating your presence.

I think where I would draw the line at ‘not working’ is where despite doing everything you can there are no visitors, few fans and no engagement. At this point, with tough times a-facing us all, you have to question whether continuing is worth the (probably skant) resource.

But how many of us who are managing / championing social media in their organisation have thought about this situation and developed a strategy to actively deal with it? Or are we guilty of taking the path of least resistance and abandoning these organisational outposts?

Is this one of the areas where our social media efforts are different from other channels? How many of us would just abandon an organisational website and set up elsewhere? Or keep supporting the cost of printing when we know there is no readership or demand?

In those situations we’d be more likely to review and regroup – maybe take a different approach, maybe cease altogether. We’d probably have a debrief whatever the decision and take some lessons learnt to wherever our communication / engagement waggon train heads next.

It might be the easy thing to leave these sad little abandoned outposts scattered through cyberspace but perhaps we need to think of the impact on reputation, the message sent to even the few who do visit it and what we’re missing out on knowing by not looking at what we can learn from failing.