Last year the Minnesota Lynx won the WNBA championship and won the hearts of an avid social media user base. A social media user base that the Minnesota Lynx cultivated on Google+ thanks to early adoption and a strong focus on the new social network. On Sunday the Lynx advanced to yet another WNBA finals appearance, but their verified Google+ page with more than 30,000 fans disappeared.
It turns out that even though the Minnesota Lynx had multiple page managers, the Google+ user that set up the account left the organization. The email of the user was out of the Lynx’s system (Google+ was not available for Google Apps until 4 months post-launch,) giving the Lynx no options for bringing the account back. We spoke with Bob Stanke, Director of Interactive Services for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and were told the following story:
“The timing could not be worse for us. On the verge of having record amounts of web traffic and social media attention because our team is returning the WNBA Finals, we are now without one of our largest social presences.
Google’s local field marketing team did in fact tell us that we would have to “start over” and they would add us back to the recommended users list, but we have lost several months of content and 30k+ followers. I was disappointed to say the least.”
This for a team that has been touting Google+ all year round:
The Minnesota Lynx Google+ page has become the first WNBA team page to be verified! Circle #loslynx at: bit.ly/MrROys
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) September 25, 2012
Clearly this puts a stain on Google+ and should give all marketers warning about which accounts “own” each page. In a public post (a clearly aggravated) Stanke stated:
“We adopted early and what did we get in return??? Our page is now completely gone! And the advice is to “start over”? All that time we spent with your awesome local marketing team here in Minneapolis is now a complete waste. Unacceptable on every level. You are one of the top technology companies in the world and you can’t restore our page? Even as reigning WNBA champions, we might not matter to you, but this action does make us strongly consider moving our entire organization’s social marketing efforts to other places and completely cut all ad spending we were going to do with Google.”
The Lynx earned those 30,000 followers and they deserve to have the Google+ page that they cultivated. Hopefully this will shed some light on an obvious problem area for Google+. What’s most concerning is how easily this prominent professional team lost a verified Google+ page over an email address and the “start over” advice provided. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you — check the account tied to your page and be cautious with all those tied to it.
We’ve reached out to Google for a comment and will update the post with any official statements.
Postscript: The team’s Google+ page now appears to be back, though it’s not showing any of the previous posts that were there. It may be that Google’s still working to restore it. It might also be that the person who was left was the page owner (as opposed to being a page manager) and perhaps made use of the “Delete Page” feature thinking that was the right thing to do:
That feature does allow for transferring a page’s ownership. If this is not done, then the page will lose all of its content and those who were managers will not be able to administer it. That sounds like what happened to the Lynx page.
Another thought is that the person who was the page owner may have been using a unique Gmail address (and Google Account) made just for this page, then when leaving the company, deleted that account. That would have brought up a confirmation screen like this:
A warning that Google+ pages would be deleted as part of this is just one of several warnings, perhaps easily missed.
Postscript 2 (7:45pm ET): The page has now been fully restored.