Gemma RobertsView Profile
When your business is facing or going through liquidation, there is a lot to consider. One thing usually forgotten, is your online presence and how to deal with it during the liquidation procedure.
Your website and social media presence are classed as assets by an insolvency practitioner (IP). Therefore, it’s treated like any other business asset that needs to be liquidated. It may be intangible, but it may be worth a lot of money to the right person. The strength of the site, the connections you have through it (your network), the brand name attached to it, the volumes of traffic to your site and whether or not it is a sales or e-commerce site. All these factors determine the overall value of your website.
But not all websites hold value and many owners will want to remove all traces of their websites and social media from the internet. If the liquidator thinks there is value attached, here are some pointers and tips for dealing with the situation.
You should always make sure you follow the liquidator’s instructions, and if your website is an asset, they’ll probably want you to do two things:
Leave your website open
You will have to confirm or wait for instruction from the liquidator, but they must do whatever is best for the asset to help obtain the best return for creditors. You may need to leave your site to lay dormant, or continue updating it if it’s agreed with the liquidator.
Revoke access to the website and social media
As soon as you realise that you may need to enter a liquidation procedure, you should revoke access to the online social media accounts from anyone bar directors and the liquidator. If you outsource your website and social media management, you should inform them of your current situation.
If you have an in-house team, it is a good idea to stop them managing and performing updates. Unfortunately, at this point, you may have to consider making them redundant. Though the jobs may be able to be saved, it is dependent on whether the business is salvageable. Until this has been discussed, you should take direct control of your business’ online presence.
Make the necessary announcements on your website and social media
In some circumstances, making announcements of updates surrounding your company and outlining what is happening, will be appreciated by customers and clients. In other cases, it may be better to say nothing if the business is still able to trade (for example through a CVA) and keep “business as normal”.
If it is common knowledge that your business is facing issues, both current and potential customers may thank you for the updates, especially if you manage to save the company through a repayment plan, or a pre-pack procedure.
If the business is to be closed, leaving your site to lay dormant could confuse visitors who will wonder what is going on. Plus, you may still receive incoming enquiries and business offers. By announcing your business’ closure, it will remove the burden of dealing with enquiries from yourself and your liquidator.
If you can keep the website live – create a landing page
A landing page is a static web page that people see when they click on to your website. It is like posting a sign in your shop window, keeping everybody informed. It also enables the business to continue receiving online orders, if in a payment plan.
Keeping your network informed
As mentioned above, keeping clients and customers informed is very important, and you should update social media and blogs depending on your liquidator’s approval. Your employees, investors, suppliers and shareholders will also need to be kept up to date with procedures, but there will be official updates through announcements in the Gazette or via your liquidator.
If the website is deemed redundant
If your website or online presence is not worth any money, then you will need to take action to close the website and stop any potential malicious postings by disgruntled staff or creditors during the liquidation.
Firstly, revoke employee access to your website before making them redundant. That way, you know that you will have no problems with staff when it comes to controlling websites and social media.
Then you should close every social media account you own. Also, you might want to do a search for any mentions of you or your company. If you’re advised or want to have these removed, you should get in touch with the relevant person to deal with this.
Be aware that some employees may take the news badly and use their position to smear the company or directors online. These instances are rare, and employers have tried to curb this by writing clauses covering internet and social media usage in contracts. However, it can be difficult to act on this unless you have the means to fund the case personally.
Your business’ online profile is an area often overlooked during liquidation proceedings, and there are a few grey areas. As each liquidation is unique, what works for one company’s online presence might not be best for another. Once your liquidator has assessed your circumstances, they can come up with a plan of how to handle your online presence. It’s essential you do this as soon as possible to avoid further damage.