HMV, a British electronics company, encountered an unexpected communications challenge when working through a set of layoffs last week. Among those let go was the organization’s social media planner, who took her frustration to the company’s Twitter handle and began live tweeting about the firings to 70,000 followers.
The employee sent out detrimental tweets such as: “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring” and “There are over 60 us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring.”
According to the continued corporate tweets, the organization struggled with to how to handle the situation as management was not familiar with Twitter. The renegade employee eventually messaged the company with instructions on how to revoke her access since she still possessed administrative rights the following day.
All negative posts were eventually deleted, but not before journalists had immortalized them through screenshots.
This is not the first time that unhappy employees have abused their corporate social media privileges, but it does provide a stunning example of how unprepared many companies are for such damaging possibilities.
With the prominence and power of social media, it is critical that organizations possess a number of employees who have access to and are well-versed in how to use the corporate accounts.
Companies should also have a crisis communications strategy in place for instances such as layoffs. In this case, a predetermined plan should have been established for restricting employee access to corporate social media accounts. This is something that should have been carefully considered in advance, not after the dismissal of the company’s social media point person.
While organizations cannot control what their employees say individually, they should set up policies to minimize the likelihood that their official communication channels can be used against them to cause self-inflicted wounds.
Ironically, the HMV employee stated on her personal Twitter handle that the reason for her actions was to help the company understand the importance and influence of social media. Hopefully, others can learn from this organization’s hard-earned lesson.