You probably already know that HMV as a brand are going through some hard times. I believe they have been bought out now, but not without making some redundancies and not before the person responsible for their Social Media channels had a bit of a rant.
Here are the messages that were sent from the @HMVTweets account, the official account of HMV.
So, how could this have been avoided?
The person responsible for creating/updating the account was apparently an intern. [Eye roll]. If companies aren’t going to take Social Media seriously, they really shouldn’t bother. No presence is better than a poor one. (Note: Social Media is not the same as PR in that apparently all PR is good PR)
Social Media in any organisation should be bigger than just Twitter and Facebook. The following should be considered:
- Governance – to ensure employees aren’t damaging the brand in Social Media
- Customer Care – respond to people that are talking about you
- Retention – keeping hold of your current customers, informing them of things that might be of interest, providing them advice
- Acquisition – attracting new customers
She has nothing to lose
The woman responsible rationalised her actions by claiming she had nothing to lose; no mortgage, no partner, no children. I find myself in the same situation. Am I going to bad mouth my employer if they tick me off? Err, no! Not because I want to protect my career, but because it’s just not the right thing to do. I think this stems from my first point. An intern lacks the understanding of business and maturity to understand that there is a need to act with integrity and while she might be leaving, she should have some gratitude for the opportunity she was given and some respect for the colleagues she leaves behind.
I’ve been made redundant before and it was quite early on in my career. While some elements of the situation were unfair, I did understand the business requirements to shed staff and didn’t bad mouth the company all over the web.
There should have been the correct governance in place
The management didn’t know how to shut down the Social Media channels. This doesn’t surprise me.
As part of the governance process, all passwords should be up to date and retained by an appropriate member of senior staff. I would recommend the Line Manager of the Social Media respondent.
There are also programmes available to provide authorisation for all outgoing messages in Social Media. This functionality is useful when training new staff who are uncertain about responding in the medium, but at times of uncertainty like threat of redundancy, it would be highly advisable to tighten up these controls.
However, I understand that implying that you don’t trust your staff during the redundancy process is probably not preferable, especially when the policy starts with people being ‘at risk’ and they may not necessarily be let go. So, going down the reassurance route might work instead. Talk about redundancy pay, support, references and thank employees for their ongoing hard work. This might reduce the chance of them going rogue.
If this was an intern responding then I guess she really won’t have anything to lose other than perhaps the prospect of future employment. But it it was someone with greater contractual obligations, I would have thought this would have repercussion on the redundancy remuneration.
So there we have. Just a few ideas to protect your brand reputation from similar incidents.