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What lessons can be learnt from HMV’s social media disaster?

Last week, a departing HMV employee took to the company’s Twitter account to express her views on the job cuts. Her tweets included:

– ‘Sorry we’ve been quiet for so long. Under contract, we’ve been unable to say a word, or – more importantly – tell the truth’

– ‘There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand’

‘Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?”’

The individual responsible, who was a former intern in charge of HMV’s social media, later tweeted from her personal Twitter account:

‘I would apologise for the #hmvXFactorFiring tweets but I felt like someone had to speak. As someone without a family to support/no mortgage I felt that I was the safest person to do so. Not to mention, I wanted to show the power of social media to those who refused to be educated.’

It’s clear that the power of social media has definitely been shown. Platforms such as Twitter can be extremely useful when it comes to building a brand and engaging with an audience. But that can all be destroyed with only a few tweets as negative messages are out there for all to see.

The incident also raised an interesting issue over who should be responsible for social media. In this case, the individual started operating the HMV Twitter account over two years ago when she was an intern. And, judging by her tweets, it’s clear that senior figures had little understanding when it came to online networks. As a result, it took 30 minutes for the HMV Twitter account to be ‘shut down’. By that time the damage had already been done and, although the tweets were deleted, followers had already seen them and retweeted them.

As social media becomes more and more prominent for businesses, it’s important to have a crisis plan in place and ensure that all employees – regardless of age or seniority – have an understanding of the channels. An online presence can be extremely valuable, but HMV has shown that it can also be hugely detrimental, and it isn’t something that can simply be left to the younger generation to manage.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know by commenting below.


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