Yesterday saw an excellent example of when a brand’s social media goes very, very wrong. An HMV employee, who had access to the company Twitter account, began to Tweet about the mass sackings that were going on that day in wake of HMVs bankruptcy:
HMV clearly had not thought through potential implications of firing team members who had access to the company Twitter account nor the procedures in place to deal with the crisis as it arose. HMV hurried to delete the offending tweets, but not before an ex-employee shared that they overheard the Marketing Director asking ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’ Perhaps this mishap proves that HMV didn’t understand the important and influence a social presence can have.
An important lesson from this is the speed at which these tweets went viral. Despite how quickly HMV removed the offending articles they had still been screen grabbed by hundreds of people on Twitter who watched the meltdown in progress. These screen-grabs, along with the hashtag #hmvxfactorfiring, meant that within hours the hashtag was trending and millions of people could see what was happening to the employees at HMV.
HMV did try some damage control by sending out these messages:
Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and it was a case of too little, too late. These events once again highlight the importance of social media for brands and how instrumental it can be in bad PR. It is vital that training and protocol for dealing with a crisis is in place, as well as for all staff, regardless of seniority, to have a good understanding of social media. Not every embarrassing social media crisis can be avoided but the damage to the brand can be minimized.