In January of 2013, HMV endured a little humiliation in order to fully understand the importance of social media. The company, which had been enduring economic hardships as a result of more and more people getting their music online, was dealt another blow at the hands of the internet when they fired an employee who had access to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The issue was made public when the employee, who was later identified as Twitter user Poppy Rose, began live tweeting the lay-off of herself and what she stated to be “over 60 other HMV employee’s.” Ms. Rose began her public humiliation of HMV with a sarcastically shot off “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fire! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring.” As a savy social media user, Poppy continued the same hashtag throughout all of her live tweets about the firing, and it wasn’t long until the hashtag was trending on Twitter. To make matters worse, while the disgruntled Poppy still had control of HMV’s Twitter she shared that she, “Just overheard [HMV’s] Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’”
While the tweets were taken down shortly after they were posted, the hashtag had allowed the prior messages to be easily grouped and many twitter users had already taken screenshots and were sharing the content. Despite the fact that the outburst had garnered international attention, HMV declined to comment on the Twitter scandal, and instead only addressed the necessity of the employee lay-offs. In my opinion, that’s just too little, too late in relation to crisis control – once everyone has already seen your dirty laundry, they may as well see you clean it too.
The lesson to be learned from HMV is a simple one, ensure you have someone with the company’s best interests at the control of your social media, and if that’s about to change, make sure you change the passwords while they’re still on your side.