Recently, social media has become the source for breaking news. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have become platforms for stories to break, as well as for company’s and brands to interact with consumers in a personal, instant setting.
However, what happens when this is used against the company?
In 2013, after experiencing financial difficulty, UK entertainment retailer HMV let go a number of employees, including social media representatives who had access to HMV’s Twitter account.
These social media representatives immediately took control, live tweeting the firing of over 60 employees publically venting their anger, also mentioning that the accounts were set up by an unpaid intern, as well as claiming that HMV was disloyal to its employees.
It took hours before HMV managers gained control of the account.
This situation highlights how important it is to take social media seriously, and to keep control over accounts when a crisis hits.
Posts on social media, especially on sites like Twitter, spread like wildfire and is consequently reported in mainstream media outlets. The situation had the potential to cause damage to HMV’s reputation as a company, as well as distrust from consumers and their employees. In a crisis, it is absolutely essential to try as hard as possible to maintain a trustworthy reputation, even if the crisis was damaging the company initially.
It is also essential to have a clear crisis communication plan that indicates instructions if a crisis, such as the firing of 60 employees, happens. In this plan it is imperative that social media be taken into account, and that passwords to all platforms are quickly available so that they can either be reset immediately, or that statements can be released to the public as efficiently and effectively as possible.
It’s time for HMV to face the music, and start to implement effective social media tactics into their crisis communication plan.