After announcing 190 job losses yesterday, British entertainment retail company hmv learned important lessons regarding social media and crisis communication. One employee with access to the @hmvtweets Twitter account tweeted play-by-plays of the layoffs not just from her personal account of @poppy_powers, but from the hmv corporate account itself.
Her first tweet set the stage, “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring.” Later she highlighted how easy it was for her to execute the tweets and more disturbingly, why the tweets stayed up on the account for hours allowing the story to spread like wildfire, “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?” #hmvXFactorFiring.”
Shut down Twitter? Nothing says “unprepared” like that sentence. When a social media crisis appears you should leverage Twitter to mitigate the damage. Acknowledge the situation to your followers and clearly communicate what will happen next. Don’t place blame or act like nothing happened.
This story isn’t just about having more than one social media community manager in place for your accounts as back-up, it’s about appreciating the influence of social media. Social media isn’t just a component of the marketing mix every company should have in place ‘because our competitor is doing it.’ Social media is a valuable tool that can be used to generate real relationships with current and potential customers. And when everyone in your organization understands that, a strong social media identity can take shape that represents the true essence of your company.
Poppy said it perfectly on her own account when explaining her actions, “I hoped that today’s actions would finally show them the true power and importance of Social Media, and I hope they’re listening.”
I too hope many companies listen and learn from this, Poppy.