HMV followers treated to a live play-by-play of downsizing on U.K. company’s official Twitter feed
By Todd Humber
“We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!”
Sound like a nightmare? Then feel some sorrow for your colleagues in human resources at HMV’s operations in the United Kingdom, because that tweet went out from the company’s official twitter account.
Which leads to this week’s memo to HR: If you’re going to terminate the employment of the person in charge of your social media accounts, it’s probably a good idea to deactivate her access first.
Last week, British music retailer HMV announced about 190 layoffs, most of them at the company’s head office. (HMV’s Canadian operations are run by a separate company.)
Followers of HMV’s official Twitter feed — @HMVtweets — were treated to a live play-by-play of the downsizing via tweets sent out by an employee who was getting the axe.
“There are over 60 of us who are being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand” read one tweet.
Another tweet announced — and this is kind of funny, though HR is more likely to cringe than laugh — “Just overheard the Marketing Director … ask, ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’”
The tweets were later deleted.
Someone named Poppy Rose, using the personal Twitter handle of @poppy_powers, has stepped forward claiming to be the source of the tweets. On her own personal account, she tweeted the following:
“I would apologise for the… tweets but I felt like someone had to speak. As someone without a family to support/no mortgage I felt 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.”
She then said she “should probably go and hide for a while.”
After that, she posted one more tweet — directed to @HMVtweets — that read: “You need to go to ‘settings’ and revoke my account access as an admin. I’m still able to switch between accounts.”
At the time of writing, Poppy had about 3,500 followers while HMV’s official channel had nearly 74,000.
HMV’s official account acknowledged the kerfuffle with three posts on Jan. 31. The first read:
“Our… tweets picked up a lot of attention today, it’s clearly been a tough day for us all at hmv, please stick with us.”
The second read:
“There have been job losses today, but not in our stores. We are still open for business, thx for your continued support.”
And the last read:
“One of our departing colleagues was understandably upset. We’re still here tho, thx for supporting hmv thro these challenging times.”
There have been no further posts from HMV or Poppy since Jan. 31, at least as of the morning of Feb. 5.
Many organizations struggle with what, exactly, to do with social media and how to ensure it is used to build communities that help the business. Technology, including smartphones, makes it very easy for employees in charge of accounts to send messages out to customers on a moment’s notice.
That’s something employers need to keep in mind when contemplating a downsizing, especially one that includes the person in charge of social media efforts.
There are a lot of I’s to dot and T’s to cross on the to-do list when ending an employment relationship. But ensuring an employee isn’t able to live tweet it to your customers as it happens should be pretty close to the top. Employers need to keep an inventory of social media accounts, passwords and who has access.
Because no organization wants to see “we’re tweeting live from HR” on its Twitter feed.
Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hrreporter.com for more information.