Small businesses have been warned yet again to keep a closer eye on how they manage their social media accounts, after a disgruntled employee of collapsed music retail chain HMV hijacked the company’s Twitter account and started live-tweeting about mass lay-offs.
The incident follows a troublesome month for the music retailer – it announced last month the company would be placed in administration.
James Griffin, the head of social reputation management group SR7, told SmartCompany the incident is yet another reminder businesses need to keep their social media programs under control.
“Obviously the preventative steps still apply, so you have to make sure you have a policy in the beginning, clearly outlining where ownership of the accounts lie.”
“This has been a pretty longstanding issue, and it’s a question that has plagued a lot of organisations.”
The employee who hijacked the account let its 60,000 followers know of what was happening, saying: “we’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!”
“There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand,” it said, followed by a more humorous, “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?'”.
A separate statement from Deloitte, the administrator, confirmed 150 layoffs had taken place.
Griffin says the incident shows why a clear policy needs to be in place outlining who has access to the social media accounts, and for what purpose.
“You need to make sure the passwords for various social media accounts don’t just exist with one person, so you can go and change the password, or disable the account.”
“This whole incident also raises the issue of whether it’s better to do your social media in house or to outsource – there are a lot of things to consider.”
While some companies tend to dismiss having social media outsourced, this incident might not have occurred if a third party was tweeting for HMV instead of the marketing department, or a dedicated social media officer.
Griffin says the hijacking is a good reminder for small businesses about how they go about using their social media. Even if the person in charge would never make inappropriate tweets, it’s always good to keep the possibility in mind.
“It’s like giving someone access to a billboard – you’re allowing them to put up whatever they want.”
This story first appeared on SmartCompany.