Why I Just Can’t Be Happy About #HMVxFactorFiring

In case you missed it, the UK entertainment chain HMV fired a mass of employees this morning. One of the employees took to their official Twitter account to express her disappointment:

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(Screenshot courtesy Paul Steele: https://twitter.com/thenativepaul/status/296992283457355776/photo/1)

The general tone on Twitter seems to be of approval, of “Hell yeah, you go girl!” and of “HMV got what was coming to them.” The ex-employee behind the tweets was Poppy Powers, who further addressed her concerns on her personal account:

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So this is the situation we seem to have: Poppy was hired two years ago (at 19, if her Twitter bio [screenshot below] is correct) as an intern for HMV. She assumed sole responsibility of the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and by all appearances, managed them very well. A year and a half ago, she was hired on by the company after her internship ended. She sounds very passionate about social media, and worked to educate coworkers and upper management about the importance of serving your customers on social media. All well and good.

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Where it turns not so well and good is when Poppy takes it upon herself to show her former employers the kind of damage that social media can wreak when in the wrong hands. She claimed to have “no other choice” as the company she loved was being ruined. But it seems to me that she wanted to be implicit in the ruination herself. As someone who loved the company so much, to take the power that she held (a microphone to the thousands of customers of HMV) and use that to insult the upper management… well, it seems a bit incongruous to me.

I’ve been in a position similar to Poppy before: a bad situation happened at one of my previous jobs and led to a parting of the ways. I had control over the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. I had actually created the Facebook page, and at the time, creators could not be removed from the page. I could not be removed from the page of a company I was no longer employed at and had left not entirely amicably. I could have done some serious damage. But I loved the company, still… I loved the customers and I loved what the company, at heart, stood for, no matter what my disagreement with upper management. Needless to say, I didn’t touch the accounts that I still had access to, and when I was finally able to remove myself from the Facebook page, I did so as quickly as possible.

One key difference between Poppy and I: I wasn’t a 21 year old who was coming out of (what can be assumed was) the only real job I’d ever had. I can understand having an axe to grind, but I imagine that, if Poppy is lucky enough to continue a career in social media after this (I sure as heck would be afraid to hire her), she’ll soon learn that, in the working world, loving a company means keeping your beef to yourself sometimes. She may have thought that she was making a grand gesture about integrity and love of a brand, but what it seems to me is someone who is very inexperienced retaliating in a very immature manner to a disappointment.

I imagine HMV (and other companies for that matter) will think long and hard before handing over complete control of their image to interns in the future.

(See also: a very good storify of the debacle: http://storify.com/berkson0/hmv-and-twitter-hmvxfactor)

UPDATE Thursday, 9:38pm

After tweeting this story, one of the other former members of the HMV team responded with this information:

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While I agree that, as a social media manager, having your hands tied for two weeks is a huge hinderance upon your job and the brand you’re representing, I still don’t think that what Poppy did was right, whether she created those accounts or not. What you create on behalf of a company is the property of that company… that’s in pretty much every contract you sign.

As for this giving them reason to think social is important and to reconsider cutting it, look at it from another perspective… this is a fiasco that has blown up in their faces. Many companies are afraid to get into social because they feel they can’t control the message. Poppy has just proved their fears right and possibly shied them away from letting someone else have that much control over their brand image again. If social continues at HMV, I’m willing to bet it will be sanitized, controlled, approved, and as far from connected to the customer as you can get.