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Getting your business on social media is incredibly important for promotion and engagement with your audience. However, sometimes it can go wrong.

Making sure you have clear staff social media policies in place should ensure that your tweets and Facebook posts stay on message and don’t open your business up to negative press or criticism. But sometimes, unsupervised and unloved staff have been known to vent their frustrations in a very public manner. Here are some of the worst examples of what happens when your social media account comes back to bite.

HMV: The beleaguered music seller was forced to make 190 people redundant, however one of those people was clearly the one in charge of the Twitter account. The official HMV Twitter account this week read:

“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. #hmvXFactorFiring.”

“Sorry we’ve been quiet for so long. Under contract, we’ve been unable to say a word, or – more importantly – tell the truth.”

Soon enough, head office realised what was happening and took over the account, saying “One of our departing colleagues was understandably upset. We’re still here thou, thx for supporting hmv thro these challenging times”

Microsoft:  One Microsoft employee, apparently believing that they were tweeting from their personal account, took a very public stab at Anne Coulter on Twitter through the Microsoft account. This seems to be a recurring issue, with Vodafone UK and the Red Cross also falling victim to the problem. (The Red Cross handled it with a genius stroke of PR however). The lesson to learn from this is to ensure that whoever is in charge of your Twitter accounts keeps their own very separate on their devices.

Kayser: Letting an intern take over the social media accounts might seem like a good idea when you’re busy, but sometimes a bit of forethought, or ensuring that staff are properly instructed and supervised, can save you heartache. This isn’t what happened when Kayser let an intern take over their #KayserMaleInsider hashtag and the intern tweeted “If a guy invites you over to watch a movie, you should know what they’re expecting.” Outrage ensued on Twitter, Facebook and news sites, consumed by the assumption that the tweet implies that women should assume if they go to a man’s house for a movie they will end up (do we need to spell it out?). As a result Kayser apologised and have now said they’d donate a portion of their profits to White Ribbon which aims to prevent violence against women.

Kenneth Cole: The shoe company owner himself took to Twitter to promote a new range but, in poor taste, used the wrong trending hashtag to try to get traction on the social media platform. In the midst of the Egypt revolution, Cole used the hastag #Cairo to try to promote his company. The immediate backlash prompted Cole to delete the tweet and make an apology.

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Rhiannon Sawyer

Rhiannon Sawyer

[NB: Rhiannon Sawyer no longer works for Dynamic Business]. Rhiannon Sawyer is the editor for Dynamic Business online. She also looks after online content for Dynamic Export. She loves writing business profiles and is fascinated by the growing world of homegrown online businesses and how so many people can make money in their pyjamas.

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