Organisations don’t tweet, people do

Following on from the HMV tweets story I wrote yesterday, I was reminded of the book ‘Organisations don’t tweet, people do.’ I asked its author, Euan Semple, to share his view via my blog, which he has kindly done. I first met him four years ago and enjoy reading his thoughts on all things social, particularly via his blog. Over to you Euan…

The story of #hmvXFactorFiring is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that an organisation has been caught out by the power of social media. What happened to HMV could happen to anyone. When you ask a member of staff, often someone junior in status if not in years, to tweet on behalf of your whole organisation, you are effectively handing them a loaded gun. In extreme circumstances they will turn it on you.

But as with most high profile social media incidents the issue isn’t with the social tools, they are the symptom not the cause. The issue is always deeper and more interesting. Given the amount of change HMV are going through at the moment their challenges as a management team must be considerable.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t do what they have to do in such a way as to take staff with them. No matter how difficult the situation, if you have managed staff well, been honest with them, kept them informed, and dealt with them with integrity, then they will know you are doing what has to be done and understand that.

This has always been the case but the web will hold you to a higher standard.

Yes an individual who lets rip on the web may be unreasonable, yes they may be acting hastily, yes they may not be thinking of the full consequences of their actions – both for you and for them – but we will decide that. If you understand this connected world, have embraced it, used it inside your organisation as well as outside, you will be able to work out quickly what is happening and then respond appropriately and honestly.

We will see this – and make our own judgements. If you have done the right thing we will applaud you. Try to shut things down and keep the lid on bad news…

Post author: Euan Semple

Thank you Euan, want to comment on what you’ve read? Tweet him @euan, me @AllthingsIC or you’re welcome to comment below, Rachel


  1. Paul Thomas says:

    A voice of reason. Yes – very much agree.

    I had an email from a social media mediation software vendor today. It talked about the HMV “Fiasco”, and made the point that managers should have control of social media channels – a thinly veiled attempt at selling us something that can ‘help’.

    There’s a duty of care here. I talk to senior leaders all the time selling the benefits of social media. They in turn tell me their concerns and somewhere in the middle, we agree on a way do things to suit the business and to suit them.

    It means they’re informed and so am I. If things go wrong, there shouldn’t be any surprise on either side, just fast agreement on how we react to it.

    But then HMV failed to react to technology changes in the music industry too and that led to their first set of problems!

  2. Tony Stewart says:

    I’m still surprised how many people still trot out the ‘b2c’ and ‘b2b’ labels. You don’t speak to businesses, you don’t speak to consumers… you speak to humans. Every time.

    h2h people. h2h. 🙂

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