Yup, the Layoff got Twittered

By guest contributor Karen Masullo, EVP Social Media for Firestorm and former outplacement industry executive

When UK Entertainment retailer HMV made the tough decision to downsize a total of 190 employees earlier this year, they did not anticipate that their brand would go viral.

“We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!” read a message sent out over @hmvtweets.


“There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand” read another.

As detailed in news websites from the National Post to Business Week, HMV company officials did not realize what was happening nearly as fast as the Internet did.

“Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’”

The offending tweets were only online for a few minutes, but not before they went viral. #hmvXFactorFiring showed up on Twitter’s trending topics list almost immediately, with users helpfully sending out screen grabs of the messages.

Once the story started spreading, Twitter user “Poppy Rose” proudly took responsibility for the rogue tweets.

“Just to set something straight, I did not ‘hijack’ the hmv twitter account. I actually assumed sole responsibility of Twitter & Facebook over two years ago, as an intern,” she said on Twitter. “When asked (this afternoon), I gladly provided the password to head office.”

I beg to differ with the former employee.  They did indeed hijack (or Gazopt) the account.

  • How do you know when your company and brand have been gazopted?
  • What are the risks?
  • Why monitor social media risk?
  • What is social media risk monitoring?
  • How do you monitor social media risk?
  • Why is it more than just Google®?
  • How do you mitigate social media risk?

As we analyze an event, we assign a Crisis Index Rating based upon data analysis via our monitoring approach and tools.

Via this data, the images below demonstrate the incredible power of viral messaging in only a ten minute period.

11:10 AM Eastern


11:20 AM Eastern


Overall, there were thousands of Tweets, and hundreds of news articles, posts and other social activity.

The HMV employee who used the company’s official Twitter feed to expose details of mass firings was inundated with job offers after she was sacked, it emerged in an article from The Standard.


As I have said before, it is no longer enough to think of all media as solely another medium to market your business. In fact, the failure to monitor social media may mean the end of your organization.

Incorporating social media monitoring into your day-to-day practice is necessary to protect both your organization and its clients. And it is OWNED by EVERYONE.

In 2009, I wrote an article titled The Layoff Will be Twittered. As I stated then:

“Social media has created an environment in which previously minor leaks in your organization become flooded pipelines.
We also know that a botched layoff can damage a company’s brand. A study from 2001 between (then) Andersen and The Vault examined attitudes of 1,200 former employees. “We fully expected them to be unhappy,” stated a source in (then) Andersen’s human capital practice. “But what was stunning to us was the amount of documented carelessness that some of these people had been exposed to as part of the layoff practice.”

This was before the aggressive emergence of applications that further erase the confidentiality line – tools today are about transparency.

If you make a mistake today, millions of people may hear about it, not within days, but within minutes (if not seconds).”

My original comments are from almost five years ago, and businesses today are still making the same mistakes, taking the same risks, or denying that risk exists.

The Attributes of a Crisis or Disaster

  • Escalating Flow of Events
  • Insufficient  & Inaccurate Information
  • Intense Scrutiny
  • Loss of Command and Control
  • Surprise
  • How you respond can create a second crisis

Coupling a poorly planned, challenging restructuring project with instantaneous messaging to the WORLD, over which you have little or no control is a recipe for disaster.

Handled improperly, communications will make a challenging restructuring project worse, and can damage an organization’s reputation and its bottom line. Each layoff is unique, and the communications plan associated with it will, and should, vary. What remains constant is the importance of developing and implementing a sound plan.

More recently, employees at a Winter Park restaurant said they all lost their jobs with no notice, and what made them even more angry is they got fired through a text message.

The FACET Group views career transition and management consulting as a process in which program participants must truly balance career planning to succeed. Social media training is one part of a larger process, but one we find exceptionally important both in separation event training for the sponsoring company and for those directly effected by a reorganization event.

Let us help you avoid crises like the aforementioned.  It’s what we do.  Contact us:  888-868-8973


About facet
FACET is a human resources consulting firm specializing in the four phases of the Talent Management Cycle: Attract, Retain, Develop, and Transition. The Group's practice specifically addresses facilitation of smooth career/life transitions for individuals leaving organizations as well as career management, leadership training and coaching for employees whose assignments within organizations are impacted by change or other organizational needs. By application of several directions of pursuit, the corporation accomplishes a single goal: maximum utilization of human resource potential and productivity through efficient hiring, training and career development. The Facet Group was founded in 1981 and is headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana. As an ARBORA GLOBAL PARTNER, The Facet Group shares a parallel philosophy of the highest quality and standards with other owner invested firms. Through this network, we provide services worldwide. To address organizational needs outlined by its clients, The Facet Group offers a comprehensive package of workplace consulting services, focusing on providing high quality, creative programs which favorably impact the bottom line.

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