[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text c_id=”.vc_1587034155267″]The findings of Choice’s recent “Global Outplacement Report’ identified some potential opportunities and challenges associated with the use of social media in managing such change.

Context for the discussion

Earlier this year the British music and entertainment retailer, HMV, was placed in Administration. The Administrators have the responsibility for managing the ongoing trading of the organisation whilst restructuring it to achieve a sale to repay the borrowings and creditors of the organisation.

The Administrators set to work but their restructuring actions sparked a flurry of activity on social media. Unfortunately, no one anticipated the power of social media and the potential brand damage which could result from the comments and observations of departing employees. HMV would have been unable to ‘buy’ the amount of publicity generated. Unfortunately, the negative publicity may have caused significant brand damage resulting in loss of sales and business value.

Similarly, last year Toyota Australia announced 350 redundancies at their Melbourne plant. Despite outlining the process to be employed to ‘select’ those to be made redundant, the implementation of the plan was a public relations disaster with TV news crews ambushing employees as they were informed of their redundancy. Subsequent, newspaper and social media coverage was harsh in its assessment of how Toyota had implemented its plan.

In our opinion, some basic planning in both cases may have limited the negative publicity generated.

Below, you will find some media articles to illustrate the storm that unfolded…

HMV case (The Independent 31/1/13)

HMV faced a mutiny as disgruntled staff took over the struggling retailer’s Twitter account to express their anger at being fired.

Workers at the entertainment store “live blogged” their own sacking on the micro-blogging site as the administrators who took over the business confirmed news of 190 firings.

HMV moved to delete the posts from the @hmvtweets account, which broadcast news of a “mass execution of loyal employees” to 61,500 followers.

However the tweets had already been copied on screen grabs and widely distributed.

The rogue tweeter began: “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!” Another tweet, apparently from an iPhone, reported “60 of us being fired at once”.

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

The insurrection lasted 20 minutes before the company removed the tweets, which began trending with the hashtag, #HMVXFactorFiring.

Later on, more tweets appeared, ap