When employees go rogue on company Facebook account

When employees go rogue on company Facebook account

What happens when the very people responsible for protecting and enhancing your brand on social media go rogue? RadioShack found out the hard way.

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Warning

The F-bomb is strewn liberally through the following post. This swearing appears to be the result of a Radio Shack (ex)employee who retains control of the company's Facebook business account.

What happens when the very people responsible for protecting and enhancing your brand on social media go rogue? When, like fledgling Lex Luthor's, they use their online powers to turn against you?

RadioShack learned the answer to these questions recently when the US electrical and electronics retailer management made the decision to close one of its branches in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

"We closed. Fuck all of you" ran one post on a Facebook page claiming to be that of the Reynoldsburg shop. Perhaps in response to a request by management to let customers know the branch was closing.

The candid Facebook message has been shared 26.3k times. It’s been liked 32k times and attracted 6.3k comments.

This post was followed up the following day with: "Always hated you prick customers anyway" which earned 10k likes, 6k shares and almost 2k comments.

It wasn't just customers who came under fire. The Radio Shack management were also firmly within the crosshairs of the Facebook warrior. "The management kept telling me there would be a "bonus" if I stayed till the end. Havent [sic] seen that money. What's up? Fucking liars!"

Accusations of price fixing followed shortly afterwards: "1 week before they told me the store was closing, they has [sic] us jack up ALL the prices before 'discounting' them. Is that legal?"

The Facebook page's profile image was updated. The encircled letter R of the RadioShack logo being joined by the letters I and P to make RIP.

The cover photo, was changed, too, altered to a night time photograph of the store front with several letters of RadioShack being blackened out to reveal the word: 'adios'.

Some thought the Facebook posts were a joke. One reader, Gregory Giagnocavo, asked the page's administrator: “Did you actually send an FU message? It’s been posted around on fb [sic].” A question which garnered the terse response: “Fuck you” under the hashtag #fuckyou.

Closing down branches

​In early March, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy for the second time in as many years. Like many predominantly bricks-and-mortar enterprises the electrical and electronics retailer has struggled to keep up with the shift into a largely online, price-sensitive marketplace.

RadioShack announced in mid-March that its Reynoldsburg, outlet would be one of the 552 stores to close.

Fake Facebook page?

It is possible that the Facebook trolling of RadioShack is an elaborate hoax:

  • The Facebook page was only created in early April - after redundancies were announced
  • Only a few posts were uploaded before the outbursts
  • The Reynoldsburg account isn't verified on Facebook

​Whether the account is real or fake is irrelevant. The company-negative posts have generated tens of thousands of online interactions in the form of likes, shares and comments. None of which will have a positive reflection on the company.

HMV redundancies tweeted live

RadioShack is not the only firm to be on the receiving end of employees taking over corporate social media platforms. In 2012 disgruntled HMV employees briefly took over the company's official Twitter account to demonstrate their extreme displeasure at being sacked by the UK music retailer.

“We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring” read the first tweet quickly followed by:

"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 #hmvXFactorFiring."

These tweets were followed up with:"Just overhead our Marketing Director (he's staying, folks) ask How do I shut down Twitter?#hmvXFactorFiring".

And, once the Marketing Director had finally regained control of the Twitter account he made a social age cardinal error and deleted the offending tweets. By then the damage had been done. The tweets had been seen by many of the company's 62.5k followers. Screenshots were being shared on Reddit. Deleting the tweets is as good as holding your hands up and admitting you have something to hide. 

No business owner wants to lose control of their social media profiles. Here are a few steps to undertake to prevent it from happening - and to limit exposure if it does.

Checklist: reducing risk of employee takeover

No business owner wants to lose control of their social media profiles. Here are a few steps to undertake to prevent it from happening - and to limit exposure if it does.

  • Make sure you hire the right employees in the first place
  • Treat your employees with respect, especially in the eventuality of redundancy
  • Ensure there is a social media policy in place
  • Verify your social media pages
  • Know who has access to your firm's social media accounts - and how to control changing passwords
  • Put a system in place to regular monitor your firm's name, brand names and other key words on social media
  • Be prepared to take swift and public action
  • If you suspect a fake social media page has been set up report it

About the Author Scott Guthrie

Scott Guthrie works with companies to drive business growth in the social age through strategic insight and technical know-how. That’s not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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