As you may well have seen, the Plough Pub in Oxford fired their head chef over the weekend. What they forgot, though, was that he had the password to their Twitter account (@PloughPub), and decided to vent his frustration, while trashing his former employer’s reputation in the process.
You can find a screen cap of the tweets below – though at the time of writing they are still up online.
So what can companies learn from this situation when it comes to social media? Firstly, if you have any form of social media account, make sure that management have ownership of the password.
While getting other staff members to generate the content on the account is fine, it is vital that they are not given free reign to do as they like – it’s part of the brand, and is as important as any other part of the company’s marketing or customer service operation, even if the company in question is a pub.
Also, think things through properly when establishing your social media presence. In this case, it would appear that The Plough have set up their twitter account but not had a clear idea who would be running it, how it would be structured and who was accountable. Now, this might be incorrect, but that is how it appears – and perception is, in cases like this, vital.
Now, no one likes to talk about firing people. But if, as a business, that change needs to be made then part of the process ought to be to get them to turn over any passwords or company-related accounts – much like when people clear out their desks they don’t take the company’s computer or chair with them.
From the former employee’s point of view, getting some payback if you feel you’ve been wrongly terminated is a perfectly natural reaction. The fact that no one in a management position at The Plough considered that this could happen shows that they didn’t have authority and ownership of their social media, and it has come back to bite them.