HMV is a music and movie store chain. Remember those? Back in the day there used to be stores you’d physically visit to buy CDs and DVDs, brick-and-mortar locations where you’d peruse band posters and marvel how people once willingly paid $29.99 for a copy of Dude, Where’s My Car or $17.99 for a Coldplay album. Not surprisingly, in the era of digital downloads and instant streaming, the HMV chain isn’t doing so well. The BBC reports 190 jobs were recently cut in HMV’s “head office and distribution network.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that one or more of those layoffs came from the marketing department. Specifically, the social media marketing team.

How am I so sure of that? Call it an educated guess based on these tweets from HMV’s official Twitter account:

The tweets have since been deleted (I guess the Marketing Director finally figured out “how [to] shut down Twitter”–it was probably a big red button that looks like a missile launch command), but the damage has already been done. This is downright embarrassing for HMV. They’re already having to suffer the media scrutiny from having to sack over 150 employees, and now this Twitter faux pas makes it seem as if the company is out of control, social media illiterate, and completely unorganized.

First of all, shame on the Marketing Director for not knowing the company’s Twitter logins or even knowing how to use Twitter. That’s a pretty essential job detail if you’re the friggin’ marketing director for your employer. Secondly, shame on HMV for conducting their firings in such a poor manner. Yes, it’s unprofessional to turn to your company’s social media account to express your dismay and frustrations over getting fired, but as a brand you should expect your employees to feel, oh, I don’t know, less than thrilled upon finding out they’re being let go.

If you plan to fire (or lay off, or whatever euphemistic term you want to use) whoever is controlling or has access to your social media accounts, you need to make sure those logins are changed before you drop the guillotine. Find out what sort of account access or passwords they possess and make sure their access is revoked as soon as possible. That way, an emotional former employee can’t retaliate by using your own brand as ammunition. Of course, you can’t prevent the individual from turning to his or her personal accounts to vent (unless some sort of NDA promising not to disparage the company has been implemented), but at least you can prevent your company’s official accounts from getting hijacked.

For those of you in management positions, it is absolutely crucial to be organized when it comes to accounts and passwords. Ask yourself these questions and run through this checklist to make sure you can act swiftly if your personnel changes:

  • How many people have access to our social media accounts?
  • Who are the employees with access?
  • What is the protocol if an employee quits?
  • What is the protocol if an employee is fired?
  • What is the protocol if several employees are fired?
  • How will we communicate password/account changes to relevant employees?
  • How will we organize the information that gets shared/pushed out from our social accounts if multiple people are managing it (so that nothing is duplicated, inappropriate, or unprofessional)?

You need to have a plan in place for these scenarios, and you need to always be aware of who has access to your social media accounts. Are people who shouldn’t have access able to access them for some reason? Do non-social media marketers know the logins in case an HMV-type situation pops up so quick damage control can be done?

HMV found themselves in an awkward Zynga-like situation where a batch of firings that was intended to be done somewhat quietly ended up blowing up in their faces thanks to ineptitude and a lack of organization. Let this snafu be a lesson to you to always be mindful of what your employees have access to, whether they should even have access in the first place, and how you can revoke that access swiftly if needed.