This week a music retailer in Britain – HMV – laid off a huge swath of workers… including a woman named Poppy Cleere, who started as an intern at HMV more than two years ago. While an intern, HMV made her responsible for all of their social media accounts, and as she sat in the meeting with 60 other HMV employees learning they were all being fired, she tweeted the “mass execution” via HMV’s official Twitter stream.
There was a lot of kerfuffle on the internet about her use of the official HMV profiles for this, their cluelessness about social media, and many articles were written. People pointed and made fun of HMV in their role as the Emperor, as he stumbled around looking for his pants.
Poppy says she had spent the last two years trying to get HMV’s management to understand the power and effectiveness of social media. They patted her sweetly on the head and sent her back to her cubicle, where she continued to diligently do her job.
Now, due to her honesty and humanity during the firings, and her unbridled passion for HMV as a business, she has an enormous amount of social capital. She is a real person who is passionate about the company, and who expressed an important opinion in a time of crisis. So people now respect her and are following her story.
If HMV had even the faintest clue about how the internet – or the music industry! – works today, they would hire Poppy back immediately, give her a budget, and carte blanche to express her passion via the official company social media profiles.
In a short amount of time people would look to Poppy for ideas, inspiration, etc. For example, she may hear a new band that she totally loves, and talks honestly and open about how much she loves the band.
And guess what? HMV is a music retailer. People would buy their product because Poppy – someone they trusted, and who had earned social capital – said so.
We are fed a constant line of BS and double-speak from almost every single “official” we ever hear from. We yearn to hear a real opinion from a real person. We don’t want the marketing department to polish their social media staff’s tongues with shoe polish before they speak to us. We want to hear from people who honestly give a shit.
I want to coin a word here: Genuinity. The act of being genuine. Poppy is genuine, and HMV is not. She now has the power in the relationship. If HMV wants to ever be seen as genuine again, their only real option is to hire Poppy, give her room, and let her cred rub off on them.
But we know they won’t.
Because HMV doesn’t get it.