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June 9, 2011

Over-reaction? Gone-golfing tweet leads to social media worker's firing

It's not as titillating as Congressman Anthony Weiner's tweet saga, but a social media specialist's tweet about workers at a Lehigh Valley economic development agency leaving work early to play golf was deemed inappropriate enough to lead to her firing.

According to the Morning Call newspaper, the offending tweet from the Lehigh Valley Ecoonomic Development Corp.'s official Twitter account was: "We start summer hours today. That means most of the staff leave at noon, many to hit the links. Do you observe summer hours? What do you do?"

That was enough for Vanessa Williams, a newly employed social media specialist, to lose her job.

The agency head quickly told the local newspaper that the policy was for people to leave early on Friday only if they had worked their 40 hours for the week. The tweet was sent out last Friday and the head said no one left early that day, according to the Morning Call.

Do you think Williams' firing was appropriate or an over-reaction? If there was clarification needed -- i.e. something like: "actually, no one left early today but sometimes, when they do, they choose to go golfing after working their full 40 hours" --- why couldn't that have been accomplished in follow-up tweets without firing this person?

And yes, actually, I think it is a good thing for an economic development agency to know if its local companies have a practice of adopting summer hours. So I can see where the social media specialist may have thought she was doing a good thing to understand how local businesses were approaching the topic of summer hours.

Here's the problem, I think: too many companies and agencies are jumping onto social media without thinking through the ramifications. And they're using a hammer in touchy circumstances, when a soft touch would suffice.

What do you think?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:46 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: *NEWS*, Social Media
        

Comments

This is what happens when businesses hire "social media specialists" to remake their horribly boring, largely ignored Twitter accounts. Charged with the task of driving up the number of followers, these workers desperately try to bring life to stale tweets by being funny. Of course, the problem is that the firms for whom they work generally have no sense of humor (or else they wouldn't have needed to hire a "social media specialist" to begin with). I just hope that the Lehigh Valley Ecoonomic Development Corp. has learned its lesson and doesn't hire another "social media specialist" for this impossible and thankless job.

Depending on the company's official social media guidelines he reaction of Ms. Williams' employers may have been justified.
Does the company have official guidelines and did Ms. Williams know of them?
If her tweet was interpreted as displaying a negative image of the company, or exposing a confidential fact, and if these offenses were clearly outlined in the company's guidelines, and she knew about them, then, her firing should have come as no surprise.
If she was unaware of the policy, then a warning should have sufficed.
Busineses must have clear policies about what employees can and cannot post in social forums.

Oh my, this is a complete over-reaction. I wish all companies would have twitter accounts and tweet out something like "Leaving early for the day to spend some time with the family" or something of the like so I know I'll have to wait to do business with them.

That's much better than wasting my time driving to the place of business, only to find it closed up for the day.

Where is this lady? I'm hiring her! Haha.

While I think this is an over reaction, I agree with you that companies do not realize how damaging one Tweet or Facebook post can be.

As well, social media mangers are being hired just because they know who to maintain social media sites... as opposed to the need for traditional marketing experience where everything is carefully thought out before news or a simple marketing campaign is rolled out to the masses.

who are they sleeping with?
what bars to they go to?
do they ever say bad things about the boss?
if you have a twitter account you should tell me everything now, now ,now!
otherwise don't tweet

Are you kidding me? The company has summer hours. She tweeted that staff take advantage of something they are offered.

If anything, management should be fired for making a big deal out of nothing.

This sounds like a soul-less corporate environment. She is lucky she will not have to work there anymore.

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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