Twitter misadventure at H&R Block

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Social Media  |  Twitter  |  Case Studies

Hrblock What happens when an employee goes rogue on a social networking site? It happened at H&R Block, a company actively communicating on social networks since 2007. The tax-preparation specialist has a Social-Media Policy in place and launched a social-media outreach team in the 2009 tax season.

The morning after Tax Day in the U.S. - April 15, 2010 – a call center employee who is active in social media using the name Kid Fury decided to have a bit of fun. He went on Twitter and "told all you wonderful people who follow me to call in and ask for Kid Fury." As Kid Fury explains in his amazing video, "It pretty much went all downhill from there. It was not a good idea."

Watch the video, Kid Fury does an amazing job explaining the situation.

The H&R Block side of the situation

"Our Client Services organization, with guidance from our Social Media Team, are actively responding to customer service questions, issues, and comments via Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites," Zena Weist, director, social media at H&R Block told me.

"What Kid Fury didn't realize was the impact of his tweets. People searching online for H&R Block help came across his 'just for fun' tweets in their search results."

Because Weist and her social-media team actively monitor tax-related comments online, they knew the moment he began posting. "We had a team monitoring and responding to customer-service inquiries on social networks," she says. "Within 10 minutes, our social-media outreach team had identified and contacted him and his manager. About an hour later, he had deleted his tweets."

That afternoon Weist quickly sent an email to all H&R Block associates. It explained that the social-media team was actively listening online; how the client-service outreach team was handling online inquiries; and how all this affected the associates.

When One of the Flock Strays

An important aspect of having real-time communications guidelines in place is making certain that employees know about the guidelines, understand them, and follow them.

When somebody strays, like Kid Fury at H&R Block, it is critical to follow up immediately like Weist did.

In this case, it was a mistake with no malice involved. Kid Fury apologized and important lessons were learned by all involved. However, in more severe cases, your HR people may need to get involved and disciplinary action taken as required.