As good as social media’s been for Best Buy (see: @Twelpforce, a continued success), they’re fast finding out how real things can get when their internal policies don’t line up with their ostensibly progressive, tech-conscious reputation. We’re talking about an employee of theirs, who since being pressured into quitting his job over a couple measly, unbranded YouTube videos, has hit back with a new video roasting the retailer in a similarly anonymous fashion. If consumers can control brands these days, then employees can bring them to their knees.
Brian Maupin, the now-former Best Buy employee in question made a number of mostly harmless tech-related YouTube videos during his tenure—all credited to Tiny Watch Productions. “iPhone4 vs. HTC Evo,” the most popular of his video rants, is a profanity-laden clip about customers hopelessly biased towards Apple’s smartphone. It’s racked up nearly 6 million views. And it, mind you, contains no trace of Best Buy or his employment at one of their stores. Here, just watch (kids: earmuffs):
In a move that’s became a a PR disaster, Best Buy traced his name to the account and more or less fired him. Bad move on their part. They should have found a way to capitalize on the content and leveraged their employee’s newfound audience. Or just kept quiet. Instead, they inspired Maupin to produce this:
Does this mean employees should consider themselves constantly “on the clock,” as far as social media is concerned? Of course not. Consider this a case study on the new age of highly advanced, hyper-connected employees. TweetFired shows that while Best Buy has a handle on new media, they’re too quick to overreact to potentially troublesome internal-turned-external social media problems. Being overly cautious (read: fascist) can certainly have its consequences. In this horizontal media landscape, intolerant, ham-fisted rule like this brings about it’s own destruction.
In the end, though, how popular will Brian’s video revenge really be? (Over the course of just seven days, it has accumulated 54,000 plays.) Is this a palpable blow to the store’s reputation? What should Best Buy do to save face?