Friday Tweet Gets Social-Media Pro Fired

Stories of employees who get fired for exercising poor judgment in their use of social media constantly make the news.  There are too many to report, really.  But some can serve as valuable lessons, thereby warranting a bit of special attention.  Here’s one such story, reported by My Fox Philly.comtwitter icon rounded square

Vanessa Williams was a social-media specialist with an economic development agency in Bethlehem, Pa.  That was, at least, until Friday, when she posted the following on the company’s official Twitter account:

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?

Her (former) employer, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., is funded partly with tax revenue and is charged with helping bring business to the area.  Another user responded to the tweet and asked if economic development wouldn’t be better served by having the agency’s staff stay at work and off the links on Fridays. 

I suppose the lesson here, like the lesson in so many of these stories, is to never assume that you’re “too smart” or “too experienced with social media” to make a mistake or have a lapse in judgment.  The casual nature that makes social media such an attractive form of communication is exactly what can make it so risky to use. In short, the moral of the story is to tweet with caution

4 thoughts on “Friday Tweet Gets Social-Media Pro Fired

  1. The real lapse in judgement was made by the supervisor who approved “summer hours” for a taxpayer-funded agency, not the social media professional who publicized it in the context of a professional tweet designed to spark conversation. Were summer hours supposed to be kept secret? What about organizational transparency? I hope Ms. Williams finds a new position soon. Perhaps she could work for the Sunlight Foundation instead.


  2. I’m guessing no one at this employer told staff that summer hours were “hush hush.” An unfortunate incident all around – I wonder if they had a social media policy?


  3. I think the lesson is that when companies choose to engage in social media and go so far as to hire an “expert” that they need to create a social media charter that fully outlines the business objectives, branding objectives, voice, persona etc… that help the social media implementation to stay in line with company objectives. I think the company is equally at fault for not having developed the business rules behind their twitter usage and this employee – who should have probably asked – was left without clear direction – and now a job.


  4. Very interesting. I would love to know a couple of more stories like this. We should all pay attention to what we say on social media sites. Social media is a double edge sword.


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