How did Harvey Norman get it so wrong?

By Gwen Tan

When we were looking for brands who haven’t done a good job at community management, Harvey Norman wasn’t on our radar until recently. 

To give you a little background story, the company came under fire in May after its founder, Gerry Harvey, revealed the business would not return $22 million in taxpayer-paid JobKeeper funds. That’s despite making 116% more in company profits during the pandemic, which equates to around $462 million. Not only did the company not pay staff wages from said earnings, it is believed Harvey Norman was also pushing for a minimum wage freeze instead. 

Understandably, the news triggered employee protests, which happened outside of Harvey Norman stores all across the country. Well… who wouldn’t be? 

Alright, now you’re up to speed.

The incident got many people voicing their opinions on Twitter. Now, if you think how things can go further down south from that, let’s just say what Harvey Norman did next certainly takes the cake.

To start with, the company claimed that the Twitter account is “unmanned”. However, they were still replying to posts over the weekend, mocking Twitter users who criticised the brand. It’s one thing for a brand to be sassy, but *whoever* was monitoring their Twitter account definitely needed an intervention.

Take this tweet for instance. A former employee said that they were driven to suicide by working conditions there… and look how they’ve responded. That is not okay. 

The #BoycottHarveyNorman hashtag has been floating around Twitter for a while but things escalated a lot quicker during this saga. In a funny twist, it almost seemed like Harvey Norman was actually boycotting their followers instead – by blocking them, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Tasmanian Times and politicians. 

Now if your Twitter page looks like this when you go to @harveynormanAU, that’s normal. Because they ended up blocking everyone in Australia. 

This isn’t the first time Harvey Norman has done or posted something way out of line on the internet either. Digging back to the previous years, it seems like the company has been treating customers on Twitter this way since… forever. 

We already know Harvey Norman’s favourite emojis: 😂🤦‍♂️👋😘
In case it’s not clear enough: under no circumstances should you be stalking your customers’ personal social media profiles and using it against them. That’s creepy and condescending.
You couldn’t have lost a customer more easily.

Seriously, who allowed this to happen?! If you were wondering if the account got hacked, the company has not issued an official statement otherwise. Very suss, indeed. 

Interestingly, their Facebook page had almost no commentary on any of the above, which means it has been heavily moderated.

TL;DR: Don’t do any of the above and check out these brands who are nailing the community management game instead!