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Clamor for HP TouchPads turns nasty

Company's social-media manager deluged with customer frustration, insults, and others rushing to her defense.


Social-media manager is not a job to covet after your company has spent the past week often mishandling the announcement of a huge transition. Especially if that transition involves getting out of your core business, canceling some much-hyped products that you just launched, liquidating those products at fire sale prices, canceling numerous liquidation orders after over-selling the inventory, and then announcing that you're going to make one last batch to meet the demand, except that... you still might not meet the demand.

In case you missed it, Hewlett-Packard announced earlier in the month that it is looking to get out of the personal computer business and that it will be discontinuing TouchPads and Palm phones immediately. The TouchPad fire sale, with prices as low as $99--an 80 percent markdown--followed, and demand seemed to far outstrip supply, creating lines in stores, canceled online orders, and now the possibility of one more last batch.

Of course, none of this is Bryna Corcoran's fault. But lately, the self-described "social media manager and corporate ninja" for HP has been taking the brunt of the flames from disgruntled HP customers, former HP customers, and wannabe HP customers who just can't score one of those cheap HP TouchPads.

When Corcoran's colleague Mark Budgell set off a new TouchPad buzz by posting word on an HP blog that more TouchPads were on their way, she did her duty and cheerfully tweeted the news, while also apologizing for all the TouchPad chaos in tweetspeak:

And MAD #HoneyBadger props to all of you for the patience through this crazy #TouchPadZombie world we are in right now. #staycoolmybabies

But today was not to be a smooth day for Corcoran, with colleague Budgell away from Twitter traveling and an early announcement that HP's site to alert potential customers to the availability of more TouchPads had been overwhelmed and taken down--what's more, it apparently didn't even capture many of the e-mail addresses users put in to sign up for the alerts.

Since then, @BrynaatHP has been barraged, often with several @ mentions per minute on Twitter, including lots of frustrated questions, some pretty rude insults, and the occasional compliment or thank-you. Who knows what her stack of DMs must look like. Repeating a set of informational tweets from earlier in the day, despite pre-apologizing, brought the flames, and this one calling out the "meanies" only brought more:

Screen capture by Eric Mack/CNET

During the course of the whole TouchPad debacle, Corcoran's followers have increased almost ten-fold, from 4,000 to nearly 40,000, the majority of the new blood likely ravenous for a tablet from the tech hospice. That's not exactly a formula for a social-networking love-in.

So, after a long day, Corocoran has done what any of us would do and...well, let me just let her put it to you:

K, pulling a #BailWhale and getting off Twitter. I've inbox-bombed HP peeps for answers to some of your most FAQs... Have a good night #TouchPad Peeps. #NoFearsNoTears #staycoolmybabies