Horizon Realty (Horizon Group Management LLC of Chicago, Illinois) probably wishes it had handled that tweet from Amanda Bonnen a little differently now. Unfortunately, some of the best lessons are only learned in hindsight. I’m also sure they probably wished they had kept a muzzle on Jeffrey Michael who was famously quoted as saying: “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” Furthermore, he said that while she moved out recently, the company never had a conversation about the post and never asked her to take it down.
The offending tweet to her friend read, “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay.”
Now, in just a very few days Horizon Realty became a trending topic on the twitter.com home page and every social media maven is talking about it.
While I’m sure they thought they could intimidate her and teach her a stern lesson it’s now their turn to learn a stern lesson. This is where a lack of intelligence when it comes to the Internet and Social Media will really hurt you. Amanda opened her twitter account and had a grand total of no more then 10 tweets. She had all of 20 followers and was following 29 people. By all accounts her reach was very small. Thanks to Jeffrey Michael’s gung ho attitude and that of Horizon Realty EVERYBODY knows what she said now. How much more damage has been done by their inability to communicate with her first instead of suing her for $50,000 for something that was written in May? Now, they are in real damage control mode defending themselves on the radio, television and in print trying to justify their actions and the infamous “we’re a sue first ask questions later kind of company” statement.
What’s the lesson here? Well, there is two actually. First, talk to your tenant or former tenant before sending the lawyers after them. Ask them to please remove the post. Anybody with a decent amount of social media experience would have advised them to let this pass and that it wasn’t worth suing over $50,000. The amount of damage caused by their own actions has cost them far more.
Chalk this up to a lesson learned fellas.