You have to wonder who well-known UK retail chain Habitat were taking their Social Media advice from when they launched their Twitter account last week. With a 20% discount offer to promote, they set about getting the word out right away. The problem was, with only a few followers to their new account, how would they get anyone to take notice?
Their answer was to spam popular hashtags with their marketing message. #Apple, #phone and #mms were all spammed with news that “Our totally desirable Spring collection now has 20% off!”. They were just some of the tame ones; in a blatant attempt to piggyback on the interest in the current troubles in Iran they used #MOUSAVI too.
Understandably, Twitter users erupted in anger at this misuse of the service and before long Habitat had deleted the offending tweets. Tweets don’t die though, Twitter Search still offers up the evidence for anyone to see.
Search for more recent tweets about Habitat and you’ll find nothing but a long list of people discussing their spammy behaviour. Bad news travels fast and at least for some Twitter addicts, Habitat’s reputation is now in tatters.
There are signs now that they may be learning to use Twitter in a more useful way. Marketing works best on Twitter if it’s indirect and conversational. Since deleting their controversial tweets they’ve started using their account to reach out to people who have mentioned being Habitat customers, including minor British celebrity Matthew Horne. “Hey matt glad your daft punk is dancing again, glad we could help fix it!”, they quip.
Still, as Social Media Today points out, Habitat would probably have come out of this a lot better if they had admitted the problem and apologised before moving on. By deleting the tweets and starting afresh they haven’t ‘cleared the air’ with those upset about their actions.
UPDATE: Habitat has now apologised for this incident saying they “Never meant to abuse Twitter” and that they “…would like to make a very sincere apology to any users who were offended by last week’s activity on Twitter”.