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Vodafone’s Twitter Account – Social Media Can Be Dangerous

With the rise of mobile internet and social networking over the last couple of years, social media has been increasingly populated with corporate voices, and Vodafone are one of the brave companies which have taken a chance on Twitter. Unfortunately, today saw a mysterious tweet from the Vodafone twitter account, announcing Vodafone “is fed up of dirty homo’s and is going after beaver”.

The tweet was deleted almost immediately but was not missed by Twitter’s dedicated tweeters, who reposted and retweeted the message, and demanded an explanation from Vodafone. Vodafone made their apologies, and admitted that there had been a “breach of rules by staff”. I’m sure they’ll be more careful about what they tweet in the future, but to some extent the damage is already done. Social Media is a great way of businesses connecting with customers on their own terms, but getting it wrong can be disastrous, with the smallest mistake causing a massive stir.

Vodafone's apology

Vodafone's apology

And it’s not just offensive homophobic messages which will be publicised and criticised; Habitat were criticised for their use of hashtags on Twitter, attempting to cash in on various different Trending Topics including the Iranian election. Social media can be a dangerous place for businesses, particuarly those with strong brand names, so be careful, or get a professional to manage your social media presence.

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2 Comments
  • Matt Rhodes on February 6, 2010

    The challenge with social media, and with Twitter especially, is that once something is said it is very difficult to delete it. People forward the tweet and talk about it, and you can even find it on Twitter Search. So you can’t hide from anything that’s said, however much it wasn’t meant.

    For me the real threat of such occurrences is that it will scare brands into not using social media. This is possibly the worst outcome. Brands need to be sensible about using social media – how and where it can help but also what the risks are. As you say for this professional help can often be useful.

    I personally think that Vodafone handled this situation very well. They responded quickly, explained what happened and responded in the media in which people were complaining.

    We wrote a little bit more about what we can learn from this experience on our blog if anybody is interested:

    http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2010/02/vodafone-twitter-and-the-challenges-of-managing-your-brand-in-social-media/

  • Mark Pack on February 7, 2010

    It’s more nuanced that saying “the damage has already been done”, because:

    (1) Responding well to a mistake can end up improving your reputation. We know everyone makes mistakes; but not everyone then handles them well, and

    (2) It’s given a huge amount of free publicity for Vodafone’s Twitter presence – which is an audience they can now make good use of in future

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