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Habitat UK Slammed For Twitter Spam

habitat_logo.gifThe UK branch of furniture giant Habitat has received much criticism and has had to apologize for their inappropriate advertising use of social media site Twitter.

In an effort to increase the number of readers of their messages, the company had attached “hashtags” that were related to popular topics such as #iphone or popular events such as #iranelection (this happened just after the disputed election in Iran).

Hashtags are topical labels that Twitter users attach to their messages to make it easier to search and trace current topics. However Habitat was sending direct marketing messages such as ‘Our totally desirable Spring collection now has 20% off!’ with the label #mousavi so that their message would be read by people looking for messages about the elections in Iran.

A search by Digital Tip turned up a whole series of such messages:


This example shows the original tweet, plus the person’s opinion of Habitat’s actions (“Terrible marketing behaviour!”).


(note: these images are from Digital Tip, read more about this twitter episode on their site.)

Habitat has since apologized for the error. A spokesman said: “This was a mistake and it is important to us that we always listen, take on board observations and welcome constructive criticism. We will do our utmost to ensure any mistakes are never repeated.”

Marketing through social media such as Twitter or Facebook has started to become a hot topic for many mainstream companies. However, as this incident illustrates, it is especially important to treat new channels carefully until they are well understood, or the harm can far outweigh the good they will do you.

27.07.2009    Tags: ,
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