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Habitat finding Twitter very Uncomfortable June 25, 2009

Posted by BCME UK in Social media.

by Matt H

The news that Habitat had embarked on a spectacularly unsuccessful social media campaign through Twitter has really struck me. In a matter of hours, Habitat managed to start and close a corporate Twitter account, but not before offending a large proportion of the Twitter community by posting spam messages using the most popular trend tags at that time including #iPhone, #Apple and notably #IranElection.

Whilst this is obviously a PR blooper of the highest level, one thing it does is to highlight the importance of understanding a tool before trying to use it. So in the same way Blue Peter would advise that children ask an adult to supervise or help them when using scissors, a clear message emerges that you shouldn’t play with potentially dangerous toys if you are not competent using them.

Adding a social media element to a campaign shouldn’t be seen merely as a tick box – it is far worse to do something wrong than not to do it at all as the mass negative reaction to Habitat has shown. For an organisation that prides itself on quality and its own (previously) respectable brand name, this suggests  that Habitat has simply seen other brands utilising social media in a positive way and screamed, ‘me toooooooo’.

Habitat has responded and apologised, stating the misadventure was a mistake and that the Tweets had ‘not been authorized by Habitat’. Whoever has done it, was allowed access to the account and has demonstrated an unbelievable mis-interpretation of how to use Twitter. I know a lot of people don’t ‘get’ Twitter, but come on – even the most bumbling of technophobes can’t have believed it was appropriate, legitimate or in their best interests to hi-jack popular trends to spam untargetted people across the globe.

Twitter has been receiving a lot of praise as being a force for good of late. Particularly for raising awareness and exposing injustice in Iran as foreign media and reporting has been banned there. For Habitat to abuse this is shocking and represents the marketing equivalent of not heeding Blue Peter’s warning and stabbing yourself in the eye with a pair of scissors.




Via Brand Republic



1. Andrew Smith @onedegree - July 1, 2009

It has to be said, social media is a great tool for free marketing and raising brand awareness, but as you say, if you dont understand it or abuse it, you really are creating brand damage….

Maybe Habitat should have employeed a PR agency that understands Social Media and technology….always worrying that people within organisations (even big ones) think “Social Media??? I use facebook, i will do our social media stuff, and it wont cost us a thing…” Oh dear, for Habitat, Im sure it has….

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