We’ve all come to expect it from porn and knock-off pharmaceutical websites, but now interior decoration chain Habitat has been accused of the worst kind of marketing behaviour by internet users.
The furniture leviathan today had its tail wedged firmly between its legs after users of social network-du-jour, Twitter, charged it with hijacking the popularity of the Iranian elections to draw attention to one of its offers.
The company used hashtags, the keywords used by Twitter to filter tweets and determine which topics are the most popular, including #iranelection and #iPhone, to highlight its ‘totally desirable spring collection’, prompting accusations of spamming – and worse.
‘@HabitatUK is an official case study in how not to use Twitter’ is one message which has been repeated over and over, while one user said ‘Its [sic] hard not to label @HabitatUK as a spam-bot. Terrible thing to do to a premium brand’. User Phil Waters simply added: ‘Spamming news of important events. You must be so proud.’
The company was today left attempting to clean up what was left of its tattered online reputation by desperately grovelling to users, telling Sky News Online it’s ‘important... we always listen, take on board observations and welcome constructive criticism’.
While the company was unwilling to answer any of Smarta’s more specific questions (why did you do it? What have you learned? Has the person responsible been banished from the internet once and for all?), spokesman Nicholas Wiltshire did have this to say:
“This was not authorised by our marketing team and does not reflect our communications strategy. It is a mistake we are looking into... We will do our utmost to ensure any mistakes are never repeated and we are determined to do better for the Twitter community.”
While Smarta suspects the person responsible may have been an overenthusiastic work experience student, it's still a potent lesson in the great levelling power of social media: users spam at their own risk.