Vodafone have been using Twitter for a while now and previously with good effect, but that is souring a little due to a Christmas competition that isn’t going quite as they planned. I was impressed with Vodafone when my friend tweeted her frustration at not being contacted by them even though she’d been in touch with their customer services department. It wasn’t long after she tweeted that she received a tweet back from Vodafone with an email address for her to contact someone directly and the issue was quickly resolved.
Since then, I’ve heard similarly positive anecdotes about how switched on Vodafone is with their customer services department and Twitter. In fact I held them up as an example of how to use Twitter correctly and efficiently when it came to combatting negative mentions and customer dissatisfaction. However, their use of Twitter has been less successful of late due to a Christmas competition they’ve run with an un-moderated Twitter feed pulling through onto their website. The 12 Days of Smiles competition is an opportunity to win smartphone handsets by tweeting what #madeyousmile – entrants automatically get entered into the prize draw and the comments are published on their website by. So far, so good, but not everyone is as full of the Christmas spirit, especially those concerned with taking direct action against companies guilty of tax avoidance – something they allege against Vodafone. The hash tag was quickly hijacked by UK Uncut who re-tweeted to their 10.5k followers, who obliged with featuring the hash tags with rather unseasonable messages related to avoiding tax bills! So successful was the hijack that on 12th December the #makemesmile has tag was the number 1 trending topic in the UK! How can a company that seemed switched on about Twitter be unprepared for the possibility of the hashtag being appropriated? The stream on the website was completely un-moderated, so customers visiting those pages were treated to a mixture of genuine entries and abuse. The page has since been revised so that it now looks to be moderated and only competition entries are showing, but the media storm means that there are thousands of people who know about the allegations about Vodafone’s tax avoidance when perhaps they had no idea before – I know it was news to me. There is always an argument for not moderating content when proposing an interactive competition – with the worry that by vetting entries they’re being sanitised and the participants will be frustrated, but in this instance, this was surely the only route they could have gone down? A big corporation such as Vodafone is not without detractors and some acknowledgement of that could perhaps have saved some heartache and reduced the workload of a presumably very busy PR department who perhaps aren’t smiling as much as they were last week.