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Why Viral Brand Tweets Can Be Terminal

Why Viral Brand Tweets Can Be Terminal

“We’re sure your 320 followers will understand.”Just 46 simple characters, yet they caused so much damage.When it comes to customer service, Twitter can be a magnificent thing. Customers can interact with brands quickly and efficiently and it allows brands to give themselves a personality beyond the purchase. Brands excelling at customer service attract a loyal audience. It’s different for those that don’t.When Chicago-based Christian Conti sent a tweet to a relatively unknown New York-based clothing company called Hawke & Co complaining about a recent purchase, they sent the 46 characters above by way of reply. The result was nothing short of a spectacular example of how NOT to use twitter for customer service.Hawke & Co responded to Conti’s original tweet with several (since deleted) messages, referencing that with only 320 followers his complaint wouldn’t matter. At one point the company used the hashtag #entitled. It appears that size does matter, however, as Hawke & Co’s tweet about the number of Conti’s followers went viral with several influencers picking up on it and retweeting the tweets before they were deleted.The irony in this? Of Hawke & Co’s 19,000 followers at the time, only 39 were real accounts. Hawke & Co deleted the tweets, send another one out that claimed it to be a social experiment and then delete that as well. To make matters worse, in a series of private messages Hawke & Co thanked Conti for the exposure he gave them. The twittersphere went wild. The exchange made it to BuzzFeed. Finally Hawke & Co issued an apology.In today’s cynical world, we wouldn’t be faulted for thinking this was all a brand awareness stunt. The comment about it being a social experiment could be true… but it was a very risky one to take. If you scrutinise it, this was just an example of customer service gone very wrong.There’s nothing wrong with a brand having a voice or a positive attitude – that should be encouraged. But what Mr Conti experienced should not. It was not appropriate.Every interaction with a customer should be treated with the same respect, regardless of someone’s status. Hawke & Co had the opportunity to apologize and correct the problem yet instead failed to realize the power of Twitter. Even for someone with 320 followers.

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