Why brands can’t dismiss the impact Twitter has on PR

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Up until Twitter became mainstream, brands didn’t have to worry too much about a mass backlash – unless it made it to the papers. Now, more and more brands are slipping up when it comes to underestimating the amount of power the Twitter community has.

Already this year, a number of brands have slipped up.

H&M

H&M followed in the footsteps of others, like Paperchase, who have been accused of using designs from up and coming artists without their permission. This time designer Tori LaConsay has pointed out some striking similarities between her work and the designs on several of their home accessories.

Initially, H&M released the following statement:

“We employ an independent team of over 100 designers. We can assure you that this design has not been influenced by your work and that no copyright has been infringed.”

But after a Twitter campaign, complete with hashtag, and promotion by Regretsy, the high street store has apologised on their Facebook page to those that ‘think we have copied”.

LA Fitness

Next up to feel the wrath of the Twitter community was LA Fitness. This time, it concerned a couple who were unable to continue their 24-month gym contract as she was pregnant, he had been made redundant, and they both had to move 12 miles away without a car to commute.

LA Fitness apparently refused to let them out of the contract. It was only after several hours of pressure from Twitter users that they gave in and allowed the couple to close their contract. Sadly, this was too late for LA Fitness, whose reputation has taken a serious beating.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s attempted a Twitter campaign this week to encourage users to tweet positive messages about the brand, using the hashtag #McDStories

Sadly for them, the stories ended up being a little more like this:

#McDStories Take a McDonalds fry, let it sit for 6 months. It will not deteriorate or spoil like a normal potato. It will remain how it was

Once the hashtag was out there, McDonald’s lost all control of it. Bit of a hard lesson, and one they probably could have learnt before – it’s hardly the first time this has happened.

Claire’s Accessories vs. Tatty Devine

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a small brand highlight a very similar product that a bigger brand has released a similar version of. But Claire’s Accessories’ biggest failing was their social media approach during the crisis. The company deleted any negative post on their Facebook wall and barely mentioned the claims by Tatty Devine on their  Facebook or  Twitter pages. Sometimes, no news can be as damaging as bad news.

So, despite brands being on Twitter for a couple of years now, it’s clear some still don’t realise just how much say a Twitter community has.


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