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March 12, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 2:25pm

5 Twitter #fails

Using Twitter to promote your company doesn't always work...

By Claire Vanner

This week saw Argos hit the headlines for its great use of customer service on Twitter.

The Argos Helpers account replied to a disgruntled ‘badman’ about when they would be ‘gettin sum more PS4 tings in’ – That’s a delivery of PS4 games to you and me.


But not all companies are quite as successful when they turn their hand to Twitter. In fact, there are some quite spectacular fails…


#AskBG campaign gives British Gas the cold shoulder

In October 2013, British Gas announced a £120 increase to annual energy bills. Shortly after, it launched a live Twitter Q&A session with its customer service director.

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Unfortunately, the hashtag was commandeered and openly mocked by disgruntled customers who were not impressed with the price hike.



As well as ridiculing British Gas, the company’s social media team itself soon became a target.


#Waitrosereasons tags Waitrose shoppers as snobs

Waitrose was hoping to open itself up to compliments, not ridicule when it invited tweeters to finish the sentence: ‘I shop at Waitrose because…’ with the hashtag #WaitroseReasons.

While the supermarket did receive some praise, such as its correct use of grammar on its basket aisles, which specify ‘ten items or fewer’ not ‘ten items or less’, most people used the hashtag to mock how posh Waitrose is.


Unfortunately, this hashtag has now become famed for the tweet: ‘I also shop at Waitrose because I was once in the Holloway Road branch and heard a dad say ‘Put the papaya down, Orlando!’


But being ever professional, Waitrose welcomed all feedback and passed the insults off as ‘funny’ tweets.


#PricelessSurprises clause for journalists is nasty surprise for Mastercard

Mastercard thought it was being creative with its social media management when it essentially attempted to bribe journalists into tweeting its #PricelessSurprises slogan as the official sponsor of the 2014 Brit Awards.

Mastercard’s PR company reportedly would only allow journalists to officially cover the event if they mentioned @MastercardUK and the hashtag in their coverage.


Unfortunately, The Telegraph’s diary editor Tim Walker sent his email outlying these terms and conditions to the Press Gazette and word soon got out about the ploy.

Even worse, the hashtag was a sponsored tweet. It eventually received so much coverage that the sponsored tweet lead directly to the negative press.


Burger King rebranded as McDonald’s in Twitter hack

Burger King suffered something of a hostile takeover when its Twitter account was hacked and changed to appear as McDonalds.

The Name, profile picture, and background were all changed to reflect the rival fast food chain, while the bio read: ‘Just got sold to McDonalds because the whopper flopped =[ FREEDOM IS FAILURE’


Several tweets with drug references and rude language were then posted on the account until Burger King managed to block their feed while they regained control.


On the bright side, the account did gain nearly 30,000 more followers after the hack, according to The Wall. Does this show all publicity is good publicity?


Cameron’s ‘on the phone’ selfie called into question

In an attempt to show that the British Prime Minister was playing his part in the Ukraine crisis, a picture was tweeted from David Cameron’s Twitter account of him reportedly on the phone to Barak Obama.


But rather than inspiring confidence in the nation, the picture inspired a meme that quickly spread over the internet as people posed with inanimate objects to their ears pretending to be patched in on the call.

Even Sir Patrick Stewart got involved with a packet of wet wipes.


Just to show how much the trend caught on, the CBR team even got in on the joke….



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