How Not To Use Twitter 

1 February 2010  
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Back in the heady days of summer, I applauded Toyota Ireland for their use of Twitter and their innovative idea to promote the Toyota iQ by giving 4 bloggers the to drive and blog about for 6 months.  They reached out via Twitter and selected four people (including myself) who would blog monthly and post about their experience of using the car.  Good for link love and great for PR.  It was an inspired idea.

Today I’m sorry to say that the very same people are to be noted for how NOT to use Twitter.

There has been a lot of media coverage over the weekend about the car recall Toyota. Toyota have had to recall several models due to an accelerator problem.  On Newstalk this morning they were talking about the Toyota car recall. I’m sure it was on all the media – for many people (like me) I’d expect to be hearing about it online too.  While the Toyota Ireland website has some information in its news section.  There is nothing on Twitter.

There are countless examples of organisations failing to use Twitter during times of crisis management.  The Channel Tunnel at Christmas was the most recent example and countless commentators have written about the lessons to be learned. Here in Ireland, Bord Gais are simultaneously lauded for their blogger/Twitter outreach programme last year, but knocked for forgetting all about it when people were wondering what was going on with the stolen laptops.

And no, I’m not being harsh, someone is not responsible for the management of the Twitter iQ launch campaign.

Last week I tweeted about my last Toyota iQ post and whoever was twittering for Toyota tweeted back (a day late) asking me (very directly I thought) if I was going to buy the car.  As I had already had a discussion with Toyota themselves about this (and decided I needed something with a bit more poke), I went to DM on Twitter to say no.  I didn’t want to embarrass my car benefactors by stating publicly that I didn’t want the car.  But I was amazed to see that Toyota Ireland wasn’t following me, so I was unable to DM.

If you look at who Toyota Ireland is following – it’s a list of other Toyota offices and PR people.  Not one of the bloggers they gave a car to.  No car enthusiasts.   No target market.  Nothing.

If you look at the recent Twitter stream – the conversation is about pushing sales messages, every couple of days:

The only chat comes at the start and that’s when I told them they weren’t following me.  And they got my name wrong.

So it’s another one to enter the Twitter Hall of Fail.

I really don’t understand how so many can get something so easy so wrong.

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  1. It looks like the guys in Toyota are “listening” as they are now looking for feedback on the recall on their twitter stream.

    It’s time for marketers to stop thinking about doing social media “campaigns” and to invest in it as an “engagement” tool. Only following 46 people when you have nearly 800 followers probably doesn’t count as engagement.

  2. Whatever about the iQ promotion, Toyota Ireland’s use of Twitter and other online channels for the recall improved greatly as the week progressed.

    Bulletins are published on toyota.ie, though perhaps not as prominently as they could be, and Twitter seems to be employed as a two way communications channel now. Friday saw the launch of a recall microsite, toyota.ie/recall, with good FAQs and a car reg checker. Given that they must be operating under corporate and legal constraints, as well as having to deal with local media and customer queries, this seems to be a better reaction than most.

  3. Yes Brendan, I agree – in no small part I suspect this might be down to the agency named above nudging Toyota to get on the case and perhaps this post added a little fuel to the otherwise dim fire?

  4. Regardless of the motivation, it is good to see them being more proactive in responding. Other brands might see complaints online and continue to choose not to respond, so I say fair play for getting stuck in.

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