Apologies for the blurred imagery. Many of the offending Tweets have been deleted so I’m working off screenshots of screenshots.
Another week, another Twitter debacle. This time it features Hawke and Co, a New York-based “lifestyle brand” no doubt catering for a “hipster” audience. When customer Christian Conti posted a fairly innocuous complaint about the company’s customer service the response could best be described as dismissive:
And that wasn’t all
It seemed their account was being looked after by someone who didn’t quite understand the nature of Twitter. This appalling customer service was quickly highlighted by US social media experts like Tammy Gordon (@Tammy) and Meg Coffey (@TexanMeg). Celebs like Neil Gaiman (2 million followers) soon followed and the exchange went global.
So did Hawke & Co see the error of their ways and immediately try to rectify the problem? Not quite.
Of course. This brand burning exercise was a “social experiment”. In a separate direct message to Christian the company thanked him for the exposure.
At this point it seems a grown up took charge of the Twitter account and made a half-arsed attempt to make amends with this inadequate non-apology.
Love the understatement of someone who simply doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. The next Tweet, however, indicated a rapidly accelerating level of panic:
The “Twitterverse” responded with various creative suggestions of what Hawke and Co could do with their discount code and this Tweet (along with the offending messages above) was then rapidly deleted. These events unfolded over the weekend.
When the big cheeses returned on the Monday morning there was something of a change of attitude and a humiliating public statement:
I would like to apologize to Christian (@cconti) and to all our customers for the exchange that occurred on the behalf of our brand. The exchange (publicly and in DM) strictly does not express the views or practices of the Hawke & Co brand. We value every one of our customers for who they are, not for their pull or any other attributes, nor do we encourage exploitation for publicity. This has been a fall from grace for our brand and we will do everything we can to regain the trust of our customers. My team and I are humbled by this experience and are sad to be going through this situation as it should have never happened. Please be assured that new processes will be implemented to ensure this never happens again.
Director of Marketing and Branding
I think that’s what they call making the best of a bad job. But am I the only one who thinks the way Hawke and Co announced this statement on Twitter demonstrated the lesson still had not hit home?
And for all their bluster about Christian’s number of followers it seems the Hawke has little to crow about. Meg Coffey helpfully shared a Twitter audit that revealed that fewer than 40 of the company’s 20,000+ followers were real. The remainder were fake accounts and paid for follows. How embarrassing.
Hawke and Co has learned the hard way that social media is a bit like a nuclear power station. Generally harmless until you put it in the hands of an idiot.