How not to engage with bloggers: Twitter, Multibrands Ltd & something called Lipice

Edit August 2011:

Since a few people have asked about this, I thought I’d clarify this matter which happened a long time ago now.

After this kicked off a number of things happened – someone from the company finally spotted this post and said they were ‘in touch with the lawyers’. Someone from the company then got in touch with me, asked for my phone number to discuss the matter and I got numerous – NUMEROUS – calls and text messages from this person to clarify this situation and other things….

Apparently this is the work of a disgruntled employee, who on the way out though they’d stir up some trouble for Multibrands. I guess I have no reason to not believe this. So the lesson here is, be careful WHO you let run your social media, and be prepared to use parental locks.

Obviously despite this I have turned down products to review from this company although I said they could send products out to some local hospices of my choice, to make it up to me. That was last year…not heard back yet. Oh well.

This post is about something that happened about a week ago on Twitter and since a few people have asked me for updates on the situation (there are none) I thought I’d clarify here what happened and offer some advice, just from the perspective of a keen blogger, to social media agencies, marketing departments, advertising agencies, link builders – whatever jargon job title you want, basically:

PEOPLE WHO WANT TO ENGAGE WITH BLOGGERS AS A WAY OF PROMOTING THEIR WARES.

#alttext#

So around the 9th December….

Someone emailed me from a company called Multibrands International Ltd (based in Bradford) about their lip balms, called Lipice, asking if I wanted to review them. Ok I said, and would you like to provide some products for a giveaway? Yes they said – everything was fine, pretty standard stuff.

I’ll pop it in the post, said the fella (they mustn’t have sent it because as of today, 2 weeks later it didn’t arrive. Just as well I guess!).

Then….

A pretty standard day on my way to work, I tweeted about how I made it onto the public transport in time because a young man was actually speedy for once (he’s my morning travel nemesis – he always dives in front of me and pays for his £3 ticket in 10p’s as slowly as possible…but I digress).

Then I got this response – from a Tweeter I didn’t know or recognise:
(Note: I made screenshots of these at the advice of another blogger – thankfully.)

“Do you moan about everything?”

#alttext#

At first I was a little taken aback – you know when you’re not sure if someone is actually being rude to you, or if you are being sensitive?

Certainly, they have a point – I do moan a lot but always in jest and with sarcasm – if you don’t get that, you probably won’t get my Twitter or this blog, but coming from someone I didn’t know at all, I felt it was bad mannered (and I didn’t make the link between the Twitter account and Lipice at this point).

I replied (and in all honesty I can’t remember it word for word) but it was along the lines of, Yes I guess I do moan a lot. But Lesson 1 of representing a brand on Twitter: keep your opinions to yourself.

Then it went quiet. During this time, another blogger who I trust and respect sent me a private message saying, ‘Am I imagining it, or was Multibrands being rude to you?’ She actually presumed there might’ve been some kind of in joke and we were buddies – not the case. I realised then, that they represented Lipice, the same people who had emailed me 5 days earlier.

Then, a few hours later as a response to my earlier tweet came this message:

#alttext#

Nice. Very professional of them. At this point, I tweeted them back and just told them to unfollow me (why can’t people just do that rather than whinge?) and I tweeted that I wouldn’t be working with Multibrands. A few other bloggers noticed, read the messages from their account and things…kicked off a bit. It wasn’t really my intention but boy, was it fantastic to have the support of fellow bloggers and tweeters :)

MultibrandsLTD response to this?

A number of the most ridiculous, childish, patronsing tweets I have ever read, not just to me, but in general (I didn’t get a chance to snap shot these but other bloggers will vouch for me). Tweets like,

“We have seen GIRL POWER!!!!”

You can almost picture the sweaty beast sat behind his computer, LOLing to himself about how he managed to wind up a bunch of girls on Twitter, how amusing, almost as much fun as playing World of Warcraft….

But it was time to shut up.

Just take a step back and shut up.

Because this is not someone’s personal account. This is someone representing a company, and apparently a large company at that. This reflects so badly on the company, on their brands, and certainly on the people who look after their social media (I know of a few bloggers now who have told me they’ve turned down working with them because of their conduct).

Not long after, the account @multibrandsLTD was deleted. I wonder why?


Perhaps Multibrands needs to take heed of a few things when it comes to blogger engagement and running their Twitter accounts. Just some general tips for business Tweeters, off the top of my head (in my opinion, feel free to add your own!).

1. A business account is for business

Some people manage to run their accounts in a professional way but with a personal touch, but this is a fine art. If in doubt keep it professional. Don’t argue with people online, don’t be madly opinionated about things (like Heatworld on Katie Waissel), don’t try and wind people up and do anything that makes your brand look bad, silly, stupid, ignorant. Because this ain’t about YOU.

I think ASOS and Royal Mail have good customer service Twitter accounts and they have their fair share of hysterical people tweeting them constantly for updates (I am one of them) and are always professional.

2. Do expect people to contact you via Twitter, if you have a Twitter

Some businesses have Twitter and use them only for updating information. Some use the accounts for customer service and engagement. People generally are going to try and talk to you if you put your brand on Twitter. Deal with it, or don’t have a Twitter. If you are going to talk to customers via Twitter, then make sure the account is properly looked after, because its not going to look good if you reply only to some people and sporadically, like when Mike is working through his lunch hour.

3. Don’t just use your Twitter account for spin!

It’s quite annoying when brands just constantly retweet positive things people say about them (Marks and Spencers is terrible for this and Royal Mail have started doing it). Trust me, we aren’t stupid – for every person that has something nice to say there’s another 20 complaining about you. We know. It just floods our time line and makes us *roll eyes*

4. If you really must…

Unfollow. Twitter is not Facebook; you won’t have to face the majority of these people in the flesh so if someone makes you so annoyed (bearing in mind I am sure we ALL have our ups and downs) then unfollow.

However, I do think that in a business Twitter account context, this is not about what the person maintaing the account thinks, it’s about building links and contacts. Once again it comes down to professionalism.


It’s 5am ladies, I need to sleep. Your comments are welcome on the subject! Do you love Twitter too?

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Comments

  1. wow…

  2. I completely agree about brands needing to keep their Twitter accounts professional. I actually find that several beauty brands often tweet about news items which seem totally inappropriate. For instance there was a story in the papers about a couple who were seeking advice regarding a pregnancy and one brand who I won’t name somehow thought it was okay to ask followers for opinions on what the couple should do, which I actually thought was totally crude and it almost made me unfollow. I think some brands forget just how much of a marketing tool twitter is and that really it should be handled by their professional PRs…sometimes I wonder whether they’re just trying to find something for work experience interns to do!

  3. Hmmm….if a company spoke to customers and people who are going to review their product in a rude way then it would make me think twice about ever using their products. Not brilliant on the company’s part.

  4. Oh. My. God.

    How rude!!

    Jeebus H Crisps! What a thoroughly unpleasant man! No one in their right mind would deal with him in a million years after that Twitter exchange.

    I do have a Twitter account, which is under the name of my business, but far from using it to ram my wares down people’s throats, I mainly just use it to catch up with my Twitter buds and see how they are. I HATE it when companies just blather a load of old PC codswallop on their accounts. I hate it even more when a business refuses to engage with its customers, a prime example being Asda. They just spout the PC bullsh*t and ignore anything they consider inconvenient. I think Lush have a great relationship with their customers on their account: friendly, fun, but all business if you need an issue sorting out. That’s the way all businesses should be on Twitter, in my opinion.

  5. Wow, how incredibly unprofessional. And their ‘lesson’ was completely irrelevant.

  6. It was incredibly rude. If it’s a business Twitter account, there’s no place for snark with potential customers. Ever.

    You know who else does that RT thing and drives me insane? Debenhams. I had to unfollow.

  7. How vastly unprofessional…I can’t believe someone would use a business Twitter account that way. It really does cast a bad image on the company.

  8. whoever was behind that multibrand twitter, most likely got fired by now lol no company in their rite mind would be rude to customers or potential customers..isnt the policy ‘customers are always right’ still applies in the retail world?

    xoxo elle

  9. Completely unprofessional, not to mention rude. This is the kind of thing people should be sacked over. You mentioned brands with semi-personal Twitter accounts and I’d say that @urbandecay411 and @NARSissist are both pretty good examples.

    Good point about making sure someone is taking care of the Twitter though… so irritating to contact a company on Twitter with a question and never hear back, and then check their Twitter page to see that no one hears back because they only tweet once a month or something.

  10. I love twitter, but I hated how horrifyingly rude they were to you! I mean, who is monitoring this site – was it just a joke to someone who worked there? But I am proud of you for how you handled it, chick! :) And heck, I couldn’t live through twitter without your sarcasm ;) xx

  11. wow that’s so stupid. social media is a really good thing to promote etc if you use it well, but apparently it can also turn people against you

  12. Wow. Well said. I can’t believe how awful that company was behaving. I’m so sorry they harassed you.

  13. how rude and unprofessional! they really should rethink how they represent themselves online and who they put in-charge of managing their social media accounts! really I always thought it was common sense to know that some things are better keep unsaid especially on a business account.

  14. Seriously not cool for a supposedly large company to treat someone who they’ve asked to review their product like that!

  15. I do think we should give them the benefit of the doubt – someone could have hacked into their account or just made up the twitter account. It happens all the time with celebs. It is odd that they haven’t been in touch to explain so i guess they are guilty.

  16. Personally, I hate Twitter. The day you catch me tweeting will be the day you-know-where freezes over. That being said, I can see where it has it’s advantages, especially in customer relations. There’s no excuse for a company to let this sort of rude, unprofessional banter go on. Just as well that you haven’t received their products thus far; I’m doubting that you ever will.

  17. Wow…
    makes me wonder under whose instructions was their twitter account created in the first place and who got chosen to tweet (and what criteria did that person meet). Very unprofessional on a number of levels!!!

  18. Hi everybody,
    I did work for Multibrands LTD in Bradford UK for…. 1,5 days ;) and guess what? Their work ethics towards employees far away from what is on their website :). What can you expect towards outsiders? ;) And the problem is not in the company itself, but unfortunately on the top of sources. And that arrogance behaviour towards everybody is in there, too. And it even got a name ;) what published on their website… So, I am not surprised about your article and experience you had with them. Regards and best wishes, Sergeo.

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