Vodafone and Twitter – what went wrong, what went right?

Vodafone 3G guy Vodafone discovered the wrath of the Twittersphere last week, and to their credit, they listened.

Lance Wiggs has a fantastic blog post explaining the background, and the comments are well worth reading too.

It made waves, even worthy of a mention on Radio NZ’s This Way Up programme . (MP3 recording here )

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(Side note: the fact that Radio NZ interviewed a tech correspondent from the UK about a marketing/comms issue in NZ just shows how converged the world is becoming!)

Some observations:

  • Transparency is no longer optional. Issues of corporate strategy are going to be discussed, whether you plan for it or not. Full credit to Paul Brislen from Vodafone for actively participating in the comment thread on Lance’s blog.
  • Beware of the expectations you set. Paul set very high standards by being a genuine participant in social media. While his temporary replacement 3Gguy did interact with people, it was a radical departure from what people had become used to. While 3Gguy may have been a fantastic tactical campaign if it started from scratch, the distance the audience had to travel was too far.
  • Having a strategy helps. Vodafone’s Twitter involvement began as an under-the-radar experiment by Paul, and whatever strategy has been developed has been in retrospect. To be sure, a lot of innovation happens that way (penicillin, anyone?) but when more than one person is involved, it’s good to set some guidelines. (And maybe, ahem, get some help from, say a social media consultancy .)
  • You can’t please all the people, all the time. Some people were quite happy with 3Gguy. After all, he was giving away free stuff! What’s interesting is that, in general, those who didn’t mind 3Gguy are relatively recent to Twitter, while those who resented his presence have been on Twitter for a long time . Within every tribe there will be sub-tribes, and while you can’t please everyone, it’s good to have an idea of who you do want to please.

Last word: It’s easy to throw stones, and have 20/20 hindsight. Vodafone made an unwise decision, but has been excellent in listening and responding to the community.

31 thoughts on “Vodafone and Twitter – what went wrong, what went right?

  • Paul Brislen

    Hi Simon, thanks for the kind words.

    I should point out that we’re treating Twitter as an experiment and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t push things far enough to make them squeak every once in a while.

    While the 3G Guy experiment didn’t work as intended, it did work and we have a successful campaign to push both the product and the service. Would we do it differently next time? Absolutely!

    But the things we’ve learned from the experiment have been invaluable – not least of which is that the Twitterati like what we’re doing with Twitter and that’s something I didn’t know before.

    I should point out that the marketing team are taking a lot of flak for the decision to put the 3G Guy on the main Twitter account, but that wasn’t their call – it was mine! I thought it would be much better to use the main account rather than create another one just for one contest. My bad (as the kids no longer say).

    Ultimately, it’s been great fun and now we know more than when we went in so for me it’s a win. And the beauty of Twitter is it’s water under the bridge. In Twitter years it happened yonks ago … the permanently impermanent is something else that I’ve learned from all this.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Reply
    • Simon

      Thanks Paul! I love the “pushing things far enough to make them squeak”.

      You’re also quite right about this being yonks ago – this blog post has been sitting, unattended, in my draft posts for a while as I travelled last week. However, there’s a lot of learning to be had for those outside the social media bubble, so I thought it worth the post.

      Reply
  • Paul Brislen

    Hi Simon, thanks for the kind words.

    I should point out that we’re treating Twitter as an experiment and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t push things far enough to make them squeak every once in a while.

    While the 3G Guy experiment didn’t work as intended, it did work and we have a successful campaign to push both the product and the service. Would we do it differently next time? Absolutely!

    But the things we’ve learned from the experiment have been invaluable – not least of which is that the Twitterati like what we’re doing with Twitter and that’s something I didn’t know before.

    I should point out that the marketing team are taking a lot of flak for the decision to put the 3G Guy on the main Twitter account, but that wasn’t their call – it was mine! I thought it would be much better to use the main account rather than create another one just for one contest. My bad (as the kids no longer say).

    Ultimately, it’s been great fun and now we know more than when we went in so for me it’s a win. And the beauty of Twitter is it’s water under the bridge. In Twitter years it happened yonks ago … the permanently impermanent is something else that I’ve learned from all this.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Reply
    • Simon

      Thanks Paul! I love the “pushing things far enough to make them squeak”.

      You’re also quite right about this being yonks ago – this blog post has been sitting, unattended, in my draft posts for a while as I travelled last week. However, there’s a lot of learning to be had for those outside the social media bubble, so I thought it worth the post.

      Reply
  • Paul Brislen

    Hi Simon, thanks for the kind words.

    I should point out that we’re treating Twitter as an experiment and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t push things far enough to make them squeak every once in a while.

    While the 3G Guy experiment didn’t work as intended, it did work and we have a successful campaign to push both the product and the service. Would we do it differently next time? Absolutely!

    But the things we’ve learned from the experiment have been invaluable – not least of which is that the Twitterati like what we’re doing with Twitter and that’s something I didn’t know before.

    I should point out that the marketing team are taking a lot of flak for the decision to put the 3G Guy on the main Twitter account, but that wasn’t their call – it was mine! I thought it would be much better to use the main account rather than create another one just for one contest. My bad (as the kids no longer say).

    Ultimately, it’s been great fun and now we know more than when we went in so for me it’s a win. And the beauty of Twitter is it’s water under the bridge. In Twitter years it happened yonks ago … the permanently impermanent is something else that I’ve learned from all this.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Reply
    • Simon

      Thanks Paul! I love the “pushing things far enough to make them squeak”.

      You’re also quite right about this being yonks ago – this blog post has been sitting, unattended, in my draft posts for a while as I travelled last week. However, there’s a lot of learning to be had for those outside the social media bubble, so I thought it worth the post.

      Reply
  • Paul Brislen

    Hi Simon, thanks for the kind words.

    I should point out that we’re treating Twitter as an experiment and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t push things far enough to make them squeak every once in a while.

    While the 3G Guy experiment didn’t work as intended, it did work and we have a successful campaign to push both the product and the service. Would we do it differently next time? Absolutely!

    But the things we’ve learned from the experiment have been invaluable – not least of which is that the Twitterati like what we’re doing with Twitter and that’s something I didn’t know before.

    I should point out that the marketing team are taking a lot of flak for the decision to put the 3G Guy on the main Twitter account, but that wasn’t their call – it was mine! I thought it would be much better to use the main account rather than create another one just for one contest. My bad (as the kids no longer say).

    Ultimately, it’s been great fun and now we know more than when we went in so for me it’s a win. And the beauty of Twitter is it’s water under the bridge. In Twitter years it happened yonks ago … the permanently impermanent is something else that I’ve learned from all this.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Reply
  • Paul Brislen

    Hi Simon, thanks for the kind words.

    I should point out that we’re treating Twitter as an experiment and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t push things far enough to make them squeak every once in a while.

    While the 3G Guy experiment didn’t work as intended, it did work and we have a successful campaign to push both the product and the service. Would we do it differently next time? Absolutely!

    But the things we’ve learned from the experiment have been invaluable – not least of which is that the Twitterati like what we’re doing with Twitter and that’s something I didn’t know before.

    I should point out that the marketing team are taking a lot of flak for the decision to put the 3G Guy on the main Twitter account, but that wasn’t their call – it was mine! I thought it would be much better to use the main account rather than create another one just for one contest. My bad (as the kids no longer say).

    Ultimately, it’s been great fun and now we know more than when we went in so for me it’s a win. And the beauty of Twitter is it’s water under the bridge. In Twitter years it happened yonks ago … the permanently impermanent is something else that I’ve learned from all this.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Reply
    • Simon

      Thanks Paul! I love the “pushing things far enough to make them squeak”.

      You’re also quite right about this being yonks ago – this blog post has been sitting, unattended, in my draft posts for a while as I travelled last week. However, there’s a lot of learning to be had for those outside the social media bubble, so I thought it worth the post.

      Reply
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  • Matt Hancock

    I didn’t pay attention to the whole campaign because I already have a beef with their hardcoded PXT subject lines – I can’t use Twitpic properly because of it.

    If XT did have such a high startup cost, I would go into a Telecom store and ask them if they support subject lines.

    Reply
  • Matt Hancock

    I didn’t pay attention to the whole campaign because I already have a beef with their hardcoded PXT subject lines – I can’t use Twitpic properly because of it.

    If XT did have such a high startup cost, I would go into a Telecom store and ask them if they support subject lines.

    Reply
    • Simon

      Interesting – it sounds like the details are everything!

      Reply
  • Matt Hancock

    I didn’t pay attention to the whole campaign because I already have a beef with their hardcoded PXT subject lines – I can’t use Twitpic properly because of it.

    If XT did have such a high startup cost, I would go into a Telecom store and ask them if they support subject lines.

    Reply
    • Simon

      Thanks Paul! I love the “pushing things far enough to make them squeak”.

      You’re also quite right about this being yonks ago – this blog post has been sitting, unattended, in my draft posts for a while as I travelled last week. However, there’s a lot of learning to be had for those outside the social media bubble, so I thought it worth the post.

      Reply
    • Simon

      Interesting – it sounds like the details are everything!

      Reply
  • Matt Hancock

    I didn’t pay attention to the whole campaign because I already have a beef with their hardcoded PXT subject lines – I can’t use Twitpic properly because of it.

    If XT did have such a high startup cost, I would go into a Telecom store and ask them if they support subject lines.

    Reply
    • Simon

      Interesting – it sounds like the details are everything!

      Reply
  • Matt Hancock

    I didn’t pay attention to the whole campaign because I already have a beef with their hardcoded PXT subject lines – I can’t use Twitpic properly because of it.

    If XT did have such a high startup cost, I would go into a Telecom store and ask them if they support subject lines.

    Reply
    • Simon

      Interesting – it sounds like the details are everything!

      Reply
  • Matt Hancock

    I didn’t pay attention to the whole campaign because I already have a beef with their hardcoded PXT subject lines – I can’t use Twitpic properly because of it.

    If XT did have such a high startup cost, I would go into a Telecom store and ask them if they support subject lines.

    Reply
    • Simon

      Interesting – it sounds like the details are everything!

      Reply
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