There are fails. And then there are #Fails.
Friday morning fell under the latter category for Rogers Communications after it launched a social media initiative on Twitter promoting Rogers One Number, a new service that allows Rogers customers to text, talk and video call – whether on their computer or wireless phone – using their existing Rogers wireless number.
Rogers used Twitter’s “promoted tweet” functionality for the hashtag #Rogers1Number. It sat atop Twitter’s trending topics list most of the day, but Twitter posters used the hashtag to complain about Rogers and its services.
The wave of negative feedback was large enough to attract attention from news outlets such as The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.
Rogers, which owns Marketing, began the promoted trend campaign on Thursday night as part of an effort to raise awareness about Rogers One Number. In response, tweets ranged from personal recommendations for other service providers to commentary on the use of promoted tweets.
Andrew Holmes, who uses the handle @ToBSuccessful, posted “#Rogers1Number paying to have this trend promoted just made it easier to read the world’s negative thoughts about Rogers. #CounterProductive.”
Keith McArthur, vice-president of social media at Rogers Communications, told Marketing on Friday afternoon that “We learn new things from our customers every day in social media. Today we’re learning even more than usual.”
In response to the deluge, the company’s @RogersBuzz account posted “We’re on Twitter to listen & help. We’re hearing you loud & clear today. You can reach us @RogersHelps #Rogers1Number cc: @globeandmail” mid-afternoon on Friday. The Globe and Mail was presumably included in the post as a reference to an article entitled “Rogers marketers feel the wrath of Twitter” that the paper published on its website Friday morning.
McArthur said the number of Twitter complaints was still being measured, adding that “We’re reading all the tweets, positive or negative.” Roughly 10 Rogers employees were engaging with customers as community managers or customer services representatives, he said.
Rogers is not the first big company to have its hashtags hijacked. Starbucks suffered a similar fate in 2009 around the use of its #top3percent promotion.
Asked if this type of negative feedback is an inherent risk for marketers rolling out such social media campaigns, McArthur said “What makes social media great is that it’s a balance between what a brand wants to talk about and what our customers want to talk about. There’s always a risk, but the benefit is that we get feedback that we can pass on to different parts of the business and make our products and services better.”
The promoted trend, said McArthur, was scheduled to run until Friday evening.