HabitatUK apologises for Twitter hashtag issue

The post I did a few days ago, How not to use Twitter HabitatUK a case study, hit a chord on Social Media Today. It was the most viewed post, and it obviously struck a chord with the Twitter community as it was tweeted about for days. It was picked up by the Guardian and Sky News. As a consequence, the Habitat press office contacted me this week to apologise for the matter, and asked me to post this on their behalf. Here’s what they said:

I know people have been waiting for a response tweet from us; we are treating this very seriously and wanted to offer a longer message.
We have been reading everyone’s comments carefully and would like to make a very sincere apology to any Twitter users who were offended.

The top ten trending topics were pasted into hashtags without checking with us and apparently without verifying what all of the tags referred to. This was absolutely not authorised by Habitat. We were shocked when we discovered what happened and are very sorry for the offence that was caused. This is totally against our communications strategy. We never sought to abuse Twitter, have removed the content and will ensure this does not happen again.

It has been really valuable to hear how users would like us to use Twitter and we are determined to do better for the Twitter community.

Habitat Head Office


The comments at Social Media Today prompted the Habitat Press Office to respond with some more detail – it was an intern who was doing the hashtags and tweets.


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  • @habitatuk Fail comms management. Blaming an intern is low. One bad apple, eh? Lack of proper training and/or proper management/culture. Try this http://blogcouncil.org/disclosure/ (from @Gaspedal #Blogwell)

  • It is interesting that the intern or most junior team member is increasingly being blamed for social media faux pas.

    It says a lot that many organisations and agencies see online engagement as something that can and should be done by the most junior team member (a mistake in my book).

    Any comms department should know that anything an intern does for them that is public facing represents the organisation. It shouldn't be a valid excuse to distance yourself from their actions simply by explaining they were an intern. So what? Why wasn't the boss watching them? Who briefed the intern? And why did Habitat think Twitter was such an unimportant channel of comms to its customers that it was ok for such an inexperienced (and apparently wholy unaffiliated) individual to work without being checked in this medium?

  • lucasng

    Holy smokes!
    It has been years since I've seen the 'overenthusiastic intern' excuse.
    What a classic excuse…
    At least they've apologized.
    Good work Tiphereth!

  • Nice work Tiphereth – what you uncovered will be on 'how not to' social media presentations as a case study from here on in ( I am doing one myself and using this).

    I actually believe the Intern story though. I mean, think about it: Whoever operated the feed wasn't a complete beginner as he knew about hash tags. And you'd hope that any professional digital or soc media operator wouldn't be so dumb as to go down this route – same with the Habitat press office itself.

    So the take out unfortunately is that it shows the low priority a lot of companies give to their social media strategy. My guess is the press office didn't 'get' Twitter and so gave it to the new guy in the corner for something to do. Of course, they wouldn't have given press releases or company statements to an Intern.

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  • Nice post Tiphereth!
    Thanks for sharing this. By the way, do you know what's the best to market my site. In Twitter or in Facebook?