It's only their PR skills that died at Thorpe Park yesterday
If you're a consumer-facing company, whether or not you bother with Twitter should be a no-brainer. Customers are able to discuss your brands and your products in public - they're may be praising them, but you can be sure they'll criticise them given the slightest provocation. So as a business, you have a choice; ignore the criticism and let it spread, or be part of the conversation to provide balance, support customers and correct mistruths.
Thorpe Park are on Twitter but their etiquette leaves a lot to be desired - to the point where they've been threatening teenage girls.
Avid Bitterwallet reader Kip got in touch with us about an incident that occurred yesterday. A Twitter user mentioned there had been a fatality on a ride at the theme park; the original tweet appears to have disappeared, but from the reaction of those involved, it doesn't appear to have been sent with any malice. They were simply repeating a rumour that turned out to be untrue, but not before several other Twitter users responded and forwarded on the message.
It's this repetition that caught the attention of Thorpe Park PR, who responded in typical knee-jerk reaction by sending a denial and veiled threat to anyone who mentioned it:
Aside from Thorpe Park not being able to spell, the Twitter users they repeatedly menace for libelling them are teenagers; specifically fans of X Factor finalists One Direction. They're kids - presumably Thorpe Park's target market. That doesn't stop the theme park's PR team going on to harass another two teenage girls:
You may think anyone claiming to be a fan of One Direction deserves the heavy-handed approach, but the fact is there were plenty of different ways Thorpe Park could have handled themselves instead of threatening teenagers. The PR people are right - it's not a rumour you want circulating unchallenged - but Twitter users usually prove to be their own checks and balances. A lighter approach reassuring people that no deaths had occurred would have easily quelled the rumours - senselessly shouting about libel over and over again is only going to cause further attention.
So back to where we came in. Engaging customers - and potential customers - on Twitter is easy enough to do. Doing it well, without menacing overtones of douchebaggery, is considerably harder.