Sunday, February 05, 2012

Toyota's Super Bowl Twitter promotion turns into a spam-fest

Super Bowl Sunday is the day to advertise. In this age of social media, that includes Twitter. However, the Twitter promotion that Toyota executed became a spam-fest for Twitter users Tweeting about Super Bowl XLVI.

Toyota created several accounts, all of which were involved in sending Tweets to people about what the company is calling the “Camry Effect a Friend’ Giveaway!” It's a chance to win a Toyota Camry for youself and a friend. The Twitter campaign was a chance for Toyota to succeed, but instead they created a big Twitter Fail Whale.

Toyota created a number of accounts, @CamryEffect, @CamryEffect1, @CamryEffect2, @CamryEffect3, @CamryEffect4, and @CamryEffect5 (maybe more, too). Twitter went so far as to cooperate by verifying the account, something that requires some "juice" to get done nowadays.

Those accounts would reply to Tweets about the Super Bowl, with messages about the "Camry Effect" promotion. While the accounts were verified, the sheer number of messages mean they could only be categorized as spam. Eventually, Twitter users reported them as spam, and while it took some time, eventually things happened.

The Twitter accounts involved in the spamming are now “private,” meaning you have to follow them to see their Tweets. In addition, the company sent out the following apology:

"We apologize to anyone in the Twitterverse who received an unwanted @reply over the past few days. We were excited to share the message of our Camry Effect campaign in a new way and it was never our intention to displease anyone.

"We’ve certainly learned from this experience and have suspended the accounts effective immediately to avoid any additional issues.

"Kimberley Gardiner, National Digital Marketing & Social Media Manager, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc."

It's not the first Twitter FUBAR and it won't be the last. Just a short time ago, a McDonald's Twitter campaign failed. In that case, McDonald's created the hashtag #McDStories. Once it did so, the Twitterverse was assailed, not with positive stories about McDonald's, but rather with negative ones.

In that case, however, only the company suffered. End users were the ones slamming McDonald's. In this case, it was end users who were spammed by Toyota's ad campaign.

Hey, social media is still new, and companies are still learning. Let's hope they learn quickly.

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