Perhaps one of the questions that we hear most these days is how businesses should embrace social media.

We have migrated from “We need a website” to “We need to get more people to our website” and are now firmly into “crikey – can you help me make sense of all this social media stuff and what should we be doing with twitter as everyone tells us it is important and we just don’t know where to start and how on earth can we possibly keep tabs on what people are saying about us and what should we do about it…”.

You probably get the picture and the mild sense of panic may well be familiar to a lot of our readers.

The truth is that there are a number of different approaches for organisations looking at social media as a method to engage with their target audience.

There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ approach to social media and the most appropriate approach will depend on a number of factors, most notably the resource that is available to dedicate to the activity.

There are, however, clear examples of how not to do it and @VodafoneUK must surely scoop the award for the most spectacular twitter howler of recent weeks / months for their infamous post to their 9,000 followers:


It is not clear exactly what happened but it demonstrates how empowering employees can backfire (it doesn’t appear to be any form of hacked account) in spectacular fashion in an alarmingly short period of time.

Credit where it is due – Vodafone responded individually to all those tweeters who reacted with a message of “We’re really sorry. A severe breach of rules by staff in our building, dealing with that internally. Please keep your faith in us.”

Perhaps it actually demonstrates a human face to a big corporation, which is no bad thing although this particular incident is likely to be perceived as a bit too human.

It is interesting to watch the evolution of social media and there will undoubtedly be some more own goals in the coming months that will demonstrate that immediate / powerful reach can be very potent, but equally lethal.