Questions raised after Twitter pulls Moonfruit contest

A decision by Twitter to pull a marketing campaign from its top trending topics is the latest move to raise questions about how marketers can use the micro-blogging site.


Twitter pulled website-building company Moonfruit from its top topics list after a campaign offering free MacBook Pros topped the list on the 3 July, knocking other topics, such as Michael Jackson and Iran, further down the list.

At one point it attracted 400 tweets a minute containing moonfruit ( 3 July 2009), but the campaign has come under criticism for spamming the Twitter community.

Moonfruit marketing director Wendy Tan said the company accepted Twitter’s move but called on it to explain the decision in order to inform marketers for future campaigns.

“We pulled the competition early out of respect, but Twitter needs to explain why it did this because the message seems to be that you can do such campaigns as long as you don’t get too big,” said Tan.

Computer manufacturer Dell has been in the spotlight for its ability to monetise its Twitter presence and has made more than $1m from its sales alerts on the site.

Dell’s head of digital media communications EMEA Kerry Bridge said she considered the Moonfruit campaign to be spam. “Twitter should be an extension of relationships with customers and not spamming. It’s a relationship-building tool and companies should stick to that.”

Antony Mayfield, head of social media at digital marketing agency iCrossing, said Twitter’s decision sets a precedent of editorial control in the future. “The most interesting thing is not that it edited this out, but that it edits trending topics at all. It probably did the right thing but it now sets out an editorial agenda. Do trending topics have to be about news? It implicates a value judgement, and if enough of Twitter’s users are okay with it, why shouldn’t Twitter be?”

Ilana Fox, community manager at online fashion retailer ASOS, said it’s important for companies to experiment with campaigns on new platforms such as Twitter. “Because Twitter is a new platform brands will make mistakes and annoy people, but they should be trying out different things. The internet is the place to innovate and others can learn from these mistakes,” she said.

According to Moonfruit, it has 35,593 Twitter followers and traffic to its site increased 600%, with trials of its website-building tool up 350% at the end of the campaign.

Twitter was unavailable to comment.

This story first appeared on

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