Debenhams marks Twitter channel launch…with dismissive swipe at Twitter

This utter non-story, reporting Debenhams’ revolutionary and unique use of some strange new device called Twitter, from the Torygraph has been amusing me during my lunch hour.

The tone of the article is the first thing to bear in mind (Twitter is apparently a source of ‘gossip and blogging’); the fact that there are dozens of stores already using Twitter is second; and the way that Debenhams spokesman Ed Watson rubbishes Twitter in his first quote is the third.

“Rather than finding out the latest celebrity tittle tattle we’re going to use Twitter to provide customers with instant customer service,” beams Ed, basically dismissing the whole enterprise at the first bang of the starting pistol.

If that’s what you believe is Twitter is all about why on Earth would you think it was worth bothering with in the first place? Rob ‘No Relation’ Brown goes into more detail.

In fairness to Debenhams, it has grasped the opportunity to create an interactive profile on Twitter, rather than a feed of its latest offers.

In doing this it has negotiated the first hurdle to using the social media network, unlike the vast majority of new businesses taking a first foray into social media – most of them resembling new-born fawns stumbling around in an unforgiving forest.

Debenhams’ idea is to allow customers to tweet directly to shop floor workers at its Oxford Street branch. But reports also include the following statement:

Twitter users not in store can also ask questions, which Debenhams hopes will encourage them to visit the sale at a later date.

All of which indicates that Debenhams’ Twitter experiment is designed to be used by shoppers already in the store.

In-store shoppers can attract the attention of a shop-floor worker if they @ the Debenhams Twitter account and include the #debtwtasst hashtag. Here’s Watson again:

Instant communication with our customers as they do their shopping is a tremendous asset. We intend to develop this approach for the future.

I’m all for early adoption of new technologies that actually assist people in leisure and work, but when it comes to tweeting someone who may be a matter of feet away from me I can’t help feeling that something has gone very wrong.

Celebrity tittle tattle never seemed so attractive.

Update: Anyone following the hashtag debtwtasst will know that precisely zero uses of the idiotic Debenhams Twitter experiment were ever seen. Shock