UK Uncut protestors outside Boots in London were gassed with CS spray earlier - which prompted the @BootsMealDeal twitter account to tweet: "We at Boots are disgusted by police behaviour today" (screenshot).
The twitter account is now deleted - so was it a fake that's been removed or has Boots panicked about what their social-media employees are up to? (Some more surreal tweets certainly support the idea it's a fake but if anybody has followed the random ramblings of @BetfairPoker it could be argued that all bets are now off on what companies may try to entice social media followers.)
The account's not new - it's been around 18 days according to Topsy.com. And here's a recent tweet on another contentious subject (saved here): "Cannot believe what Melanie Phillips has written about the 'homosexual brainwashing power' of a Boots Meal Deal", which was quickly followed by an apology (and a reply of "The boss deemed it too edgy. :(" to someone who asked why it was deleted), which could add fuel to speculation it may have been genuine, or may simply have been a double bluff. Similarly the account did also claim to offer £10 Boots vouchers for Retweets at one point.
There's certainly no mention of using Twitter on the Boots website that I can find. But Boots is using social media according to this NMA article:
Jane Lefevre, Boots’ online communications manager, said that although the company was already engaging with consumers online, it needed an agency to help the different departments.
“Social media is a fast-expanding area and therefore important that we keep up to date,” she said. “We have a few teams that use it but there has to be a more formal process.”
But there is also no shortage of case studies too of companies who have hit some very real bumps in the road when rolling out a genuine social media strategy. (See KLM, Vodafone (twice), ITV News etc).
(Ed note: Updated - Boots has come out and said the account was not "owned or run by Boots UK". No real surprises there perhaps but it does raise the question as to why, if the account wasn't genuine, a company with the size and resource of Boots didn't move more quickly when the account started to offer Boots vouchers for retweets - something which could have seriously harmed customer loyalty? Similarly, why would they not have registered, even defensively, a Twitter account such as BootsMealDeal?)