As a Brighton resident, I’m proud to live in a city with a Green Party council. And they’re brilliant on Twitter. A few years ago I tweeted them asking if I could plant our verge with wildflowers, and they tweeted back an immediate ‘yes’. I was impressed.
Sadly, while they’re Twitter masters, that’s where the good stuff ends. When someone dumped an old bath full of twisted metal around the corner from our local primary school a year ago, and it stayed there for months, I eventually tweeted the council asking them to take it away. The resulting saga reveals why it’s so important for organisations to join the social media dots.
Brighton & Hove council’s massive marketing fail
I sent my first Twitter DM about the rubbish in March, and got an immediate Direct Message back. Excellent. I waited for the rubbish to go, but nothing happened. 43 more Twitter DMs later, every one of which the council replied to quickly and efficiently, it’s still there.
In the interim I’ve been given three different reference numbers. I was told twice that the rubbish had been removed when it hadn’t. I raised one official complaint, then raised another to complain that my original complaint had been ignored. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
Finally, last week, I got a Twitter DM from a senior person at the council’s waste management department telling me they wouldn’t be removing the rubbish because it was on the grass verge, not the pavement, and they didn’t want to ‘set a precedent’. They’ve passed the matter to their highways department, but I’m sceptical.
The bath is still there, full of twisted metal, filthy rainwater and discarded poop-n-scoop bags of rotting dog shit. Lovely. I am, as you can imagine, disgusted. All that time and effort I spent, and all the resources the council spent not getting to grips with the issue. If you use social media to support your business, you have to join the dots.
P.S – Adding insult to injury
I like to say thank you for good service. It’s so much more satisfying than complaining. Back in the days when I felt warmer towards the council, I sent them a thank-you email detailing all the great things they’ve done for our city. I never got a reply. Not even an acknowledgement. At the time I didn’t think much of it, beyond feeling vaguely disappointed that my thanks had been sent into some sort of communications black hole. Another marketing lesson to learn: when your customers contact you, respond.
P.P.S – Rubbish gone!
Today, 8th August, we noticed a council van taking the rubbish away. Awesome. It’s probably because I sent the story to the Brighton & Hove Independent newspaper, who raised it with them. At last! Thank you to everyone involved.