Moonfruit Accuses Twitter of Pulling Viral Campaign

Twitter manually removed, or “censored,” the #moonfruit hashtag from its trending topics list on Friday without reason or explanation, according to Moonfruit.

In celebration of its 10th birthday, the DIY Web site technology firm was giving Twitter users the chance to win laptops simply by including the brand in their updates on the social network. The competition sent the company straight to the top of Twitter’s trending topics list last Thursday, where it remained until late Friday when, according to Moonfruit Marketing Director Wendy Tan, Twitter manually removed it from the list.

Writing on the company’s blog, Tan said, “We didn’t want to dominate Twitter for 10 days, or push important subjects like Iran off the agenda… So if Twitter had come to us and said, ‘guys, enough is enough’, then we would have worked with them to limit the campaign, or complied with whatever they were demanding. However, if they have pulled the trending without explanation or communication, this sets rather a different tone.”

Tan cites evidence from third party Twitter trend tracking services Twist and, both of which show Moonfruit ranking higher than other trending topics such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and women’s finalists Serena and Venus Williams.

Although she concedes removing the brand from the social network was “the right thing for Twitter,” Tan argues that taking such action without notice undermines the platform’s integrity and its potential as a marketing channel.

“What would help me is a clear understanding of what happened, and therefore what the new ‘rules of the game’ are going forward. What does this mean for topics on Twitter? What does it mean for marketers? If we were removed as ‘spam,’ when did we become spam, was it ok for the first few days, just not after?,” she asks.

Speaking with ClickZ last week, Tan said she was “overwhelmed” by how well the campaign was going, and was praising the ROI she had achieved in such a short space of time via the social network. “We wanted to drive both brand awareness and direct response, but this has achieved both in a far more personal way,” she said at the time. In the first two days she claimed the promotion drove a 600 percent lift in traffic to the Moonfruit site, and doubled the number of users signing up for trials of its services.

Today however, she questioned why Twitter would hinder what could prove a commercial, revenue generating channel in the future. “Maybe we’ve touched a nerve,” she said.

According to a Moonfruit spokesperson, Twitter has not yet responded to its correspondence regarding their actions.

Twitter did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

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