Stumped by writers’ block and in search of inspiration for this Passle, I found myself scrolling through my trending Twitter content. 

Then bam. There it was. A poor little innocent bot being ripped to shreds live in my stream.  

The thread all began when a notorious ‘TV star’ tweeted her fury to cult clothing retailer @ASOS when her order was lost in the post.

People were quick to jump to her defence, arguing they had suffered the same fate with previous orders or simply that they would “never order from ASOS” again.

However, trigger words such as ‘order’ were generating responses such as “Sorry to hear you’re unhappy. Please DM us with your registered email address and we will look into your order for you.” 

This only infuriated the Tweeters more, as they continued to throw insults at the brand by lashing out on the bot. 

This was bad for ASOS. Really, really bad.  

The bot’s automated responses were repeated throughout the thread, just with a different name. The lack of human intervention would become damaging pretty quickly if someone didn’t step in soon. How long would it take ASOS to realise their brand was being totally hijacked live on one of the biggest social media platforms? 

And more importantly, how do you recover from something like that?

Ever had one of those moments when you’re not quite sure if you’re talking to a bot or a real-life person? Bots can have personalities - they can be warm, friendly, funny or straight up rude. They can even demonstrate political bias.

This article talks about how Twitter is cracking down on automated, repetitive responses, but it may not get to the root of the problem.  

Perhaps the lesson to be learnt by ASOS is that bots can be great for helping customers on their website - as I’ve previously gushed about  - but leaving them to their own devices out in the unknown, unpredictable world of unhappy Tweeters can be pretty calamitous…

And when it goes wrong, it’s not just damaging for the bot’s self-esteem (sorry, I had to) but also your brand.