Driving Social Business, Championing Innovation, & Inspiring Creativity

Smart Social Marketing or Stupid Decision Making?

If you’ve been online in the past 48 hours I am sure you’ve heard the buzz about a band of digital assailants that are hijacking several notable brands Twitter accounts.  It all began yesterday with the Burger King Twitter account falling victim to a hacker(s) that turned the channel into a faux McDonalds account for several hours.  The hacker(s) we’re quick to turn out some degrading content which would make any brand squeamish to be associated with.  From the looks of things it appears the hackers might have caught Burger Kings social team and or social agency off for Presidents Day, due to the fact that this account was left compromised for several hours before Twitter was notified to go in and disable it. If you’re curious to see how the Burger King debacle played out,  give this play by play from My Community Manager (www.mycmgr.com) a quick perusal.

I am happy to report that later that afternoon Burger King was able to regain control of their Twitter account and responded to their fans (including 30,000+ new followers gained in just a few hours) with a touch of class and humor.

While the burger giant was now again in control, it appears that this same hacker(s) was able to commandeer the Jeep Twitter account this morning, and deploy a similar set of renegade tactics (posting inappropriate images, posting vulgar commentary, and claiming that Jeep sold out to Cadillac) which caused yet another internet swirl.  For a brief synopsis of this web heist check out Business Insider’s story on the event.  I applaud both Burger King and Jeep for the fun and supportive back and forth between brands that occurred after both accounts were restored to their rightful owners.


It appears that some brands we’re all too eager for the opportunity to “get hacked” at took it upon themselves to plan their own Twitter heist. MTV and BET (both owned by Viacom) thought they would cash in on the social conversation by planning a hack of their own.  At some point this afternoon both Twitter Handles swapped branded imagery, and began tweeting that they’d been hacked.


This timely ploy by marketers at both networks certainly allowed them to jump in on the social chatter around hacking, but it quickly backfired.  Much of the sentiment around this stunt turned sour quickly once it was discovered that this was farce, and in the wake of other brands who had just been hacked for real.  In my opinion the only humorous thing that transpired from this MTV / BET botched marketing tactic was this reaction from the Denny’s social team.

The last 48 hours in the social space has given me a couple of things to think about.  I feel strongly that current social media environment requires brands to think smarter, act more quickly, and produce content which gives them a seat at the table within relevant main stream conversations.  I do not believe this new “real time” social environment means that brands should forget about acting ethically and with integrity at all times.  While the intentions behind the MTV / BET faux hack were more than likely innocent, I still question the decision making around this stunt, and why a brand would chance painting itself with the brush of negativity in the era when social media can make sentiment around a brand pull an about face in an instant.

What are your thoughts on the recent Twitter hacks?  Real or Faux?

How do you feel about MTV’s /BET’s attempt to garner a share of the social conversation through this timely stunt?


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