Social media can be hard.
Anyone who doubts this need only look at a few good and bad examples of Twitter usage by corporate brands this past week.
Here, we’ll compare and contrast two short Twitter case studies:
A good rule for effective social media for brands is not to try to capitalize on tragedy.
Unfortunately, that’s just what Cinnabon did last week in the wake of the death of Carrie Fisher.
The actress, who was most famous for her iconic portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, succumbed several days after suffering a heart attack. She was just 60 years old.
Cinnabon thus tweeted this:
Let’s be clear here.
While some may find this clever and funny, it’s inappropriate on two levels:
- The double entendre (“buns”) that ultimately reduces the woman’s lifetime body of work to simply her sex appeal 40 years ago; and
- The bigger issue: that – clever or not – Cinnabon is using her untimely (and unwelcome) death for commercial purposes at all.
Capitalizing on tragedy for commercial gain almost always backfires. And it should.
Then we have Wendy’s, whose Twitter sensibilities have been solid for a long time. Witness this playful interaction with competitor fast food joint Jimmy Johns two years ago:
This was no exception, as Wendy’s social media department was on fire this week as well.
Months ago I wrote about what I referred to as “Twitter 3.0” – the strategic use of intentional mistakes to gain attention and virality.
Direct and clever engagement with trolls counts as an equally formidable variant of this strategy.
On Tuesday, a troll accused Wendy’s of using frozen beef for its burgers. The response from the fast food giant’s social media manager was swift and decisive:
Bravo to the social media team at Wendy’s! (Both the person sending the snarky tweets and their boss, who gave them the latitude to engage so directly with an obvious troll.)
People took notice, and this brief Twitter interaction turned into a huge marketing win for Wendy’s, with wide coverage in media outlets.