There is one golden rule of Twitter: if you make a mistake, users will pounce on you. Now some brands are trying to use that fact to their advantage.
In another world, this might be called trolling — saying something you don’t mean just to get a reaction — but because it’s by brands, it’s a strategy. The latest example of that phenomenon is Hostess, the snack food brand, which decided to give its Twitter followers some manufactured outrage to feast on Monday. It shared a tweet about the opening day of the baseball season juxtaposed with a photo that said “touchdown” in bold letters.
“The ‘Touchdown’ line was intentional; it’s fun and aimed at young audiences who are in on the running joke – which, of course, is the goalllll,” Ellen Copaken, senior director of marketing at Hostess Brands, said in an e-mailed statement that may be even more tongue-in-cheek than the original tweet.
For a few hours, Hostess achieved the all-consuming goal of social media managers everywhere: cut through the noise. Even though it had to act like an idiot to do it.
“Everyone is desperate for attention and to get some sort of conversation going,” says Laura Ries, a partner with branding consultancy Ries & Ries. “One thing that people love to do using social media is to criticize. They love to tell them they’re wrong. As a result, you see some deliberately making mistakes.”
J.C. Penney tested the stupid waters last year when it tweeted incoherently, prompting speculation (and plenty of coverage) that the brand’s social media person was either drunk or had been hacked. Instead, the brand said it was tweeting with mittens to market its winter products.
Monster.com, the job search service, made headlines in February of this year when it congratulated the wrong team for winning the Super Bowl — and then poked fun at the inevitable outrage by showing how Monster could be used to help a social media manager find a new job.
Congratulations Seattle from http://t.co/sPr4G1gHup! #biggame pic.twitter.com/eAa59yw1om
— Monster (@Monster) February 2, 2015
There was some initial pushback internally before Monster pursued the idea, according to Matt Anchin, SVP of global communications at Monster. “Mostly would be prepared for the onslaught of Twitter activity,” he says. “If you are going to dive into these waters, you better be able to swim.”
Apparently it paid off: Monster’s intentional gaffe led to a 1,700% increase in engagement compared to its posts on a normal Sunday. Anchin describes the fake mistake tactic as “a tried and true method of getting attention.” He is open to doing it again, but only if it’s a moment that would likely “have significant impact.”
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