Why Hack Burger King? Authenticity in Social Media Matters

A photo of burgers and fries

Photo of a burger and fries

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Earlier this week, Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked. At 12:01 p.m. Tuesday, the account proclaimed, “We just got sold to McDonalds! Look for McDonalds in a hood near you…” The @BurgerKing account remained active for the next hour, streaming out sometimes vulgar but mostly incomprehensible tweets, before it was shut down. Tech and media news sites including Mashable and TechCrunch delivered the story as it happened, and did not miss an opportunity to point out how yet another corporate web breach had gone hilarious.

Besides the obvious security lesson, there are takeaways from this minor digital fiasco when we examine what makes these absurd messages so funny. The Burger King corporate account lacked defining character, which made it a comical ventriloquist dummy. Monotonous communications about new items or deals did not do much to foster a community or to draw in new users. In fact, the hijacking brought 15,000 new followers to Burger King’s Twitter, which had probably never seen such a high level of attention online before. Communication with the public through social media doesn’t have to be difficult, but organizations need to know that they should not need to fake their way to reach an audience.

Writing with authenticity and providing value in social media communication can be a powerful tool to foster the best support for your organization. Use these tips to help strengthen your presence online:

 1. Understand why people follow you – or why they should

Use this information to deliver value, whatever that means for your public. You can inform followers about your niche, share exciting news, offer deals, or just entertain.

2. Remain authentic and transparent: Show some personality!

Feigned enthusiasm and tedious messages won’t attract attention or start a conversation. Be funny, thoughtful, serious, candid, or anything else you find to be appropriate for your audience, but remember that you are writing to them.

 3. Be social: Interact with and respond to followers

Social media is built around engagement and conversation. Take advantage of the platform to educate, start dialogue, and react to the online landscape. Otherwise, there isn’t anything particularly social about your social media.

While each audience is different, you can use these guidelines to reexamine or create your organizations social media initiatives. Keeping your followers in mind as you reach out can help guide your overall communications. The feedback you receive from your followers can be as useful as these direct tips.

Ben Elkind is an Integrated Marketing Associate at Otherwise Incorporated

Photo credit: joo0ey