Why Getting Hacked Isn't All Bad
Last week hackers took over Burger King's Twitter account, changing the picture to a McDonalds logo, cracking jokes about the company being sold to its rival, posting photos of drug use and making plenty of inappropriate comments, untill Twitter suspended the account and restored it to Burger King's control.
Later in the week, Jeep was taken over by what appeared to be the same hacker.
Those two companies faced some serious embarrassment across the Internet, and some of the material may have upset and offended some customers, but I believe in the long run the hack is actually a good thing.
Burger King began the day with somewhere around 80,000 followers, suffered about an hour of embarrassment, and as a result gained approximately 30,000 new followers. While most of those new followers are not there for the reasons Burger King would have chosen, they have opted in to be part of Burger King's audience, and now there is an opportunity to get every one of them into a Burger King restaurant. The only mention of the attack currently on Burger King's page is this:
"Interesting day here at BURGER KING®, but we're back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!"
So far they largely have, but will they last?
I was surprised that Burger King only had 80,000 followers before the hack, it seems small for such a major global brand, but looking at the company's tweets before and after the hack I think I can see why. I believe Twitter is best used with a laid back conversational tone. The fleeting nature of messages means self-promoting broadcasts are often never seen. One-on-one conversation is more likely to make an impact.
Burger King has only sent a handful of @mention tweets in the last month. Why not use Twitter to interact with fans, giving away free fries and sodas, and responding to customer complaints? By default, Twitter hides replies so the casual person won't see all that activity anyway. The 30,000 new followers are probably mostly Internet savvy people who were more interested in what the hackers were saying than shout outs to Burger King products. Also typing the brand name and product names in all capital letters with the registered trademark symbol is not necessary and will probably turn people off even more quickly.
Related story: How to Find New Customers Using Twitter Searches