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Brands in Panic Mode
By: Kevin Weaver
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In the last couple of weeks we have seen the power of social media and how quickly its effects on a brand's image can take place. First, there was the whole fiasco at the Super Bowl when the lights went out. Oreo capitalized on the opportunity with their now-famous tweet and graphic stating, "You can still dunk in the dark." People everywhere ate it up. Pun intended. 

On the flip side, Burger King and Jeep both hit the panic button as both brands' Twitter accounts were hacked. Burger King's logo was replaced with the McDonald's logo and tweets stating that the brand had been sold to the golden arches along with other obscene tweets were broadcasted for thousands to see over the course of an hour before the account was suspended. This started around lunchtime and the site wasn't re-authenticated again until 9 p.m. that evening.

Jeep suffered a similar fate with tweets claiming that the company had been sold to Cadillac, but the account was quickly shut down after 10 minutes and only 13 tweets.

If there is anything we can learn from these three examples, it's that social media is not an 8 to 5 job. It's a 24/7 gig. What Oreo, Jeep, and Burger King have done is remind us that social media can present great opportunities for publicity or cause a crisis in a matter of minutes. Whether a brand is scrambling to deal with a hacked account or it's reacting to an event in real-time, timing is everything.

I know that I've mentioned it before, but it seems worth bringing it up again; brands using social media must remain vigilant and keep a close eye on all of their social mediums. Jeep and Burger King aren't the first brands to suffer from a social networking hijacker. Last year LinkedIn had 6.4 passwords stolen. 

Apart from taking so long to suspend Burger King's account, both BK and Jeep handled the situations well. They said all of the right things and addressed the issue publicly. Enlightening and informing your customers in situations like this can help with customer retention. Consumers don't appreciate being left in the dark.

We live in a digital age with digital crime. Social media marketers may have a little trouble sleeping at night as they periodically check their accounts to make sure that nothing is amiss.  Kirk Cheyfitz, CEO of Post Advertising, said it best: "We all know social media is a real-time sport, not to be attempted by those who can't work weekends or nights." 


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About the Author
Kevin Weaver is a marketing professional in Wichita, KS with two years of experience. Past and present work includes email marketing compaigns, client e-store development, social media, and destination marketing.
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