Since the rise of social media, we have seen several examples of how misusing it can lead to the image of a brand being tarnished. There are lists all over the internet detailing some of the most interesting examples of this, I’ve even written a few myself, but yesterday we saw something different happen in the world of social media.
Previously, most of the social media disasters have either been offensive in nature or controversial off the cuff tweets that were met with criticism from all areas, but the hacking of the Burger King Twitter feed yesterday seems to have resulted in the opposite. I’m not for one minute saying that BK will be glad that their feed got hacked, nor will they be wanting it to happen again, but the result could have been a lot worse.
The hack took place yesterday at around 5pm London time and went on for a couple of hours before the account was later suspended, either by Twitter or BK themselves. Users first started noticing the strange tweets coming from the burger chain’s account when their profile picture changed to the McDonald’s symbol and it was ‘announced’ that the company depicted by the iconic golden arches had bought out their rivals Burger King. For a few moments there was confusion at this bizarre and surprising statement but it soon became apparent that something wasn’t quite right.
Other users started tweeting about what was happening over on the BK feed, telling their followers to ‘get over there now’ to enjoy the comedy tweets that were being posted. And what followed thereafter left everybody in no doubt at all that there was no member of Burger King staff behind the humorous tweets. Nor was it anything to do with McDonalds as they later tweeted denying any connection to the incident but that were empathetic towards their fast food rivals.
It seemed that the group of people that were taking responsibility were from the Twitter address @DFNCTSC and they soon moved from attempting to tarnish BK’s reputation to trying to build their own. Including their friends’ Twitter addresses and posting underground music videos, they attempted to increase other people’s followings in the way that they had ironically increased Burger King’s through the hacking of their feed. As other users started to realise, this stunt was quickly making Burger King big news and even started to seem like a good piece of technology PR on behalf of the burger franchise.
Not only were people talking about Burger King for what was jokingly said to be ‘the first time ever online’, they were also trending worldwide, creating a lot of interest and sending a lot of followers their way. Although some of the things that were tweeted were not the most savoury and seemed to insinuate a few things about the employees of Burger King, it was so obviously a hack and therefore minimal damage would have been done. The social media world didn’t seem to be taking the tweets personally or attributing them to Burger King but were instead seeing the funny side of the hacking.
This is something that BK obviously realised themselves as they finally broke the silence a few hours later and tweeted that it had been an ‘interesting day’ and that they hope their new followers would ‘stick around.’ No apology was offered largely due to the fact that it seemed to be something totally out of their hands and also they probably didn’t want to dilute the interest that had been created.
All in all, it seems that this incident has proved that not all social media disasters have to be catastrophic to the image of the company they affect and that Burger King even look to have come out of it positively. Large numbers of new followers were gained, interest was created from every corner of the social media world and a lot of Twitter users are now a lot more familiar with the underground music scene than they ever were. Burger King themselves seem to have seen the funny side of the incident and will no doubt enjoy the fruits of the hackers’ labours. Just another day in the mixed up world of social media.