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Burger King Twitter Feed Hacked, They're Loving it: Positive Results by the Numbers

spot the differnce

Many people will tell you that Burger King's Twitter account being hacked is negative for their brand, but let's look at the numbers.

Crisis situations are off to a strong start this year, especially when it comes to large brands and social media. On February 18 the fast food giant Burger King had their account hacked (various have claimed it, none officially confirmed), and after about an hour of the hacker joyriding on their feed, the account was suspended. Prior to the suspension, the account was converted into a mirror image of @mcdonalds, and began posting shoutouts to rappers, odd images, and some other random bits. Details are still fuzzy about who did it and why; however, we do know that there were likely more positive results from this situation than negative.

Unlike the other real social media crisis situations, Burger King's account manager was not outright at fault (unless they just handed the account over, but doubtful), and realistically there are only a few things you can prepare for in these situations. But I'll leave the punditry to other people, and be optimistic about this because Burger King was not at fault.

The following are some rough estimates and things to take into account, all of which @burgerking was able to gain free of charge.

Cost for a daily trending topic on Twitter: $200,000

Promoted tweets cost-per-click: Between .50 - $1.50. times the amount of retweets and clicks the rouge account received

Promoted Twitter account:  Between .50 - $2.50 per follower gained, with at least 20,000 new followers gained from the situation

Time, human resources, and even probable agency involvement to produce such attention grabbing content: Invaluable. See W+K's Old Spice campaign and Oreo's Super Bowl social media case studies.

Press generated from social campaign: Invaluable as it does not happen frequently

Estimated total via data from Keyhole

225k tweets x $1.5 CPE = ~$337,000
+ 216k link clicks x $1.5 CPE = ~$324,000
+ 20k new followers x $2 CPF = $40,000
+ trending topic = $200k
= $900,000+

Though Burger King's social team or agency may have a need for a few additional beers , after organizing a simple apology they could immediately play the situation off and keep the attention going. The kind of press and attention they will receive as a result of the hack would have required nearly a $1,000,000 campaign investment, so if they play their cards right a negative can be turned into a positive.

With this said, we'll just have to wait and see what Burger King will do.

Data and Mentions

Thanks to my friends over at Keyhole, there is now some awesome data to support my claim as well.

Ripple Effect

The ripple effect of course will stretch far, but these two tweets say it all.

And they are back in action:

Finally, MTV and BET tried to make it appear like their accounts were hacked as well, but Buzzfeed and @emilcDC quickly noticed that their social media managers provided a warning shot. This of course shifted the initial shock to slight humor, and then on to anger about MTV not actually playing music anymore.


A Larger Issue

With the Burger King situation slowing down, another has appeared. Jeep's Twitter account was also hacked, and from the signs of the content being shared it was from the same group or individual that took over Burger King's feed. Keyhole has started to track the information here, but because this is the second day in a row that such a situation has occurred, it will likely be less about Jeep, and more about Twitter not protecting accounts. However, Jeep has already become a trending topic in the US.


Join The Conversation

  • Feb 20 Posted 3 years ago dianearaB

    Burger King also has its coronary-risking “Suicide Burger,” with four burger patties and cheese slices, as well as a heap of bacon.

  • Mar 21 Posted 4 years ago Don Krause

     I'm trying to find more examples of how a rogue/inappripriate tweet may have benefitted an organzaiton. While many articles have anecdotal information, your article has great information to support the idea that rogue or inappropriate tweets may have a benefit for an organization. Was wondering if you have information on other situations.

  • Elliot Volkman's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago Elliot Volkman

    I completely agree. Social media is an interesting place, and it surely will continue to be developed.

  • Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago DavidKWilliams

    Surely this is just a case of any exposure is good exposure. I think this is the case especially when the organisation at hand is one that is basically an institution in most countries across the globe. When they were hacked, what was posted wasn't too revealing into what Burger King do, it was humorous and though people were probably offended, the draw of attention was phenominal. I'm Social media manager at and would love to pull this stunt with one of my clients to draw attention, but as our clients aren't well known and highly trusted it would probably have the reverse affect it had with BK!

  • AndyFulton425's picture
    Feb 21 Posted 4 years ago AndyFulton425

    This whole hacking saga, particularly the fast food restaurants' tweet banter posted above, just makes me love social media all the more. Thanks for collating this data, Elliott.

  • Feb 21 Posted 4 years ago jeffbeisenberg

    I agree that this turned out to be huge for Burger King. Even people who don't regularly use Twitter seemed to know about the account hacking. And because so many could empathize with an account hacking, no blame was placed on Burger King. I think it became a point of amusement for the day and while it had no inherent positive or negative impact, it brought the brand name for the forefront of public consciousness. That effect is already so difficult to achieve - as a brand marketer, I can't help but feel jealous for all the free publicity!

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