By Sultan Riaz | Marketing Coordinator
If you were lucky enough to be on Twitter Monday afternoon, you likely witnessed the aftermath of Burger King’s Twitter account being hacked by the international hacktivist group Anonymous. Some marketing pundits are going so far as call this a “PR disaster.” Hyperbole aside, I agree that Burger King has a big task on its hands to ensure this type of situation never happens again.
That said I don’t foresee the #failurewhopper Twitter hack hurting Burger King’s business or reputation in the long term.
The nuances of the hack have been analyzed over and over, so there is no reason to go into them in this post. (The company has since apologized for the confusion caused by its Twitter account being compromised.) What’s important, however, is to examine what impact, if any, the hack will have on the company’s brand affinity with consumers.
When I first noticed the Burger King account hack the company had about 82,000 followers. A quick glance at BK’s follower count at Twitter, as of noon EST Tuesday (Feb. 19) shows the company has a little more than 112,000 followers. That’s an increase of 30,000 followers in just a few hours. That’s 30,000 new people, both current and potential customers, that the company can now engage, inform and influence through its Twitter account.
More importantly, it is unlikely many of those 30,000 will remember the hack after a few weeks. Burger King now has a great opportunity to turn them into brand advocates — if it plays the situation smartly and proactively, which it appears to be doing. After working through the various channels to get the account suspended so that Anonymous no longer had control over its profile, Burger King’s first post-hack tweet contained the perfect amount of wit and humility to win back fans and followers:
Looking at the Anonymous hack from a purely strategic standpoint, how many of Burger King’s loyal customers will stop consuming the company’s burgers, fries and other food because of this supposed “Twitter disaster”? The answer is most likely none.
The reality of the situation is Burger King has gained 30,000 new Twitter followers — 30,000 potential brand ambassadors — that will see its promotions and potentially spread the company’s message. They say pictures are worth a thousand words; well, the picture below is worth 2,576 retweets and 993 followers who favorite Burger King’s response.
A “Twitter disaster”? Hardly. More likely a learning opportunity about how to turn a potentially negative online marketing situation into a brand-building positive.