What made Wendy’s Twitter zing a win?
Social media has changed how brands communicate with their customers, not just in terms of where and how they interact with them, but in the voice they use. While this might be conventional wisdom, retailers don’t always have the opportunity to see it in practice as clearly as with Wendy’s recent Twitter gamble — which was a big win.
The Twitter interaction, as reported in The Washington Post, began with a user mockingly questioning the brand’s claim that it uses burgers that are “fresh, never frozen” by asking how a non-frozen burger could be shipped on a truck which is, presumably, warm. Wendy’s tweeted back, “Where do you store cold things that aren’t frozen?” And as the trolling Twitter user tried to return fire, Wendy’s kept up the zings, continuing to call into question the aggressor’s knowledge of refrigeration.
The move brought applause from Twitter followers (and a closed Twitter account from the user). And this high-profile case of reverse-heckling is not, according to The Washington Post, Wendy’s first social media melee. The social media manager at Wendy’s, Amy Brown, is well-known for amusing the fast food chain’s fans and eviscerating its critics. In fact, she got the position after trolling the Wendy’s vice president of advertising on Twitter.
But Ms. Brown’s success as what one might call a “white hat troll” doesn’t necessarily mean that retailers should approach every social media interaction with such moxie. In a world where the tiniest social media gaffe can go out of control, there are many recent examples of brands suffering for not knowing where to draw the line.
Cheerios, for instance, attempted to join the wave of internet mourning in the wake of rock star Prince’s death with a purple “rest in peace” graphic done in the brand’s iconic lettering (and with a Cheerio dotting the “i.”). The tweeted graphic struck internet audiences as being shallow, opportunistic and trying too hard to be hip.
- So who’s behind all those snarky tweets from @Wendy’s? – The Washington Post
- Cheerios’ Tweet on Prince is Latest Brand Faux Pas – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should otherwise buttoned-down brands use humor and sarcasm with followers on outlets like Twitter? What makes Wendy’s use of a sarcastic voice on Twitter a “win” while other brands might fail doing the same thing?