This past week Chipotle Restaurants became the latest major brand to post their own series of fake Twitter hacks. The Tweets, which included not-so-subtle references to their guacamole ingredients, were part of a 20th anniversary series of promotions.
As a communications strategy, it is wrongheaded on a variety of levels. First, while the company gained thousands of followers, most probably won’t stick around once the excitement cools. Twitter followers are a fickle bunch: they come and go and the real metric is the engagement of these followers. How many are retweeting? How many are actually reading and responding? (I know I can do better in this department, too.)
Second, this doesn’t help to build trust or brand loyalty (something analogous to a current New York City mayoral candidate’s online activities). When the next Big Tweet comes around, do you want your followers thinking this is just another stunt or something that is worthy of one’s time?
PR stunts like this one are really only good for one-time use, as in one time for everyone. Chipotle is far behind others that have tried this one, and the lesson should be: move on to something else here. Find something that is more clever and actually has meaning for your brand.
Also, Twitter hacks – the real ones – aren’t something to joke about, because chances are your account can be easily compromised. This is the case if you are using a relatively weak password or several Official Tweeters share your account. It is great that Twitter became the latest to use two-factor authentication earlier this year: if you haven’t done so, go to your account and mobile settings to add your mobile phone as the second factor. But corporate users should practice better password hygiene policies and spend some time thinking through who has access to the business Twitter accounts.
Finally, if you are going to use social media to promote your brand, don’t rely on a single channel but coordinate amongst all your channels, including the Web and email lists too. You want to reach your entire audience and customer base, not just the folks that might be tuning in to your Tweets on a random Sunday afternoon.