It’s all about the hacking

There has been a spate of hacking on some pretty big brand social media accounts and it is starting to smell very fishy. Burger King got hacked and gained 30,000 followers, and then Jeep and MTV got hacked the next day.

Now I am sure some of them were real, but at least one was co-ordinated by a marketing exec or a community manager, a team of marketers or social media ninjas of some sort.

Moments before MTV’s twitter account was hacked their overzealous marketing manager let slip that he had prior knowledge of some fun shenanigans about to kick off at MTV HQ. MTV was “Hacked” by BET to promote some kind of live music event, it is obviously important to note that Viacom owns both TV channels.


I don’t think it is naive to suggest that Viacom are not the only marketing/social media team or external agency to throw out a hack as a good exposure tool, but it is a slippery slope.

The importance of social for brands is huge at the moment and trying to hoodwink their fans, followers or brand advocates is not only a bit insulting, it is a really big “look how dumb we think you are” right up in your face.

Now I always think working in comms can distract a person from what the public acknowledge, and I am sure most people won’t give a flying fudge about MTV faking the hacking of their twitter account. But the premise of the action is pretty alarming.

Any brand that has done this is aiming for two outcomes, the “look how cool we are taking this in our stride” factor and a massive jump in followers. It portrays the brand as a friend, you know happy to have a laugh, happy for you to poke fun at it a little bit, then it’s time for a hug and you to buy one of the products. YEAY.

It is a ploy that doesn’t work in any other comms medium and is a dangerous path to go down. Brands shouldn’t make the “friends” move. It is very possible to present a brand effectively on social platforms without being creepy and too over familiar.

But in all seriousness social media can tread a dangerous line between marketing, advertising, public relations and customer services. Some people nail it, this fake hacking stunt did not.


Oh and FYI, if you refer to yourself as a social media ninja you need castrating


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