Twitter has quickly become the go-to marketing tool for many companies. From creating brand accounts, communicating news or changes in the company, to featuring company-generated hashtags in commercials and TV shows, it seems that everywhere we look we are being “gently nudged” towards the internet’s little blue bird. Unfortunately for marketers, relying heavily on social media can sometimes backfire because as it turns out, the public can have a mind of its own.
Twitter allows “promoted” posts, hashtags, and targeted ads, all utilized by marketers looking to get their brand names in front of individual users. Sometimes, though, individuals can use the promoted hashtags in ways that the company might not have expected. An example of this happened recently, when the #Obamaisnotsatan hashtag became popular after users noticed an interesting resemblance between the Satan character in the History Channel’s The Bible and our president.
According to an article by Adweek, “In the latest example of how marketers are using Twitter’s Promoted Tweets to jump on digital chatter as it happens, the AARP and Seamless… have gotten numerous ad impressions from consumers clicking on an #ObamaIsNotSatan hashtag. But this one has an unusually bizarre twist—even beyond the hashtag’s content—in that the marketers who purchased the ads probably only bid on the keyword ‘Obama’ rather than the randomness that is ‘ObamaIsNotSatan’…. And #ObamaIsNotSatan has sat atop Twitter’s trending topics section for much of Monday. Viewers who clicked on the hashtag have either seen a Social Security-focused ad from AARP or breezier copy about a soup-and-sandwich lunch from Seamless”.
This may seem like it would present a major setback to AARP and Seamless. Luckily, not all rogue hashtags are bad. This actually worked out well for AARP. The article continues, “It’s arguable that there’s nothing wrong with these ad impressions. That would especially seem to be the case for AARP, since many tweets around the hashtag have been pro-Obama. And because the org clearly wants the Democratic president to protect Social Security financing for its constituents, one could reasonably surmise that there’s positive association happening for the brand”.
Many top business executives believe in the idea that high risk equals high rewards. The unreliability, variability, and individuality associated with social media can make heavy usage, or any level of utilization, very risky in marketing plans. There are certainly examples of companies who made social media missteps, ultimately resulting in consumer backlash. And while it’s true that users ultimately determine the direction of the social media world, sometimes that surprising direction can benefit companies in ways they couldn’t even predict.