#TwitterHack2013: The Week of Brand-Hacked Twitter Accounts

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Burger King was the topic of conversation amongst social media aficionados yesterday after hackers took over the brand’s official Twitter account. On a slow President’s Day, the story quickly garnered lots of attention, with blogs and newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Boston Globe reporting on the hack.

Mandatory “lessons learned from the Burger King Twitter hack”-type posts followed suit, and by mid-afternoon today the entire episode was fading away. Then this happened:

jeep-twitter-takeover-full

Another brand’s official Twitter account – this time Jeep’s – was hacked, seemingly by the same person. The media jumped on the case once again, with attention-grabbing headlines like this one from Gizmodo: “Exclusive: The Burger King and Jeep Hacker Is Probably This DJ From New England.”
Just minutes later, the Twitter accounts for both MTV and BET appeared to have been compromised as well. But according to AdAge, the MTV/BET hack was “merely a joke following up on the Twitter account hacks of Jeep and Burger King.”
So, here comes the inevitable question numerous have already addressed: what should social media managers take away from Twitter’s recent events? Here are our thoughts:

  1. Remember your brand’s reputation. Luckily for Burger King and Jeep, it was immediately apparent that their Twitter accounts had been hacked. No one thought for a second that these well-established brands would take to Twitter the way the hacker(s) did. It was obvious that the accounts had been breached, so the brands’ reputations weren’t truly damaged.

 

  1. A sense of humor is key. Burger King chose to make light of the hack by welcoming their new followers (the fast food chain gained approximately 30,000 in one day). McDonald’s tweeted a cheeky claim of innocence – and Cadillac did the same. Like Oreo’s clever Super Bowl tweet, a smart quip gives brands a unique chance to engage with their audience.

 

  1. Just don’t take that sense of humor too far. Although some may praise MTV & BET for acting quickly in response to the second Twitter hack in 24 hours, others will likely feel duped and annoyed that the accounts pretended to be hacked. It’s extremely important to be honest and transparent at all times; you don’t want to become known as “the brand who cried wolf.”

 

  1. Look on the bright side. Dozens of articles will be written about these brands in the next few hours – on top of the dozens that have already been published. Burger King and Jeep will likely also continue to gain followers as a result of the hacks, and people will be keeping a close eye on Twitter to see what brand will fall victim next. In the end, a simple Twitter hack isn’t going to hurt anyone – it just gives us social media enthusiasts one more thing to analyze.
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