Guest Post: Does Faking A Twitter Hack Help Your Brand In Any Way?

Twitter hacking is as common now as indomie noodles. These hacks usually lead to an hour or so of offensive Tweeting followed by numerous retweets from the “hacked” account’s followers and predictably followed by the several notifications from that same hacked account, that the said account has been hacked! #sigh… sounds all rather tedious, doesn’t it?

Indeed, there are legitimate cases of social media accounts being hacked. There are several softwares available online designed to hack into popular social media sites and anybody and their grandmother, can get it. but that’s not where i’m going with this.

This is about those who “hack” their own accounts as a publicity stunt. does it work? is there a backlash? does it affect the brand in anyway?

Sometime in July, a Mexican fast food joint in the US called Chipotle, “hacked” their own account as a publicity stunt. It worked. They picked up more than 4,000 followers and 12,000 retweets.

according to Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative: ““We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people’s attention and make them talk, and it did that. It was definitely thought out: We didn’t want it to be harmful or hateful or controversial.”

And they got what they wanted. they got the attention, they got people talking, and they gained more followers who are potential customers.

Now, let’s bring it home. Welcome to Nigeria, where a celebrity Tweet-blurts something terrible but instead of owning up to their misdeeds, they claim their account was hacked. The idea that “any publicity is good publicity” certainly isn’t new, but it doesn’t hold true in many situations — including this one. get this, any publicist who suggests the use of “hack tricks” to get attention still has a lot to learn about how to use social media, and frankly speaking, doesnt know his/her onions.


In the afore mentioned CHIPOTLE case, the words “Chipotle,” “Twitter,” “fake,” and “hack” were entered into a social media monitoring software program, to gauge the overall impact of the trick. The hundreds of comments from around the Web were evenly divided between strongly negative and positive reactions, with a small number of neutral commenters. But the biting negative comments show some customers were turned off by the trick. Same thing with our “hacked” Nigerian celebrities. yes, they do get attention from the screaming blog headlines, but all you need to do to gauge the overall effect is to check out the comments on those blog posts.

Pulling a prank to get attention is a dangerous move when you have loyal fans who hang on your every word and believe whatever you day. Social media should be used to create genuine connections with your fans and build trust. Fake hacks are anything but authentic and lying to your audience, — even as a harmless joke — is clearly counterproductive to that goal.

Get this! An increase in Twitter followers or face book likes, doesn’t necessarily translate to value! Number of followers or reetweets don’t mean much if they don’t download buy your music or download even the ones you put out for free online. A lot of new followers you get from controversial PR stunts usually follow just to jump on the buzz and not because of a genuine interest in your music.

Finally, brand reputation is built on trust. If you lie to your fans, some folks are going to wonder what else you’re lying about and they’re going to walk away. That’s how this works.






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