Custom Digital Marketing, Social & Interactive Media Consulting

106 & hack'd

Back in mid-February 2013 (i know, try to remember back that far), on the heels of the (very public) hackings of the Burger King and Jeep Twitter feeds, Viacom siblings MTV and BET appeared to be the next corporate Twitter profile victims.
To recap:

Burger King's Twitter feed touted the sale of the fast food chain to rival McDonald's, complete with a McDonald's avatar and header image. While under the control of the hackers, BK's feed included obscenities, racial epithets and drug-use references.

Similarly, Jeep's Twitter feed touted the sale of the Chrysler division to Cadillac. Much like the BK/McD fiasco, Jeep's feed included vulgar tweets and references to drug use while under the hacker's control.
However, all was not lost for Burger King - their Twitter account gained over 30,000 followers while being run by the hackers.

It's likely that stat, combined with the publicity generated by such public hacks, that prompted MTV and BET to give it a whirl.

They decided to fake-hack each other.

They gave it all the appearances of the previous hacks, switching avatar images, changing names and bios to reflect being "hacked" while peppering the Twitter feeds with unusual/out of character tweets (often promoting something from the "hacking" network).

MTV and BET mocked those who "fell for it" by retweeting them.

But something didn't smell right to members of the Twittersphere.

The "hacker" tweets were merely friendly digs at the "hackee" … and both MTV and BET are members of the Viacom family.

Turns out, it was all a joke (using quite a broad definition of the word "joke"). It was a PR stunt cooked up by the social media teams of MTV and BET.

Folks were not amused.

For example:


Others joined in, ripping MTV and BET for such a "lame" stunt, for a weak attempt to "stay relevant" and essentially asking to be hacked (for real) by using a fake hack as a publicity stunt.

Never one to let a comedic opportunity pass him by, Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, threw his hat in the ring, running a story about the BK hack (that it gained followers) and the MTV/BET PR stunt. To skewer the practice, in turn mocking his own parent company (Comedy Central is also a member of the Viacom family), Colbert faked his Twitter feed (@StephenatHome) being hacked by fellow Viacom property VH1 Classic.


The entire bit served to highlight the absurdity of the stunt, and how ridiculous MTV and BET looked for doing it.

The take-away lesson here - Be Authentic.

Trying to 'pull a fast one' or 'get one over' on people is frowned upon in Internetland. Usually that is reserved just for those that vigorously try to hide the fact that something is fake. BET and MTV fessed up to the stunt after just a couple of hours, and they were still taken to task for faking their hack. In trying to be 'cool and edgy' by manufacturing their relevance with a Twitter hack, MTV and BET only showed how out of touch they are, how much they don't 'get it.'


The Big DISH Tweet

From the In Case You Missed It files, a quick lesson.

Kaley Cuoco – aka Penny on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” – recently sent out a paid endorsement tweet, as celebrities and famous internet people are apt to do, endorsing DISH’s Hopper DVR.


As you can see, the tweet was marked with #ad, so that isn’t the issue.  The problem is Cuoco’s employer, CBS, is currently in litigation with DISH over the Hopper DVR.

Oops.  It looks like Cuoco is going against her employer, praising the Hopper while her network is locked in a contentious lawsuit over the Hopper.

The tweet is now gone, and no one in Cuoco’s camp is saying anything more about it.

As an objective, third-party observer, all this appears to be just a misunderstanding.  There seems to be no malice toward CBS, Cuoco doesn’t appear to be slamming her network in praising DISH and their Hopper DVR.  More than likely, she sent out the tweet (compensated by DISH for doing so), someone (probably at CBS HQ) whispered in her ear ‘hey, you know we are suing them, right?’ and she took down the tweet.  No harm, no foul.  Lesson learned.  Let’s move on.

Leave it to the parties in the lawsuit to blow things a bit out of proportion and get their digs in on the other side.

DISH accused CBS of forcing Cuoco to remove the tweet.  CBS said DISH was full of baloney. (Clearly I’m paraphrasing here)

Lost in the catty rhetoric of opposing parties in a lawsuit is a valuable lesson.

In short – Think Before You Tweet

There have been countless tales of Twitter woe, tweeting something to everyone you intended to be private (see Anthony Weiner), posting something in questionable taste or in error (American Apparel & Gap, KitchenAid), or not taking into account the larger picture (Entenmann's). 

Cuoco, if anything, would be guilty of the third – not taking into account the larger picture of her employer being in a legal battle with the product for which she voiced her (paid) support.

In all fairness to Cuoco, keeping abreast of all the legal comings and goings of her employer is really outside her scope of interest.  And it is clear the ad tweet itself was well-crafted and a good use of the medium to get the message across.  Kudos to DISH for leveraging Twitter and the celebrity of Kaley Cuoco effectively.

This kind of situation is something that is going to come up with greater frequency as more and more employees and companies enter the social media space to interact and conduct business.


Coach’s tip: A :60 Twitter TO

Before you click to post your musings or your crafted marketing message, take a :60 time out.  Read over what you have written.  Is it concise, accurate message?  Have someone else read it, preferably someone not in your department/team.  Does it mean what you intend it to mean?  Do hashtags relate to the subject, or have they been used by another entity, with an entirely different meaning?  Could your tweet be interpreted another way?