The Burger King Fry-asco: A Chance to Reclaim Its Social Media Crown

The defaced @BurgerKing Twitter profile.It’s been a bad few weeks for Burger King. First, horse meat was found in beef patties at European locations. And today, hackers took over the company’s Twitter account, tweeting lewd and inappropriate content and making it appear McDonald’s bought Burger King. Now, the @BurgerKing account is receiving more retweets than the Triple Whopper has calories.

Many mainstream news outlets jumped on the story, including ABCNews.com and CNN.com.  If I was a betting man, I’d say this story lands in the nighttime news broadcasts and tomorrow’s papers.  Needless to say, it’s not a happy President’s Day for the Burger King communications team.

Don’t worry: this whopper of a problem could turn into a positive thing for the Burger King brand. Here’s why this could be a good thing:

  • Engagement:  As one commenter in this Mashable article said, Burger King has the potential to “make it their Oreo power outage moment.” And, he’s right. Getting a large and engaged audience in social media is one of the toughest challenges for a brand. All eyes are on Burger King. If the brand can figure out a creative way to spin this, people on and off Twitter will listen.
  • A boost in followers: After the hack, @BurgerKing followers jumped by 5,000 in less than 30 minutes – they’ve accumulated a staggering 30,000 more followers overall. You can’t even get that with a paid campaign. Sure, some of those followers engaged with the brand for the wrong reasons, but it doesn’t mean Burger King can’t try to convert these news followers into fans. (I’m thinking free fries, what about you?)
  • Free press: The brand is number three in the marketplace, under McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Google News is currently showing more than 52,700 news articles about the hack. The press is hungry for a response and this is an opportunity for the flame-grilled burger brand to tell its side of the story – and get some free publicity out of it.

The trick with all the positives above is that Burger King needs to be quick, creative and nimble. Will Burger King rise to the challenge? I hope so.

For the record: I’ve always thought Burger King had the best fries. 

Cameron McPherson

Cameron builds strategic communication campaigns that increase awareness and build public support. His familiarity with Virginia’s local markets helps clients navigate and understand complex and emerging issues. He frequently assists new companies, restaurants and other organizations launch in the Richmond market through public relations tactics.

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