When corporations try too hard on social media

OMG Mega Lolz, FML, I can haz KitKat? I’ve just been writing about this KitKat post in my social media book. It’s a great example of a corporate brand trying too hard when engaging on social media. But as Kate Loose points out in this wonderful New Inquiry article, it’s much creepier when they get it right. The KitKat post is just slightly awkward but I find the broader trend completely unnerving:

But slowly, and by 2014, very quickly, the insouciant, lower-case voice became the mainstream, corporate voice. Now, a Denny’s tweet can sound more casual and on meme than any individual’s Twitter account. And it isn’t just Denny’s: Brands from Chipotle to Hamburger Helper have gained massive followings this way. If in the past five years we all had to grow up somewhat — Carles doesn’t even tweet anymore — how is it that corporations grew down, becoming the new meme-aware “teens” of social media?

It is a fact of marketing that brands can’t ask for business too directly. People tend to recoil from requests that feel too direct, and this is why social-media accounts explicitly selling anything seem like spam, triggering disinterest. Brands have to make us want them by giving us something: in branding terms, providing #value. This is how humor, or the gift of laughs, becomes the universal gift that any Twitter account can provide to its followers, as  #weirdtwitter proved in its universe of thousands of anonymous accounts tweeting nonsensical humor at each other.


Categories: Digital Sociology, Social Media for Academics

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