Today’s online communities are no strangers to fast paced online trends. Whether people are posting a #tbt on their Instagram account or whether they are engaging in last week’s trending #fivewordstoruinadate on Twitter, the speedy birth rate and volatile lifespan of trends is undeniable.
With McDonald’s recent launch of Twitter, the ability for the company to latch onto such trends and join these conversations has never been so vital. However, accompanying these brilliant social opportunities are certain risks that can be detrimental to the success of a business’ online communities.
Imagine you’re sitting in your car, stuck in traffic, on your way home from a long day of work. You’re flicking through the radio channels trying to find a song that you like amongst the light-hearted afternoon chat shows. You flick one more time and land on Taylor Swift’s “Shake-It Off”, a catchy tune that immediately brightens your mood. You wish: “I wish this song was on every channel!”. When you finally get home, you pick up your phone and Tweet #Tay4Hottest100.
This very real and hefty campaign picked up a large following (a divide of the Swifties and the haters) and trended on Twitter and on other social platforms nationally. KFC, known for its efficacious real-time online presence decided to join this conversation on Facebook, with somewhat negative results.
Anglea Catterns, a Tripple-J announcer stated “You probably know that there was a push to get a Taylor Swift song in (the Hottest 100), which has now been disqualified because a fast food chain became involved in the whole process.”
This unfortunate result welcomed some hate to the fast food brand. Now this is not to say that all online trending issues are dangerous, this was unlucky for KFC. They have taken risks and latched onto a number of successes, as have other companies (http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/brands-are-having-way-too-much-fun-fivewordstoruinadate-hashtag-game-162336).
While this is harmful for KFC, in the wise words of Oscar Wilde “There is no such thing as bad publicity”. This “mistake” has amplified KFC and this trend to be a topic of discussion within the media with many groups weighing in.
One example is none other than Sydney’s very own Bondi Hipsters:
“So hold on, let me get this straight. Middle Australia is perfectly comfortable standing around while our government breaks promises, denies the facts of climate change, cuts investments in science, charges us more for education and healthcare, supports deforestation, mines lands of ancient spiritual significance, dredges our Great Barrier Reef, spends all our money on jet planes and then blames the previous government for getting us in debt – but when Taylor Swift might get a song into the Triple J Hottest 100 they’re all united up in arms? Can you believe it?”
The real issue is finding a balance between brands having fun with their consumers and the risks involved. But how do we find that balance? It’s safe to say without some kind of risk, you don’t reap the rewards.