The King is Hacked, Long Live the King

So, the Burger King Twitter account was somehow hacked into on Monday (18 February). Did you see it? Were you aware? Do you even care?

There was certainly a great deal of brouhaha in the immediate aftermath, almost exclusively from people who work in the marketing, PR and social media sectors.

In short, someone took over the official Burger King Twitter account, changed the BK logo to a McDonalds’ logo and started tweeting nonsense. Some of it said that Burger King had been sold to McDonalds, most of it wasn’t funny and was filled with grammatical errors.

You can read more about it here.

The decision was eventually taken by Burger King – once they had regained control of it – to suspend the account. Presumably to clear out all the nefarious tweets, check they weren’t following any undesirables, and to send someone from their digital marketing team to sit on the naughty step and think about what had happened. At the time of publishing this piece, the Burger King account had reappeared.

But amid the sound and fury that gripped my Twitter stream on Monday afternoon, I couldn’t help but wonder does any of this actually matter?

“Will sales of Burger King food fall because of the hack?” asked one person I follow on Twitter.

I think it was a genuine question. The answer, quite obviously, is no. The quality of the food sold by Burger King is not affected in any way, directly or indirectly, by what happens on Twitter.

I retorted by saying in the event that sales of Burger King food don’t fall thanks to this very public social media problem, should we all conclude that social media is utterly pointless?

Well, of course the answer to that one is also no.

What this alludes to though is the question of how one assesses the value of – and ROI from – social media. And the chances are that sales of your core products is not the right metric.

Research commissioned by Nexus Communications last year into the grocery shopping habits of UK households’ primary shoppers, found that a staggeringly low two per cent cited social media as having influence over the choices they make.

Social media is not the place to promote your products and push your messages onto people. It’s where people will expect to find you listening, talking, answering their questions, and generally being a bit more human than you are elsewhere – like on your website.

People will come to your Facebook page to participate in competitions and take advantage of offers and vouchers – no one with the Facebook account needs to pay full price with the likes of Domino’s Pizza, for example.

But if you’re not measuring the pull-through from offers and competitions, if you’re not tracking the offline redemption of online vouchers, how can you know what’s working and what isn’t?

In short, if you’re measuring the wrong thing – no matter what it is – you’re measuring the wrong thing.

I’m not privy to the ins and outs of what Burger King’s social media KPIs might be, but I’d be surprised if burger sales is one of the main ones.

Right, I’m off in search of a Whopper. Who’s with me?

(This piece was first published on the Nexus Communications website. You used to be able to find it here. You can’t any more as someone has moved it.)