Marketing Briefing: ‘Bad behavior is positively rewarded’: Why brands continue to push the line on social posts
Nearly a decade ago, Oreo made headlines for its now infamous “Dunk in the Dark” tweet. The tweet, which was sent out during the 2013 Super Bowl, became the perfect example of responsive marketing on social media — something marketers were still figuring out back then — that the industry would point to for years.
It’s harder for brands to stand out on social media now. In the years since “Dunk in the Dark,” it’s become much more common for brands to comment on whatever’s happening at the moment. Brands sound alike on social media now, too. Most social media managers tend to use a colloquial voice to make brand accounts sound, well, less like brands and more like people.
Brand accounts have to go beyond just sounding like people and find ways to stand out — i.e. why Duolingo leans into “unhinged” content on TikTok — so that people will pay attention. It’s easy to see then, why marketers and brand managers are pushing the envelope on social posts as people likely wouldn’t pay attention otherwise.
But recent posts, like Pabst Blue Ribbon’s sexually explicit tweet that got its social media manager fired as well as brands like Ruggables, Hellman’s mayonnaise and Peacock, among others, jumping into TikTok’s West Elm Caleb trend on TikTok (a man who allegedly works for West Elm who was dating, ghosting and sending explicit photos to several women in New York City went viral for those behaviors with women making posts to warn each other about him) have some in the industry questioning were the line is when it comes to standing out or going too far on social media.
“West Elm Caleb content is a perfect example of brands doing something just because other users on the app are doing it,” said Lauren Murphy, social strategist for Deutsch LA. “If your brand has a clear strategy and social voice, then you don’t need to make content for the sake of shock value or to be trendy.”
Murphy continued: “Any piece of content your brand puts out there should feel like it’s coming from your brand. If you removed the logo — would it still relate to your audience and does it still make sense that you’re posting it compared to any other brand? Also, brands, do you want to be a brand making fun of a 25-year-old guy who has been ghosting women on dating apps? It feels wrong just to hop on trends without considering the power and responsibility brands have online.”
While some in the industry believe that “standards of some sort must apply,” as Cristina Lawrence, evp and head of social at Razorfish put it, others say that brands will likely continue to push the envelope because that’s what gets noticed online.
“For brands trying to make a cultural/social splash, the trend is for social brand voice to be out of character but not far off from the internet language of their target,” said Nick Meyer, …read more