'Hamburglar' hacks Burger King Twitter: Protecting online reputations

The first part in a series of Social Media Week content, made even more relevant today by the hacking of Burger King's Twitter. Photo: Hacked Facebook page

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2013 — Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked for one hour today and made to look like McDonald’s. That’s enough time for people to make jokes, write blogs, post news stories and bring in the Hamburglar for questioning.

Burger King’s account is currently suspended. 

As more and more people use social media to get their news and interact with brands, a much greater focus must be put on this crucial interaction. Brands have the tremendous opportunity to engage directly with their audience, create brand advocates instantly and be their own publishers. The best at this, at a minimum, follow the four pillars of online reputation. Pillars found in a case study by Alerti - a social media monitoring and management service. 

Hire a community manager

Don’t leave a brand in the hands of interns. This should be a communications professional with an ability to think critically, be engaging and know how to develop relationships. A community manager is sometimes a writer, an entertainer, a publicist, a crisis manager. It’s a unique skill set and it should come naturally. 

Set up a social media monitoring strategy

Use tools that help monitor conversation about the brand, check keywords. People who have shown an interest in a brand love to hear from them. It can even make their day. There is valuable sentiment data sitting on the Internet every day. Have this in place before deciding on how to engage. It will make things easier going forward. 

Engage in conversation online

A brand can be an active listener, a broadcaster, an active engager - all work. Look at your target market and see how they engage online - then engage that way. The best brands seem to be very timely with their responses and are given a lot of flexibility by upper management.

Social media doesn’t require a brand to be the most active, the funniest, provide the most information. All can help but what is really required is the ability to be timely and capitalize on situations or opportunities when needed. 

Create a content and SEO strategy

“Produce valuable content that will be well indexed in Google search results” says Alerti. Value means a different thing to every audience. Value can be created by establishing thought leadership in a given field. Value can be created by saving customers time. Value can be created by entertaining or acknowledging people. 

The point is that brands should be proactive about how current and future customers view them online. Don’t wait for customers to form an opinion. Give them a reason to engage positively. 

Jeff Barrett is a recognized leader in public relations, experiential marketing and social media. CEO of Status Creative, 2012 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.  


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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 



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