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Hacking your own social media accounts: new trend

In light of recent social media hacks of various enterprise accounts, let us look at the magnificent possibilities for brands willing to hack their own social networking profiles.

social media hack

social media hack

Burger King, Jeep get Twitter hacked

Everyone is talking about the Burger King and Jeep Twitter hacks that happened this week. Personally, I found the whole thing to be quite boring. When these hacks happen to brands, the hackers seem to have an IQ lower than the President Camacho in Idiocracy.

Upon taking over the accounts, tweets amount to nothing more than “YO CAN U BELIEVE DIS @#$%!?? WE H@Qed THE @#%# outta Burger King, yo!” I implore hackers everywhere to do a little research on subtlety before their next takeover attempt. Watch the Yes Men on Netflix. Better yet, just send them the password and let the professionals do their thing. There are lots of hilarious things one can do with a hacked account that might even have the brand not realize they were hacked in the first place. “Did you approve this ‘90% off’ coupon? Who said we were keeping the stores open till 4am this week?”

What’s the point of hacking if you don’t have fun?

The equivalent of a band of rowdy teens

When a brand is hacked and it’s this obvious, the damage is really minimal. It’s no more damaging than if a bunch of rowdy teenagers kidnapped Burger King employees, stole their uniforms and instigated a massive food fight inside the restaurant. People would just feel bad for the victims. It’s merely juvenile vandalism when there’s an opportunity for activism.

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What could one have done with a hacked Burger King account? Bring attention to animal cruelty by announcing their all-new vegetarian menu? Raise awareness of wages and labor practices? There are lots of ideas that would have a lot of people thinking about the brand differently.

Profane but hilarious

One hoax that was done in a way that’s humorous instead of pointless was the fake website put up on a domain that easily could be mistaken for Guy Fieri’s infamously bad new restaurant. At a glance it appears to be a normal, albeit over priced menu, but reading the descriptions, such as “Guy’s Big Balls – Snuggle up to two 4-pound Rice-A-Roni crusted mozzarella balls endangered with shaved lamb and pork and blasted with Guy’s signature Cadillac Cream sauce until dripping off the plate…” are pretty hilarious.

If only the Burger King and Jeep hackers had half a brain, they might still be controlling the accounts and entertaining us along the way with slightly implausible new menu items.

Hacking or jacking up the stats? 

In the end, Burger King gained a 30 percent bump in followers the day of the attack. Which led me to wonder, at what point will brands start to vandalize their own accounts just to get attention?

It didn’t take long for MTV and BET to come up with a light-hearted version of this idea yesterday where they “hacked” each other’s accounts and traded barbs back and forth. Brands vandalizing their own work for attention is nothing new; in 2009 MoMA subway posters were vandalized by Poster Boy along with Doug Jaeger, the owner of the branding agency they paid to create the campaign in the first place.

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It’s just a matter of time before more daring brands start to see that the way to cut through social media clutter is to let their hands off the steering wheel because it’s so much more fun to watch the accidents.

Will the social hacker be the next social media guru? Perhaps there will be a new analytics platform that tracks pre- and post-hack activity. “Well Donna, our core audience seems to have shifted in the last day from 45 year old soccer moms to 14 year old teen boys, perhaps we should change the style of purses we’re manufacturing.”

Tips for your brand hack

Since we’re pioneering this newfangled marketing idea right here in this column, let’s talk social media self-hacking best practices:

  • Let your brand be authentic. Say what you’d really say, don’t use corporate-speak! Oh wait, that’s what they said at Social Media Week for real today… wrong notebook!
  • Don’t be too over the top at first. Be in constant beta. Oh dammit… those are my notes from last year’s Social Media Week. Hold on!
  • Come up with some outlandish but slightly plausible policy change that will get people talking, yet is subtle enough that your own team could think it’s real.
  • Pretend you’re a social media intern on your last day at work. Go nuts!
  • Don’t be vulgar. It’s the easiest way to get caught. Praising 1930s German dictators is very last year and overdone by too many celebrities.
  • Wait two weeks. After reading this article, several new firms boasting a full thirteen days of experience will emerge to pitch your social media account hacking business. They will be at constant odds with the normal social media team who will demand their password back so they can get back to posting real coupons and retweeting “influencers.” This back and forth is a good thing, creating an internal competition to see who can gain the most followers? The “legit” team or the “hacker” team?

Meanwhile, I’ll be scamming my way into a social media conference next year to speak on my successes in social hacking and the new technology I’m developing to automate it.

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Written By

Marc Lefton is a creative director and tech entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience. He's a partner in Digikea Digital based in NYC and Gainesville, Florida.


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