You may have heard of the Chipotle Twitter Hack. The “hack” was a part of their 20th anniversary marketing campaign, which includes a 20-day long treasure hunt called “Adventurito,” which features 20 days of puzzles.
“We thought that people would pay attention, that it would cut through people’s attention and make them talk, and it did that,”
– Chris Arnold, a Chipotle representative. (During an interview with Mashable).
Yes, it got people talking – I won’t debate that. Roughly, 4,000 new followers on hack day vs. 250 new followers on an average day and 12,000 retweets on hack day vs. the on average 75 retweets per day. And of course, people like me who are writing blogs about it.
But does that make it worth it?
Maybe it does, but I won’t be recommending this tactic anytime soon. It seems to have worked out okay for them, but when lying becomes part of your social media strategy, you put a lot at risk. What was at risk? Around 226,000 loyal followers. These are the people who followed Chipotle before the hack, enjoyed Chipotle’s food & overall brand and many of which are brand ambassadors for Chipotle – all because they simply love the brand! They didn’t need to be tricked into reading future Tweets, they connected with Chipotle because they’ve been in the restaurant and enjoyed their experience enough to form a relationship with the brand. That’s what social media is about after all – relationships. Why risk upsetting 226,000 followers to grow less than 2%. How many of those new followers will continue to follow Chipotle? How many will engage and become active followers? Most importantly, how many of those 4,000 will ever walk into a Chipotle location?
Is faking a hack really that big of a deal? …well no, not really. The truth is often stretched in marketing campaigns. Actors are used, there may be fine print and no, Red Bull will not actually give you wings. But the beauty of social media is that consumers have a chance to connect with brands on a deeper level. It’s not about feeling connected to a brand because you could associate with a brand’s TV commercial. It’s about actually connecting with a brand, talking with them 1 on 1, and forming a relationship with them. Why base that relationship around a lie / fib / trick / prank / etc.