Social Media Hijacking

Twitter strikes again with social media hijacking. It started when Munchies, a food site sponsored by Vice Magazine, raised some hell with their barbecue allegations this weekend. If anything is to be learned from this situation, it’s that people have very serious feelings about their barbecue. That, and the fact communicators need to do better with understanding the sentiments of their publics.

The Disagreement

The dumpster fire began when @munchies tweeted a picture of a plate of brisket, 2 dinner rolls and some pickels. This picture was paired with the caption “Why is BSocial Media Hijackingrooklyn barbecue taking over the world?” This rhetorical question suggests Brooklyn barbecue sits atop the pinnacle of what barbecue should be. Many had other thoughts on the matter. Jack Morse from Mashable describes, “The undeniably sad pile of meat calls to mind many things — loneliness, despair, desperation, a misguided attempt at connection — but none of them are a regional style of BBQ reigning supreme over this troubled earth.”

Harsh words, Jack.

What Munchies might have meant as a positive promotion quickly turned into a public spectacle. Many Twitter users posted pictures of creatively questionable meals with the same caption. It wasn’t long before users adding their 2 cents elevated the situation to be a trending topic on Twitter.

The Debacle

This form of social media hijacking is not a new phenomenon. You might remember how in 2012, McDonald’s was hopeful with their #McDStories campaign. The idea was for people to post their positive experiences at McDonald’s and cast inspirational light on the restaurant’s Happy Meals. However, because the internet is a cruel cruel place, Twitter users began using the hashtag to share their disappointments about the restaurant chain.

The Deduction

Social media hijacking can be good in the sense that it reveals consumer sentiment. However, as communicators, it’s valuable to already have this insight before placing the reputation of your organization into the hands of the piranha tank that is social media. Perhaps in the future Munchies will monitor the climate of their publics a little more before making  inferences about something as sacred as barbecue.

To read more about the Twitter backlash, check out Jack Morse’s article here:

Check out Forbes’ take on the McDonald’s hijacking here: