Strategy: Off the Tweeted Path — Brands Get Weird on Twitter


TL;DR: Brands increasing their exposure on Twitter have the power to impact the bottom line, but the specific language used matters more than companies might think. The current “weird Twitter” trend sets new expectations and brands see the return in abstract, humorous copywriting in social interactions.

How many people can you get to laugh out loud in 280 characters or less? This is the question many consumer-packaged good (CPG) brands have begun to ask themselves as weird Twitter hooks audiences by the millions.

In short, weird Twitter utilized as a marketing tool can be identified any time a brand appears to be breaking the social media norm of what an audience would expect to see of a corporate social media account.

These tweets include quirk, offbeat jokes and unexpected remarks, and often have little to do with the companies’ actual products or promotional goals. From an outsider’s perspective, these tweets can appear strange or confusing, but the shock value captivates followers.

Weird Twitter’s voice can be traced back to the beginnings of internet chat forums and blogs, most famously, This online chat forum, similar to what we know Reddit to be today, was a breeding ground for obscure, offbeat humor in relationship to everyday occurrences. Veterans of this site transitioned from this platform to Twitter between 2005-2008, claiming Twitter to be the ideal platform for the brief, quirky one-liners that the humor seemed to rely on.

It’s important to note that the idea of weird Twitter cannot be boiled down to a simplistic humor-based strategy — the voice and style of this brand of social copywriting is intentional, and derives from the deeper workings of the internet. What makes a tweet “weird” verses simply “funny” is the bewilderment, absurdity, and over-all hilariously perplexing message the tweet is sending.

IHOP entices its followers by implementing their product in ways that make no conventional sense. What brands are discovering is that this is the type of content that gets its content retweeted and shared rather than forgotten — it starts a dialogue that has a “wtf?” foundation, but also has the potential to end in recognition, and maybe in some cases, action.

Brands such as Skittles, Hot Pockets, Totino’s Pizza Rolls and more embrace humorous, quick-witted personas on Twitter that garner plenty of noted press, and in turn, have the potential to increase their following by the thousands. There are also curated lists developed on Twitter by bloggers and marketing agencies that map out which brands are executing this social media approach the most effectively.

Brands that adopt a weird Twitter voice tend to have larger followings than the average CPG brand. Skittles recently adopted to the trend, increasing its following to more than 395,000. Comparatively, Sour Patch Kids has a following of 66,100 where the brand executes a more traditional form of marketing that revolves around photos and short videos.

Whether or not weird Twitter alone impacts the bottom line is still up for debate — but the influence it has on its social media consumers can be surprisingly intense. Twitter becomes easily saturated with whatever trend or topic that picks up momentum, which has had the potential to result in powerful rumors that for some, become temporary truths.

In 2014, Scott Baio was falsely believed to have died by millions of Twitter users who saw this topic trending, simply because one popular weird twitter account gained unexpected attention announced Baio’s death as a joke. In another instance, Walmart launched a campaign in 2012 on Facebook, promising to send to send singer/rapper Pitbull to whichever Walmart store in America received the most “likes” on its Page. David Thorpe, a well known weird-tweeter, started his own campaign using the hashtag #ExilePitbull. Thorpe’s mission, using weird Twitter as a platform, was to get as many people as possible to rig the contest and send Pitbull to a Walmart in Kodiak, Alaska — a town of less than 6,200. Not only was Thorpe’s plan successful, but those who participated in this campaign describe the event as a reminder to how powerful humorous and abstract Twitter voices can be.

While the “weird Twitter” trend continues to be a selective taste, we don’t envision this style going anywhere any time soon.

While those engaging in this new trend do appear to have a stronger following and a more engaged fan base, whether or not these fans are actually purchasing the products based on their relationship with the online content is inconclusive. What we do know, on a basic level at the very least, is that exposure to potential consumers is a valuable asset to any CPG market. Through the use of off-beat, unconventional, and silly humorous approach, brands might be able to curate an audience larger than they once thought possible.

While the weird Twitter trend continues to be a selective taste, we don’t envision this style going anywhere any time soon. Capturing an audience's attention remains both a goal and a vice for most brands and with this comes a need for innovative marketing communication that sticks with the customers long after the initial retweet. It’s not the only platform for meaningful interactions, but Twitter’s advantage remains that the copy is quick and the execution is comparatively easy — the only necessary tools needed are two thumbs and a passion for the lol’s.

For alternative ways to captivate your followers, learn how to engage followers and grow your audience.

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