These three brands are proving that a Twitter marketing strategy centered on meme-able content, niche humor, and unusual antics can sometimes pay dividends.

In an endless ocean of content — where every minute, 448,800 tweets are sent — how can brands possible hope to make a splash on Twitter? How about…with a content marketing strategy tailored to the unique expectations of the site’s audience?

Today, major social media platforms have each developed their own unified brand identity. As a result, users flock to different platforms with different expectations. While users log onto LinkedIn for information and networking opportunities, or Facebook for videos and updates from friends, users notoriously turn to Twitter for memes and niche millennial humor. What I’m trying to say is this: on Twitter, weird is often worthwhile.  

Why Weird Works

When everyone is implementing the same tired social media marketing strategies (that are not customized to each unique platform), taking a risk by breaking from your buttoned-up business tone to create a unique (weird) brand voice on Twitter can sometimes generate surprising reward. That’s because weird is memorable – a tactic that works well on a platform for generating brand awareness.

According to neuroscientists, encountering something weird, new, and novel may increase brain activity — including the search for psychological reward. In the world of marketing, that could mean that when a user is scrolling through her feed and stumbles upon a hilarious meme, a niche joke, or a prod at another brand, she may be more inclined to seek out more information — offering brands a valuable opportunity to build brand awareness, and potentially capture new leads.

Here are four examples of brands doing unconventional Twitter marketing right:

1. Ruthless Roasting: Wendy’s

Hamburger cooking strategy? Grilling. Twitter marketing strategy? Roasting. It seems Wendy’s customer base likes the taste, too. In the last couple years, the fast food titan has become a kind of Twitter sensation, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets on posts and interactions with other brands — and regular ol’ users — that are often hilarious and *certified savage*.

Wendy’s epitomizes the effectiveness of customized brand voices for different platforms. The fast food giant’s TV ads often feature classic fast food marketing moves — slow-mo 360 degree shots of mouth-watering burgers and positing their products as superior to the competition’s — which speaks to the audiences of the networks on which they advertise. Meanwhile, they’ve amassed 2.8 million followers.

2. Gritty on Twitty: The Philadelphia Flyers & Gritty

 

The Philadelphia Flyers, an objectively average pro hockey team team, has just introduced arguably the weirdest mascot in the NHL — an unidentified animal/monster fondly referred to as Gritty. Even more bizarre than Gritty himself is his Twitter page, heavy-laden with video clips of Gritty doing everything from dancing onstage with the city’s equally uncanny baseball mascot, the Phillie Phanatic — to frenetic stunts like the above, a jab at the San Jose Sharks, a rival team who won the 2016 Stanley Cup (whose mascot fired back in his own string of weird tweets).

While the Flyers’ general marketing strategy is tame across other channels, Gritty’s debut has lit up Twitter’s trending charts — and Gritty’s own erratic Twitter behavior has generated headlines from USA Today and NBC Sports. The Gritty experiment proves that sometimes, a terrifying, ambiguous orange monstrosity – and an appropriately bizarre Twitter presence –  is the key to a more effective marketing strategy.

3. Meme-able Munchies: Denny’s

Denny’s, America’s beloved 24/7 diner chain, has successfully adapted their brand’s Twitter voice to appeal to young millennials and Gen-Zers — through weird and wacky references to Twitter-centric humor, as is evidenced in the above. The “bone apple tea” meme phenomena — which finds its origins in a World Star Hip Hop post — quickly took Twitter by storm, with users tagging their own photos of objectively gross and ironically-prepared meals with a caption that riffed off the sad misspelling of the French bon appétit. Not to mention the time they broke the internet with this one:

Essentially, Denny’s knows how to ride the trend wave — which is crucial in a fast-moving world like Twitter. Like both Wendy’s and the Flyers, Denny’s has created an entirely novel brand voice that speaks uniquely to Twitter users. They are able to build greater brand awareness by creating ridiculous, meme-worthy content that is prone to virality through shares and likes (that pancake meme has almost 400,000 likes and 235,000 retweets to date) while still promoting their brand’s products.

Doing Weird Right

Though most brands will still choose to maintain a unified brand identity, pushing similar tones, graphics, and messages across channels, that may no longer be the most effective marketing strategy in today’s world. Social media has been rendered one of the most flexible tools available today, as brands are rewarded for customizing content and brand voice for each platform.

In particular, B2C brands who hope to target a younger customer audience may be able to scale their brand faster and more effectively through goofy and unexpected tweets that delight users by tapping into trending jokes and memes that their audience identify with. So our advice to brands? Get weird — when it’s appropriate.

Author Kendra Clark

A current graduate student in creative writing at the University of Cambridge, Kendra writes for a broad array of L&T's clients in industries ranging from healthcare to manufacturing. She has consulted for tech startups in California and Washington, D.C. on editorial and brand strategy development. With a degree in philosophy and literature from Santa Clara University, she is a lover of poetry, vegan Thai food, documentary films, and arguing about Nietzsche.

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