Think your social media presence needs to stay nice? Think again.

It’s one of those unwritten rules of social media marketing that you should probably avoid using your account to actively troll your customers. Unless you’re in the business of trolling people, obviously. And even then, those customers had probably better do something extra obnoxious to earn it.

But for those of us not in the professional trolling business, the whole point of your social media presence is to generate good buzz, give customers a chance to directly interact with the brand and build awareness. Right?

We already know it’s hard to keep customer attention, so do something to stand out. For every response of “We’re sorry to hear about your experience with (your brand here). Please PM your details and allow us to rectify this problem for you” you’ve put out there, there are probably a dozen times where you wanted to respond with something… a little saltier.

Which is why we can now happily live vicariously through Wendy’s Twitter account, which is making huge waves by getting pretty real with some of its less friendly customers.

Wendy’s and Thuggy-D since patched up their relationship with a mutual “#respect” tweet, and we imagine Thuggy-D scored a few free burgers from the experience. But that exchange brought the spotlight to Wendy’s Twitter account, with outlets from BuzzFeed to Business Insider sharing some of the best burns.

Mashable, in fact, tracked down the person behind Wendy’s sassy new makeover, Amy Brown, in a January 2017 interview, noting how, “On her website, she sells herself with an approach that can be defined as a cross between a putdown and a humble brag, calling out her haters by acknowledging her own ‘terrible’ social media skills and ‘very very stupid’ decisions.”

And yet somehow, it works. As Brown told Mashable, “I think both as a brand and a human being trying to use Twitter, authenticity goes a long way. And, of course being funny doesn’t hurt.”

That’s not to say there isn’t some downside to pushing the envelope. In a since-deleted tweet, someone at the Wendy’s team responded for a request for memes with a Pepe the Frog macro, a cartoon image who at some point made the leap from viral cartoon character to erstwhile mascot for alt-right groups.

Still, the backlash was minimal and the sudden social media fame has continued to build buzz for the Wendy’s brand.

So what can we learn from all this? In short, authenticity pays off in social media. The robotic public relations response may get the job done in addressing customer complaints, but it does nothing to grow your brand.

By putting out something slightly controversial and unapologetically funny, a strategy building in popularity over the last year, Wendy’s has been able to put a fresh face on an otherwise fairly antiseptic brand. Whether or not that converts to actual sales has not been proven, but it’s hard to argue the results: Wendy’s Twitter account now boasts nearly 1.5 million followers, with some tweets seeing upwards of 30,000 likes.

But of course, the key ingredient is matching that voice to fit your brand. Wendy’s targets a younger demographic and presents itself as the charming underdog in the fast food wars. Speaking with Mashable, VP of advertising Brandon Rhoten said, “The intent of the social media team is to represent the brand’s voice as best as they can. When folks say, ‘roast me,’ we’re going to have fun with that.”

The trick is to look at your demographic, find out what will be fresh and relevant in their newsfeed beyond your advertising message, and adopt a voice that speaks to that. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but if you’re looking for a way to reinvent your brand online, Wendy’s just proved it’s OK to get just a little bit sassy.

Are you ready to put the social back in social media? Give us a call at (904) 638-7555, or complete the form below.

Like what you read? Looking for additional tips and tricks to help your small or medium-sized business succeed? Check out more of our blog posts here.

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