What does it take to stand out on social media?
Great content? Celebrity influencers? Adorable animals?
Today, people are becoming more and more wary of inauthentic brands and content on social media. The strategies that once worked a few short years ago are quickly becoming outdated.
Looking at recent social media trends, it’s clear that brand managers who are clearly winning in terms of engagement and publicity are the ones that show off their personality. Edgy brand managers do it with a little sass.
Here are three examples of organizations that know how to take it to the edge—capturing the hearts and minds of audiences in the process.
One of the most successful examples of an edgy brand on social media over the last two years is none other than Merriam-Webster.
The official Twitter account of the Merriam-Webster dictionary has become a viral PR sensation. Merriam-Webster mainly utilizes Twitter to share interesting insights behind words that we all use every day:
'Ingenious': 🔬 marked by originality, resourcefulness, and cleverness
'Ingenuous': 😮 showing innocent or childlike simplicity and candidness https://t.co/Dpp2rS2BbU
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) October 18, 2018
However, where Merriam-Webster really shines is when they use the power of words to comment on current cultural events with perfectly timed and relevant tweets:
*whispers into the void* In contemporary use, fact is understood to refer to something with actual existence. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 24, 2017
Merriam-Webster’s social media team understands the art of subtly “commenting without really commenting” on current events by tying their content into the context of word definitions. This led to thousands of mentions, tons of engagement and an incredible amount of social media reach in 2018.
If you’re looking for an edgy brand that throws down on social media by being funny and just flat out strange in every way, look no further than Denny’s.
They’ll make you think twice about what the limits of a successful social media strategy look like today.
Denny’s first gained popularity with a Twitter meme that tricked audiences into repeatedly zooming into an image:
zoom in on the syrup pic.twitter.com/omRBupjrXq
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) March 1, 2017
Diving deeper into their social media presence, the Denny’s personality shines through in all sorts of ways. For example, the description on their Twitter profile reads:
“Yes, we’re fine. No, we’re not the Krusty Krab. Welcome to America’s Diner.”
The social media team behind Denny’s is quirky, sassy, and not afraid to be a little edgy:
What if we individually wrapped fries? That’d be annoying so we won’t. You’re welcome.
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) October 14, 2018
They also understand their target customer on a deep level:
There’s only 3 things guaranteed in life: death, taxes, and a group of theater kids eating at Denny’s after their last production of Hamlet.
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) September 30, 2018
Most importantly, Denny’s isn’t afraid to comment on important conversations on social media. For example, the time they got in on the running joke of 2017, when everyone was talking about different ways to copy Snapchat Stories:
waffles in 2017 will now have stories pic.twitter.com/7ouQS75PSq
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) April 6, 2017
Again, a little personality goes a long way, particularly for America’s favorite diner.
3. Hamburger Helper
Hamburger Helper doesn’t hold back when it comes to being both sassy and smart on social media.
Everything from their profile cover photo to their brand description is on point in terms of showing off their “meaty” personality:
In the age of savvy brands cracking jokes on social media at the expense of random strangers, quite possibly the last brand you’d ever want to be schooled by is a food brand that can’t even be labeled as real “food.”
However, that’s exactly what Hamburger Helper does on a regular basis. For example, one guy named Chris thought he would Tweet about the ease of making Hamburger Helper:
PSA:Knowing how to mix Hamburger Helper doesn't make you wife material. pic.twitter.com/78FSxd9XL7
— chris (@CBEV_3) October 2, 2017
Little did he know that Hamburger Helper was lurking around the corner:
And this makes you husband material? https://t.co/S7oBO1KknZ
— Helper (@helper) October 4, 2017
Just like that @helper received more than 75,000 Retweets, 279,000+ Likes, and more than 77,000 comments and was launched into social media history.
Not to mention all of the people that took the opportunity to jump on the train:
drag him you sexy ass glove
— Eldritch Uncle Pennybags (@DirectingTitan) October 5, 2017
The takeaway: You don’t necessarily have to burn your customers on social media (in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it), but a well-timed tease just might be what your social media account needs.
Key takeaway for edgy brands
If your initial takeaway is to go and start roasting people on social media, please don’t do that. Only some brands can successfully pull it off.
Instead, identify what strengths your brand possesses in terms of personality. Then, let your true voice start to shine through on social media. Talk with and respond to people like a real human would, not like a brand robot.
Whether it’s through humor, intellect, silliness or even sass, every brand has something to offer.