Why Chipotle’s fake hack didn’t work. And did work.

Last Sunday, as we all know by now, Chipotle faked their own weird, confusing, Twitter “hack.”  They sent out a string of tweets that were boring as all hell, made no sense, and looked more like someone on their team had no idea how to use Twitter as opposed to a hack.

I caught wind of it from other people that were re-tweeting the weirdness.  I do not follow Chipotle’s Twitter handle myself. chipotle

I am not attaching the actual tweets as I don’t need to be the 4,893rd blogger to “break the news.”  I am simply giving my thoughts on the whole situation after the fact as I love watching brands on social media.

Why it worked:

Apparently their goal was to gain more Twitter followers.  Well, they did that.  Last I heard it was roughly 4,000 of them.  For free.  

We are still talking about Chipotle’s Twitter situation.  I am guilty as charged.  I couldn’t resist.  It’s some pretty interesting tom foolery.  Whether or not all of these people went out and immediately bought a burrito is kind of here nor there at this point.  People are talking about Chipotle that weren’t just a few days ago.

Brand “press.”  Some of it earned media.  They were talked about by Mashable, among other social media blogs much, much bigger than this one.  If you like or hate Mashable is besides the point – it gets a ton of readers, and they were all talking about Chipotle.  It wasn’t all positive though….

It wasn’t controversial.  They didn’t do or say anything to offend anyone, or say something false, etc, etc.  It was just what it was.  Safe.

I wanted to eat a burrito after I gave Chipotle roughly 5 minutes of my attention.  Sucked me right in.

Why it didn’t work:

See my first point above.  Yeah, that’s also not that impressive.  They have 230,000+ followers on Twitter, so let’s just say they had 226,000 before the stunt.  So, they gained almost 2% of their follower count.  Yes, it was free, but… that’s really not that cool.

Building off that last point, how many of those new followers have since unfollowed?  Especially after learning it was fake.  Does that make you want to always see all of their tweets now as a brand loyalist?  Did the super weird, boring hack tweets make you want to follow?  Why?  Because you wanted to follow along with the train wreck.   Those are not meaningful followers and members of their community.   If they haven’t unfollowed already, they will gradually.  I’ve seen this first hand after twitter promotions and paid efforts on the platform.  They’ll need to grow with these new followers with solid content that adds something for these people, otherwise it’s adios (assuming they have a content plan to connect with and keep these new followers.  Hopefully.)  On the flip side of that argument I’m sure there are also people that have now followed as new simply because they found out about the weird hack being fake.  So, there’s that.

It was super boring.  Seriously, those tweets were so weird that I pretty much thought that it was just someone on their team that completely didn’t know what they were doing.  It wasn’t funny in nature, only because it was so confusing.

Faking something for attention leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.  I was following along with my eyes wide open like WTF, but kind of interested to see how long this would go on.  Then, when I found out it was fake I felt duped and taken advantage of.  I wanted my 15 minutes back, and a burrito.


I applaud them for trying something risky, knowing it could get positive or really negative criticism after the fact, and I also recognize that this was thought out ahead of time.  The social media content and campaign game is all about trial and error, risk, failure, and success.  They went for something and here I am blogging about it.

For that reason I tip my hat to them.  But for every other reason I mention above about why it didn’t work, I pretty much just want to roll my eyes and pretend this didn’t happen.

And I still want that free burrito.



4 thoughts on “Why Chipotle’s fake hack didn’t work. And did work.

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