Although trolling has a negative connotation, many brands are using the social media critics who engage in that sort of snarky fault-finding as inspiration for attention-getting posts. They’re willing to be acerbic rather than becoming passive adherents to the old motto that the customer is always right.
Here are three recent examples of successful trolling on social media.
1. Burger King trolls an actual king
While entering a new market, Burger King playfully trolled the Belgian monarchy with its “Who Is The King?” campaign. Consumers directed to a site were asked to choose who should rule, a cartoon likeness of King Philippe or the Burger King. Fans who clicked on the actual royal ruler were asked, “Are you sure? He won’t be the one to cook your fries.” Not everyone appreciated the irreverent sense of humor: A palace spokesperson made it clear the royal government was not pleased.
2. Don’t let the haters win
Jaden Smith, actor and progeny of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, went on a Twitter tirade after the vegan star was served pancakes with cheese in them at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. The breakfast culprit was a choice listed as lemon ricotta pancakes. Maybe Smith wasn’t aware that ricotta is a cheese. Instead of apologizing and playing into Smith’s digital tantrum, the hotel poked fun at the dish’s newfound celebrity status instead.
3. Own the trolling
Wendy’s has long been cultivating a sassy online persona on social media, creating an engaging fan base of customers actively trying to get the brand to roast them on Twitter and reposting the snarky content on a regular basis. Wendy’s has eagerly played along, whether it’s throwing shade at the competition or putting a consumer who dissed the fast-food chain in their place.
Since the start of June alone, the brand has dissed competitors (when asked what to get at Subway from a Twitter follower, Wendy’s responded “A ride to the next station”), responded to a slightly racy tweet with an equally sarcastic sense of humor, and chopped on a Twitter user who wasn’t a fan of one of the chain’s tweets. All of these social interactions garnered attention online, from retweets to likes to simply starting a conversation with fans who enjoy Wendy’s dry and snappy sense of humor while trolling customers and other brands.