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The one with the outage

Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, all of whom were Harvard students at the time. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook has taken the world by storm.

As of today, it has grown beyond being just a platform for meet and greets on the internet. Facebook and its sister social platforms Instagram and WhatsApp comfortably top our list of internet usage and have remained there mostly unchallenged for well over a decade. Despite this, their competitors do try to make headway in the industry.

Its main rival since its inception has been Twitter, the platform with the most controversial existence in social media history. Its unique content strategy has made it a breeding ground for all manner of free speech, which often creates more problems than it resolves. Nevertheless, Larry continues to thrive.

Twitter sprung into action yesterday when responding to an unexplained Facebook outage that suspiciously followed after a whistleblower case that the company is currently dithering over. It has been known to offer some witty and promising avenues for brand marketing. Brand Twitters come alive through this medium and speak their mind, increasing relatability twofold. Exactly how? Providing a blended voice that will be followed and supported just by writing 280 characters at a time.

Facebook too jumped on the bandwagon of a somewhat humorous representation of what transpires when we are in the midst of a blackout, despite all the serious implications the outage has on Facebook and by extension its brands and consumers. In a way, Twitter had the look of a dimly lit living room, with candles lining every corner, and brands lounging on the couch. XBOX, Snickers, Reddit, PBS, Starbucks, Steak-Umm, and McDonald's kept it humming.

However, it's not the first time this has happened. In the past, a brand's real-time marketing efforts, especially well-timed social media comebacks, needed to be well-prepared. A brand could only do this if it researched, learned, and practised commenting on culture in real-time. Sometimes with disastrous results. Even so, Twitter has always been keen on the wonders of newfound dialogue.

In one instance, the San Francisco 49ers played the Baltimore Ravens to decide the 2013 NFL champion. During the game, a blackout resulted in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome losing power. Soon after in the dark, Oreo tweeted this:

As social media is now plagued by layers of planning and execution, doing something spontaneously for brands is challenging. Further, a chaotic moment makes it very hard to be creative and ethical, but one internal message within the Oreo Superbowl Ad team that read: 'There are opportunities that can be realized' was the catalyst for it all. In doing so, they used humour, and all brands participated by expressing self-awareness and criticism in a way never done before. By organically attracting a digitally literate public who follow a brand for its consistently entertaining content, Twitter is arguably the playground of amusing enterprise personification. Brands are now portrayed in users' conversations as celebrities, admired for their creativity, embraced for their absurdity, and even desired to be roast for fun.

The truth, however, is that creating misinformation through personas and blending in with culture is what advertising is all about at least today. It doesn't discriminate. So keep your wits about you and remember this: Brand Twitter is outrageous, and will always be about sales. With a hint of consumerism.

But all in all, as a consumer, a little bit of humour especially in these times is always welcome.


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