By now we’ve all heard about it. During the Super Bowl, J.C. Penney appeared to either have a hacker tweeting from their Twitter account, or had someone on staff drunk tweeting from it.
Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0
— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 2, 2014
Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???
— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014
But J.C. Penney pulled a fast one on the entire Twittersphere. Apparently they were #TweetingWithMittens.
— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014
So let’s evaluate. How did this tactic do for J.C. Penney?
J.C. Penney has been making a shift in brand over the last couple of years (technically a couple of different shifts), and I think has definitely been trying to move to a more hip feel, attracting a younger clientele, and making it more than “just another department store.” Unfortunately, I’m not sure faking drunk tweeting or a hacked account is the right way to accomplish this brand image. As a consumer, this doesn’t give me the confidence in the brand that I would expect to have. Especially among all the hacking going on with credit card data recently, I’d like the reassurance that the store can keep it’s Twitter account from being hack at the minimum.
On the other hand, if you read through J.C. Penney’s tweets, this type of humor does fit in with what they post. So they are not completely off the mark, but I now definitely feel a difference between their social media personality, and what I know J.C. Penney as.
I feel like these kinds of Tweets don’t fit well with who J.C. Penney is talking to. I’ll be honest, I could be wrong on this, but I think J.C. Penney’s audience is diverse across many age groups, and that this may not resonate with that audience. Even if it was a joke, I’m not sure everyone got it, and I’m just not sure it didn’t leave a bad taste in customer’s mouths.
If you look at the retweets and favorites of the three tweets above, the first misspelled tweet received 19,874 retweets and 8,724 favorites, the second had 23,188 retweets and 10,365 favorites (at time of posting). The tweet with the brand message and contained the punchline received 3,838 retweets and 2,139 favorites. There is a huge difference between these! Way more people saw that J.C. Penney made mistakes on their Twitter account than saw that it was a joke. I know that there will always be more engagement on the “mistakes” than the punchline, simply because people would much rather see a train wreck, than a social media stunt, but that is a risk you take with this kind of posting. In this case, I think the difference is huge, and I wonder how many people still don’t know that J.C. Penney was just #TweetingWithMittens.
J.C. Penney has been pushing these Go USA mittens for a little while now to support Team USA in the Sochi Olympics. But, they tweeted this joke during the Super Bowl. Both teams belong to the USA, so it didn’t quite make sense to me. They could have attempted the same joke during the Opening Ceremony or another big Olympic event, and I think the content would have resonated much better. Instead, personally I was confused. Maybe it was J.C. Penney’s way of not rooting for a specific team, but if that’s the case, they didn’t do a good job of staying impartial, since they “said” “Go Seahawks” in one of their tweets.
J.C. Penney’s #TweetingWithMittens did have a very evident positive, 8,824 new followers. They have definitely been acquiring new followers over time, with a recent large spike in addition to the Super Bowl spike. Time will tell if this spike of followers were worth it, when we can see if those followers remained, or unfollowed after the joke was up.
Winner or Loser?
Personally, I give kudos to J.C. Penney for taking a risk during a huge Twitter traffic time. Part of social media is finding out what your audience will react to, and you have some go tos that you know will accomplish what you need to, but you always have to be trying to find the next thing, and attract new audiences. The only way to do that is with a little trial and error. Unfortunately, I’m not sure this risk paid off.