An outlandish parody account of the fast food eatery, Arby's, has popped up on Twitter in the last couple months: Nihilist Arby's. Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can truly be known or communicated. This way of thinking is often associated with pessimism. So, as you can imagine, this account's take on Arby's food is... well, bleak and hilarious.
What's interesting is that, though the regular Arby's account has a much bigger following (they've been around longer, after all), the interaction with the Nihilist Arby's account is much larger. Nihilist Arby's has 21.6k followers and Arby's has 420k. Though, while the Arby's page gets about 30 retweets and favorites per post, Nihilist Arby's gets somewhere in the 300 range. People are loving Nihilist Arby's!
Did Arby's miss out on a branding opportunity?
If Arby's themselves tweeted with self-deprecating, dark humor, I'm not sure if they'd get the same following. People who follow and respond to Nihilist Arby's aren't necessarily Arby's food fans. Though, it all depends on who their fan base is. If Arby's did the research and their customer base consisted of Nihilist-loving fast food enthusiasts, they could be kicking themselves right about now, or they might think about a way to incorporate the parody account into their own brand somehow. A simple retweet of a Nihilist Arby's post could show that they're in on the fun, have a good sense of humor, and open their doors to a new community.
So what does this teach us about branding?
When you visit the Arby's twitter page, you notice that they pretty much only post about their food, and not even with especially flattering food photography. They do have a humorous, youthful voice that they use to comment on all things Arby's food-related, but the parody account certainly has a larger presence that garners a larger response. It's a good lesson in taking a big marketing risk. Sure, Nihilist Arby's didn't have anything to lose, but look at all they gained. Another great example of this is the Denny's account. Their voice is borderline absurdist and they've earned a large, cult-like following because of it. They took a huge risk and their audience ate it up (pun intended).
It helps to vary your posting content. If you own a bakery, don't solely post pictures of your baked goods. Add some variety by posting bakery-related articles, recipes, jokes, videos you like, etc. Of course you're expected to mostly post about your business, but a little variety helps to break things up and keep your audience interested.
Additionally, sometimes it pays in big ways to take marketing risks. Choosing a huge presence of a voice that is catered to your business and its audience is a good risk to take. Just be sure to do your research before deciding on how your business will speak. Look at your target markets- how do they speak? How do the other businesses they follow speak? Do your homework, create a large presence, and speak loud and proud.