Hostess Scores a “Touchdown” on Opening Day; But Is This Really What Brands Want?

Baseball’s Opening Day, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite days of the year. While our National Pastime has suffered setbacks over the years, baseball is a sport of tradition in this country — one that nobody, in their right mind, could ever possibly confuse with any other popular sport.

Or, could they?

No, this wasn’t another example of a major league (get it?) social media fail; Hostess put this tweet out intentionally, knowing the amount of attention that the apparent “mix-up” would likely garner.

(It’s at this point where I mention that numerous publications, and hundreds of respondents on Twitter, did believe this to be done in error. Hostess later confirmed that this was, indeed, intentional — though I’m not sure how anyone could have legitimately thought otherwise.)

And it worked.

As you can see above, the Hostess Opening Day tweet was retweeted over 1100 times at the time of this post, favorited another 600+ times, and has a string of replies a mile long. Marketing Land  is reporting that this tweet’s engagement rate, on RTs alone, is over a 52,000% lift over the company’s average.

But, I have to ask, is engagement due to an error (that wasn’t really an error at all) good for businesses on social media?

Of course it is.

What’s the entire point of social media for brands if not to a) engage with their audience and b) reinforce brand awareness? Hostess accomplished both of these things with their “Touchdown” post — all without spending money on sponsored content, flashy design, or a high-profile spokesperson. It may be a bit corny, and obvious to those of us with marketing backgrounds; but Hostess accomplished more in the world of social today than many would care to admit.

Not only did the audience take note of Hostess’ “flub”, but other brands got in on the fun. SI pointed out the, ahem, “error” of Hostess’ ways, and even Denny’s — a regular Trending Topic troller themselves — gave the brand kudos for their post.  

This isn’t to say, mind you, that I’d want to see something like this become a commonplace amongst brands on social; nor do I recommend SMMs begin to put this type of strategy into their pitch decks. The Hostess Opening Day tweet, like JC Penney’s “tweeting with mittens” Super Bowl posts in 2014, can open brands up to large amounts of exposure during competitive times — though, they should be considered the exception to, rather than the rule.