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  • Elsa Caron

“Quirky” Social Media Profiles Go Viral

Courtesy of Today Testing

The average American spends about two-and-a-half hours on social media daily, and the average Gen-Z-er spends just over four hours. Social media is more prevalent in users’ day-to-day lives than ever before, and brands of many industries are taking notice.

 In the age of the internet, people are watching less TV and brands are looking for different methods to draw in a younger demographic. With ever-changing trends and fast-paced lifestyles, younger audiences need engagement that stands out from the constant media flow.  

Brands are seeing a shift away from traditional advertisement to find that the marketing that attracts the most attention seems to be an untraditional approach by creating a "personality" for their brand online. 

Although brands started utilizing newer apps such as TikTok for promotional content in the last few years, big names have taken advantage of social media apps to garner attention from younger generations. 

One of the early pioneers of the  “quirky” social media presence is the fast-food chain, Wendy’s. Wendy’s garnered attention on X, formerly known as Twitter, by utilizing the “NationalRoastDay” hashtag and talking to consumers and other brands through various roasts and jokes. 

One of their most popular tweets, a jab at McDonald’s regarding the chain’s use of frozen beef, has thousands of “retweets” alone. People were eager to see more and went as far as asking the brand to roast them.

Through Wendy’s utilization of user engagement on X, the fast-food chain saw consistent growth in profit in the fiscal year 2016 of 49.7%. The stats didn’t lie: people loved the brand’s humorous take on advertising.  

As social media becomes more accessible, big names such as Duolingo, a language learning app, and the Empire State Building’s social media accounts stand out, particularly with their sarcastic take on user engagement. Duolingo alone has amassed a large amount of followers on its TikTok account, with just under 10 million followers. 

Duolingo first gained unique attention by poking fun at their passive-aggressive notifications that remind users to do their daily language learning. On TikTok, they have given life to these notifications by accrediting them to their mascot, “Duo” the green bird who represents their brand. 

As the brand continued to develop on TikTok, it built up the personality of Duo to keep up with trends, having him follow along with the popular dances on the app and pop culture moments. 

Duolingo also weaved the narrative of having a crush on pop sensation Dua Lipa. Although this has no relation to the content that encapsulates their brand as a language learning app, it draws in significant engagement from possible consumers. 

This untraditional strategy has proven to be wildly successful. In the past two years, Duolingo has seen 160% subscriber growth since taking control of its social media personality presence. 

The extent of “human” social media extends beyond traditional brands and even into tourist destinations such as the Empire State Building, which draws primarily into consumers’ appeal to pop sensation Taylor Swift and her loyal fanbase of  “Swifties.”

On November 26, 2023, the Empire State Building tweeted out “There will be no explanation,” alluding to the re-release of Swift’s 2017 album, “Reputation.”

This tweet alone garnered  14.3 million views and over 100,000 likes. By leaning into a younger generation of loyal fans and turning away from a more standard take on marketing, the Empire State Building gained attention from an unusual audience. 

These social media presences also make consumers feel more connected to brands. This allows consumers to put an identity to brands beyond just a name and logo. 

An example of this occurred recently when Elmo’s X account sent out a simple question: “How is everybody doing?” This tweet alone has amassed 210 million views. 

This is far more effective than their traditional posts promoting new products and shows, with their most recent Sesame Street promotional post having a far smaller audience of just over 650,000 views. Their “non-promotional” tweet had almost 323 times as many views in comparison. 

The signs are clear: putting identities on brands is working. 

With more and more opportunities on social media through new trends and apps, brands must learn to embrace their “quirky” sides to draw in a generation of consumers driven by the internet. 


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