The Twinkies Twitter Tornado

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Every so often, Twitter marketing transcends the usual slew of carefully-composed tweets and cleverly-plotted hashtags. Yes, once in a branding blue moon, the company in question — for better or worse —becomes the hashtag and the hot topic in everyone’s newsfeeds. Precisely that happened last Friday when snack-cake company Hostess announced it would shut its doors. Spokesfolk for the purveyor of Ding Dongs and Twinkies said the company was forced to go out of business after being unable to reach an agreement with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Within moments of the announcement, the generation raised on Hostess products took to Twitter to mourn the loss of the sugary confections.

Hostess, Ding Dongs and of course Twinkies all started trending on Twitter on Friday afternoon. Everybody weighed in with Hostess-themed tweets and, naturally, the memes were next in line to flood the Internet, as now is customary in situations like these. Not only did tweeters use the social media platform to say goodbye to the beloved junk food, they also were eager to weigh in on the age-old debates about unions and the economy. Hostess trended on through Monday morning when it was announced that a federal judge delayed Hostess’ bankruptcy hearing in order for the company to meet with the unions. Things have certainly been better in TwinkieLand, but on social media, the company has never been more popular.

Many are wondering if the renewed public interest — specifically that which generated on social media — could end up saving Hostess from its looming demise. Possibly, but either way, Twitter interest in the company can’t hurt. In fact, a few years back we noted in these very pages that Hostess could use a lot of help in the digital marketing department. Limp social media and a depressing website surely didn’t help the company avoid bankruptcy. It’s impossible to say whether Hostess could have avoided the current mess had it been savvier with social media and online marketing. Yet it can’t be denied that when it comes to putting a forgotten company back on our collective lips, nothing does the trick better than Twitter.

Digital Face Lift #1- Hostess Snack Cakes

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This is the first in a  special series of  Thursday blogs that aims to give familiar but dated brands a digital face-lift by using social media, original videos, article marketing, mobile marketing and blogging.

The Patient: Hostess Snack Cakes purveyors of Twinkies, Cupcakes, and Ho Hos.

The Ailment: Hostess suffers from a chronically lame website, a lack of identity, a dwindling presence online, and a sagging social media strategy.

Prognosis: Grim. If the snack food brand refuses to step into 2010, Twinkies could be a thing of the past.

Recommended Treatment: When the going gets tough, the tough reach out for something fun. Sure, Twinkies are the exact thing films like Food Inc. are warning people against. Yet Hostess Snack Cakes like cheesy action films or reality TV serve their purpose: in moderation they provide a little fun and a little escape. So there’s no reason the classic junk food can’t get an update and survive well into the next decade.

First off, Hostess needs to lighten the heck up. Jeeze. It’s Ding Dongs, not prunes for crying out loud. Their website is a flat, bland affair with little reason to ever return other than the promise of coupons upon signing more