A Twitter user recently shared a cute but heartwarming conversation he had with sandwich fast-food chain Subway.
On April 8, the user, who goes by “Phil” on the social media platform, shared two screenshots of private conversations he had with the chain’s Twitter account.
“Subway really has been my therapist for over a year,” Phil tweeted.
In one conversation, Phil reaches out to Subway and tells the chain that he’s sad. The restaurant responds hours later and asks what’s wrong. In another conversation, Phil thanks Subway for the support he’s received.
Phil’s tweet immediately went viral, receiving over 820,000 likes. Other Twitter users also similarly shared their interactions with other restaurant chains.
In the past decade, corporate brands have tried to connect with their social media followers by humanizing their accounts. In an impressive 2019 article, Vulture seemingly tracked the history of the “Brand Twitter” trend back to a 2007 tweet from the Los Angeles Chargers. The football team had apparently acquired the @Chargers handle from someone who regularly shared his personal thoughts (as seen below).
While some brands tried to “personify” their Twitter accounts, few, according to Vulture, were successful. Fast-food chains KFC and Pizza Hut, for example, seemed to knock it out of the park with their early tweets.
Over the years, other corporate brands have hopped on the Brand Twitter bandwagon. Netflix, Hulu and Popeyes, for instance, have all gotten into memorable exchanges with their followers and even competing brands. (If you need us to remind you, check out Popeyes’ unforgettable Twitter exchange with Chik-fil-A in 2019.)
As Vulture interestingly points out, “brand humanization ‘works’ now in part because people feel disconnected and disheartened after scrolling through the daily chaos.” But it also signals a troubling issue, according to Brendan Kelly, the person behind Nihilist Arby’s Twitter account.
“It’s the evolution of the matrix,” he told Vulture. “That’s the way social media is going. If we’re looking to brands on Twitter as a way to connect with humanity, then we’re irrevocably fractured as a society. They don’t love you. I would like to repeat that: They don’t love you.”
In a similar piece, Vice’s Alex Norcia called out the absurdity of Brand Twitter.
“Why are real human beings searching for, or at the very least expect, meaning from a brand’s social media presence?” he asked. “Have we nowhere else to look?”
So, in short, even though Subway’s conversation with Phil may have come out of good intention, it’s important to realize that, at the end of the day, it’s probably best to share whatever thoughts and feelings we harbor with an actual human being and not with a corporate Twitter account.
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