This was it. The big moment. Facebook and its sibling social platforms Instagram and WhatsApp inexplicably went down. Only one platform with the required hot take immediacy was up and running, and its social content team was ready.
hello literally everyone
— Twitter (@Twitter) October 4, 2021
Hellsite. Hellscape. Doomscrolling. Twitter isn’t exactly squeaky clean among social media users thanks to a lot of the sheer rage it channels about everything from presidential politics to Squid Game, but when all of our other tools of public digital discourse dried up, it was here. And, much like the Twitter brand itself, Brand Twitter quickly reacted. Social media managers undoubtedly saw this as their own “Lose Yourself” moment. This was Mo Lewis tackling Drew Bledsoe.
WhatsApp and Instagram were among the first to respond, because they really didn’t have anything else to do.
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) October 4, 2021
Soon it was a cascade of Brand Twitter. Xbox, Snickers, Reddit, KFC, PBS, Starbucks, Steak-Umm, and McDonald’s kept it rolling.
hi what can i get u
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) October 4, 2021
Perfect time for a coffee break.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) October 4, 2021
twitter stays winning
— KFC Gaming (@kfcgaming) October 4, 2021
You were made for this moment
— Oscar Mayer (@oscarmayer) October 4, 2021
hey what's up, how about that game last night
— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2021
— Microsoft Teams (@MicrosoftTeams) October 4, 2021
Not only did Twitter seize the opportunity, its response provided every other brand on its platform a reason and a place to comment, and take their own swing at tapping into this as a cultural moment. It’s the kind of thing that will almost certainly appear in an ad industry awards case-study video somewhere. Ever since Oreo dunked in the dark during the Super Bowl in 2013, brands have aimed to create social content that would both capitalize and entertain during a collective experience. With our increasingly fractured media landscape, these moments are few and far between, save for the kind of depressing and tragic news that no brand wants to touch with a 10-foot tweet.
So when a light-hearted situation like this hits (although outages at a major social network have serious implications), we get a tidal wave of commercialism aiming for cleverness. Technological instability is inevitable from time to time. If you can count on nothing else, count on this: To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, advertising finds a way.