The Whopper Campaign

Burger King along with their ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky recently launched a Facebook application named Whopper Sacrifice. Burger King's tongue in cheek Facebook application had users delete 10 friends from their network to receive an e-mailed coupon for the new Angry Whopper. The friends were then sent a message announcing their deletion in favor of a fast food sandwich. Ouch...

To date, Burger King claims 232,566 friends were deleted in favor of the free Whopper. In addition, the campaign has sparked controversy with more than the 232,566 former Facebook friends. After going live for only a couple of days, the application was hacked allowing people to get a free burger without dismissing 10 friends. Then Facebook shut down the application proclaiming it violated user's privacy. The termination is allegedly temporary, but after being hacked and shut down by Facebook I wouldn't be surprised if the app was gone for good.

While some may say this campaign has been unsuccessful I have to disagree. The controversy surrounding Whopper Sacrifice has generated so much buzz that I'm sure Burger King has far surpassed its awareness goals. A quick Google search will show you that articles about the campaign have appeared in the New York Daily News, L.A. Times, Media Post, New York Times and MSNBC to name a few.

That is not to say I don't have my own criticisms of the campaign. While I admire Burger King and CP+B for thinking outside the box and using social media in a unique way, I'm not sure of the overall strategy. This Facebook application has certainly raised awareness and encouraged people to try the Angry Whopper, but it also flies in the face of Facebook creators. Typically the idea is to gain friends not lose them. An application that forces users to lose friends is sure to get Marc Zuckerberg a little miffed. True, Facebook is not hurting for users, but I wonder how eager they or other social networking sites will be to work with these companies in the future.

Have Burger King and CP+B jeopardized their standing with social networks?

Not so long ago, when people punched out and went home for the day they were done worrying about their professional image. They were free to relax with friends, and even get a little... Crazy. This does not hold true today. In an era where competition is as fierce as ever, my generation does not only need to worry about getting into the best schools, having the best grades or even landing the perfect internship. Instead, many are worrying about their online presence and how it may be affecting their current job and job search.

With everyone Facebooking and Twittering the social media space does not only belong to a circle of close friends. For many it is not uncommon for an aunt, uncle or even parent to be part of their social network. Furthermore, many people are "friending" colleagues.

I am a big fan of social media, but I must admit that sometimes I yearn for the days where the only harm an unflattering picture could cause is a mild humiliation in class on Monday.

Today I manage five to six different social media accounts. Not only do I try to make sure all of these online spaces are kept current, but I also worry about the messages I send out. Would my coworkers and family approve of my Facebook status? What about that last tweet? There's no complaining about work or the company when one of your friends is a V.P. Is it ok to decline a coworkers friend request? And, how much is too much, or not enough? If I don't tweet everyday will I be considered out of the loop? If I tweet 10 times a day will people think I'm neurotic?

The hardest and greatest part about social media is there are no rules. There aren't even many social norms. What is appropriate and what's not is completely up to the person and their social network.

On either side of this debate are two, I think, valid arguments. The first is that the Internet is a public space, and if a person is leary about some of their "extra curriculars" they should think twice before posting online. The second deals with the right to privacy. I think it's safe to say that most social media web sites allow the user to play around with their own privacy settings. For instance, I block all of those who I have formed professional relationships with from viewing my photos on Facebook. To all my professional friends it's nothing personal, but as I try to brand myself online I don't want you looking at photos from my latest Saturday night at the bar.

Which brings me to my main question. Is there a way to enjoy all social media has to offer without compromising yourself? Is it possible to keep parts of your private life private online? If we remain professional it can take much of the fun out of social media. If we strip our Facebook profiles to look like nondescript paper cutouts we are left with little sense of authenticity and character.

Is there a solution? A way to have fun with social media while not scaring away potential clients and job offers? What about creating two online persona's? One with an alias to be used with close friends and another to be used for business?

Right now I am debating whether or not to post this to my Twitter and Facebook account. How will my colleagues react when they see my hesitation towards sharing my whole self with them online? I guess I'll have to wait and see. Until then, how do you manage your professional and private lives online?

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