Crisis Response In The Age Of Parody Accounts & Viral Social Media

November 15th 2021 | Jhalisa John

Over the weekend, a band of local companies caused quite the commotion on TikTok.


But only, it wasn't the real companies.


It was their parodies.

In case you've been living under a rock, or maybe you're in your seventies like my granny and you don't know what a parody account is, allow me to explain.


Parody accounts impersonate real people, organizations and in some very peculiar instances, objects - like Pharrel's hat.


These fake profiles post content on social media websites (mainly memes) and act as the real person, brand, or thing that they're impersonating - except they're way more funny.


Parody accounts have personality. A favorable trait that unfortunately a lot of big brands, celebrities, and organizations are lacking.


They provide comedic relief and their posts are refreshingly relatable.


These types of accounts have been around for over a decade.


In fact, I remember following parody accounts on Twitter way back when I was a teenager in secondary school.


So the concept is not entirely new.


Very popular parody accounts like The Queen, Bored Elon Musk, and Netflix Is A Joke attract millions of followers and generate thousands of dollars in revenue.


There's even an annual Shorty Award for the best parody/meme account on social media.


So as you can see, this is a very legitimate and lucrative business.


One which Trinibagonians have only recently discovered apparently.

About What Happened On TikTok

One person, or perhaps a group of persons, decided to capitalize on a missed opportunity.


A gap.


As usual, many local companies are asleep at the switch and haven't yet joined TikTok.


So this person (or persons), took it upon themselves to create parody profiles for every major business in Trinidad & Tobago - and started posting content.


Each parody account would even comment on another company's parody page when they posted, and people were loving it.


Everything was going great until one of these parody accounts got out of character and started commenting profanities.


And suddenly, what was meant to be a lighthearted joke, turned into a PR nightmare and possible crisis.


Many started calling on real companies to step forward and intervene.


Others chanted songs of lawsuits and defamation.


But most (and by "most" I mean the intelligent folks who understand the current times we're living in and this crazy world of social media) decided to look the other way; ignore the jokesters.


But what if you're the owner or CEO of one of these very real companies who has had your reputation muddied thanks to these parodies?


What should you do then?


Well, I'll tell you.


You should hire me!


I can help you do damage control.


Okay, I'm kidding.


But here's what you should really do instead...


Nothing.


Yes. That's what I said.


Do absolutely nothing.


Sit back, put your feet up and bask in all of the attention your firm is getting.


Here's why: No one in their right mind thinks a parody account is actually the real company posting.

Additionally, I am almost positive that the persons behind these accounts are juveniles; teenagers who are home from school, and have nothing worthwhile to do.


Come on now!


And as far as your brand reputation goes, it hasn't been negatively affected.


If anything, people are shaking their heads in disappointment at the person or persons behind the vulgar comments left by some of these parodies.


But their overall perception of your company is more or less unchanged.


So, you don't need to go put out a press release this week or run a full-page ad in the newspapers to denounce this.


You have better things to do with your valuable time and money.


Speaking of which, maybe it's time you guys start investing in TikTok.


I mean, it's still not too late.


You can collaborate with niche influencers on the platform to create a really great promotional campaign and then have each of them tag you.


I mean, I have a ton of ideas and tips for how you can go about this, but you'll have to contact me for it.


Oh, what you thought? I was going to give you my ideas for free?


Okay, I'm kidding again.


Or maybe my blog has been hacked by a parody.


Maybe...


Anyways, follow me on TikTok - I actually give away lots of free small business and marketing advice every single day.


For more specific advice and social media strategy tailored to your unique company, email me at jhalisajohncompany@gmail.com