Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Phil Mickelson and The Case of The Ridiculous Retweets

An interesting thing just happened on Twitter: an account claiming to be the golfer Phil Mickelson (unverified) just promised to donate $1,000 to the Exxon Mobil Foundation for every retweet.

A retweet is easy. It's what they call slacktivism. And the result is that tweet was instantly retweeted by 50+ people. That's when Twitter stops counting...I would assume it will be retweeted thousands of times. Without question.

But think for even a fraction of a second and you'll realise this is too good to be true. This is either an extremely awkward typo or a pointless prank. Or perhaps it is the real Phil Mickelson and he just hasn't got a clue how Twitter works (would the real Phil Mickelson have two underscores in his username?). Or...hopefully...it's true.

Regardless of the truth I'm willing to bet the Exxon Mobil Foundation isn't going to see any money off the back of this...


Let's look at this totally cynically...

The first thing I did when I saw this was Google the 'Exxon Mobil Foundation'. I'd never heard of it. When I think of Exxon I think tragic oil spill. So as a result of this tweet I now know about their foundation and the level of their generosity.

So could this be a truly underhanded marketing ploy? I genuinely don't think it is, but what if it was?

All it takes is an employee of an unknown charity organisation to set up a fake celebrity Twitter account, get a few followers and then make this outrageous claim. You deny all knowledge of it and publicly question why anyone would do such a thing. Watch the traffic increase. Just look at the mentions of this Twitter account and the Exxon Mobil Foundation. Let's keep an eye on the search trends and see what kind of spike this causes.

Totally unethical? Yes.

Would it work? Probably?

Did Exxon Mobil do this? I doubt it...if it was a marketing person they would have put in a link.

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