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Lessons you can learn from this porn site’s Twitter stuff up

Monday marked Martin Luther King Day in America. And while citizens celebrated what would have been the 85th birthday of the US Civil Rights icon, a Twitter account affiliated with Canadian porn website Pornhub also decided to mark the event.

“Happy MLK. In honor of his death, make sure to only use the Ebony category today,” the tweet from Pornhub read. Delicately put, “Ebony” denotes the category of pornography that only features black actors.

 

 

The account describes itself as the “the official Pornhub Twitter” and claims that “Pornhub is the #1 free porn site in the world.” (However, according to two separate Wikipedia entries, Pornhub only ranks third in the global ranking of porn websites.)

Whatever the case, the Pornhub account has about 270 000 followers, and the “honor” tweet was RTed more than 4000 times. Possibly predictably, the reaction from the Twittersphere was swift.

 

 

 

 

The tweet ended up trending in various locations around the US and even managed to make a splash in the South African Twittersphere. This was despite it being tweeted close towards midnight, South African time. But for anyone questioning just how viral the tweet was, within a few minutes of being posted it had warranted its own Buzzfeed post.

But like a very sick and twisted phoenix, Pornhub seemed to rise from the ashes of its crash and burn.

 

There is no doubt that Pornhub’s interpretation of King’s iconic “I have a dream speech” is certainly unique and won’t be found in any serious essay on the topic anytime soon. It would also be fair to guess that the staunchly religious Dr King, a Baptist minister, never meant for his speech to be thus interpreted.

General Twitter reactions to the apology were hardly any better to reactions to the original tweet.

 

 

 

But if we’re looking to draw any kind of social media marketing lessons from this episode, I would argue that this does not actually matter.

When one considers the values Pornhub may be trying to communicate with its social media marketing efforts, to its particular audience, the apology makes a weird kind of sense. Of course, this sensibility does not bother with how abhorrent the general public’s feelings may be when it comes to linking Dr King to a porn website.

While most may find the apology just as bad, if not worse than the original tweet – if we go by the update included in the Buzzfeed article – it really doesn’t matter when looked at from the angle of social media marketing.

The only thing that really matters is what Pornhub’s social media audience thinks. As mercenary as it may sound — particularly in this case — the lesson for brands here is that what your audience thinks trumps whatever others thinks.

To debunk this opinion, some might point to other memorable corporate social media gaffes such as last year’s 9/11 Twitter post by US mobile service provider AT&T. I, however, would argue that in this case such examples only amplify the lesson Pornhub is teaching social media marketers. Looking at responses to the AT&T example, it is clear that post didn’t resonate with that brand’s market, which also happened to be the general public.

Though some may charge tweet-theft, the number of responses to Pornhub’s original gaffe tweet — which said exactly what its apology tweet said – indicates that the site struck just the right cord for its audience.

Call me crazy, but I have an odd and very unsettling feeling that maybe, after years of countless corporate social media missteps, the Twitter account of a porn website may have executed the best recovery from a social media gaffe ever.

Author | Mvelase Peppetta

Mvelase Peppetta
Mvelase is a Senior Account Manager at Irvine Bartlett one of the most sought after full service public relations companies in South Africa. Mvelase is passionate about all things digital and the social media landscape, particularly as it relates to the integration of digital public relations management within the traditional... More
  • Pornhub Katie

    You nailed it pretty well. I would just correct you that even without the apology tweet, it would still have been a social media success. As soon as you have dozens of press mentions, 10,000s of tumblr notes, thousands of RTs, for a porn website, that’s a win. As long as you can stay on the thin line of “offensive yet funny”.

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