Twitter prank for small business boosts awareness to huge proportions

Enter the online magazine, Staggered, which was designed to answer men’s pre-nuptial questions and assist grooms with their weddings, stag-dos and honeymoons. In December the online magazine was alerted by a reader to a Twitter account named Newlywedsontjob set up by a ”Anon Bestman”.

Staggered’s editor Andrew Shanahan explained, ”The account was set up by an anonymous best man who was made to promise before the wedding that he wouldn’t pull any pranks on the groom. However, while housesitting when the newlyweds were away on honeymoon he finally got the chance to play his joke. He rigged up the bed using a pressure pad so that it tweets every time the newlyweds started some amorous activity. The pressure pad logs weight, duration and even the frenzy! It’s an amazing prank and it made the Staggered team laugh a lot. Scores of other people seemed to think so too and before long this guy had over 22,000 followers on Twitter.”

”We nagged the best man with direct messages to try and get an interview,” said Mr. Shanahan. ”At first he didn’t want to do an interview so we asked about sponsoring the account, which he eventually agreed to. So everytime the newlyweds are on the job we pay a fee. As a condition we also made him promise to give us an interview when he was going to reveal the joke to the newlywed couple, which he did. When the interview went live, the best man tweeted it and traffic on the site suddenly spiked.”

Viral prank
Leveraging the viral nature of the prank was a coup for Staggered, which was launched in August 2009 and has grown organically to the point where its readership is in the tens of thousands. The deluge of traffic, however, created an unforeseen issue – the traffic load was too extreme for the company’s web server.

Mr. Shanahan continues, ”The Twitter link to the interview was incredibly popular and over 7,000 people tried to access it simultaneously. As you can guess the server wasn’t prepared for it and the site was quickly pulled to stop any damage to the server. Obviously, that meant that we were potentially without a site and missing a great opportunity. Within 10 minutes our web hosting company had moved us to our own virtual server and had us back online. It was a masterstroke of customer service, after all if we can’t provide a constant service for our readers then they’ll get annoyed and might not come back. That means we have to trust with a lot, and we do.”

So for now, the Staggered website continues to reap the benefits of the anonymous Twitter prank and has used it to introduce new readers to their brand. The lesson for other small businesses? A viral Twitter campaign can rapidly grow your awareness with customers. As for the bride and groom, Anon Bestman says in his exclusive interview that he’ll most likely reveal the prank to the newlyweds on the groom’s birthday which is February 26. Stay tuned.