A Cautionary Tale: Red Flag Emoji on Twitter

Hardly any Twitter trend is off limits to brands. If it’s humorous, all the better—provided your brand is in on the joke. Last month, brands from all over the world tested their knack for irony by latching onto the new ‘red flag’ trend. While many succeeded at it, at least one San Antonio organization may have unintentionally raised its own red flag to followers.

In an ideal world, we would all get along with each other and only meet kindred spirits. But the reality is that some of us simply rub others the wrong way. Fortunately, there are “red flags,” or warning signs we receive from newfound acquaintances. At best, they betray a mismatch of personalities or taste. Worst case scenario: the interlocutor cannot be trusted. For instance, if someone says to you on a first date, “Austin makes the best breakfast tacos,” you might want to start looking for the door.

Enter the red flag emoji on twitter. If social media places us in our virtual tribes, the red flag feature lets the world know whose tribe we do not belong to. Since mid-October, users have been tweeting presumably problematic quotes or behavior – real or imagined – that could serve as red flags, followed by a long array of red flag emojis.

The trend first started with users specifically talking about dating. One of the first such tweets to gain traction was posted by @mykelrenee:

Once the formula spread like wildfire, brands soon took note. Opting for simplicity, Pepsi simply drew a line in the sand between consumers and non-consumers of its product:

PGA’s tweet was, by far, its top performing post this month.

Even our very own San Antonio River Authority tried to get in on it, but unfortunately, didn’t quite get the concept.

Its attempt at participating in the trend, completely devoid of irony, fell flat, resulting in low engagement and the ridicule of a handful of users.

Props for trying to play though… 😉

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