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The world's first live tweeting animal: Social Media guru #tweetingbadger

Lakshmipathy Bhat

What possible use could Twitter have for a zoo? How can a zoo use a social media platform like Twitter to drive engagement? It could talk about the exotic animals housed in the zoo (if there are such animals), it could talk about the zoo's many features and stuff like that. But are these guaranteed to drive engagement and ultimately an interest to visit the zoo? Unlikely.

That's exactly what Hellocomputer & Draftfcb Johannesburg thought when planning for a social media campaign for the Johannesburg Zoo. They decided to hire a social media manager from within and chose the resident honey badger, BJ for the job? But wait, how can an animal send out tweets you ask? That's where technology came in.

BG's high-tech badger enclosure is rigged with wireless infrared motion sensors, which are divided into six zones. The animal-friendly sensors talk to a server that holds a database of hundreds of pre-written BG tweets. As BG moves from zone to zone, the motion sensors pick up on his location and automatically trigger tweets from his Twitter account, in real-time. The built-from-scratch coding ensures that all the tweets are relevant to what BG is doing at that moment e.g. if BG is at the front section of his enclosure he will trigger people-related tweets, when he is near the sides he will trigger neighbour-related tweets and so on.

Sensational, gimmicky? Yes. Bizarre? Maybe. But can't doubt the fact that it will make people sit up and take notice. The case study video is very well put together too.

Agency: Hellocomputer & Draftfcb Johannesburg

Loved the cheeky nature of the pre-planned tweets. And talking of planning, everything seems to have been executed to a script. Proof that with some planning, a creative idea and impeccable execution, social media can be made relevant to any category. And even for a parity product like a zoo, social media buzz can do wonders in imbuing them an edge & distinctiveness.