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Netflix Is Really, Really Thirsty For Your Attention On Twitter

Even when you’re not watching the streaming service, Netflix wants you to be thinking about it.
11/14/2018 02:49pm ET

You know how brands like Wendy’s and MoonPie sometimes tweet jokes with “internet speak” to seem cool and down with the kids?

Cutesy things like this:

And you know how that can be super annoying, but at least these corporate marketing accounts do it only a couple of times a week?

Well, if you haven’t noticed, Netflix ― one of the most valuable companies in the world ― tweets like this all day, every day from multiple Twitter handles. And tens of thousands of people have been liking and retweeting these “jokes,” validating the strategy and clearly encouraging Netflix to expand its meme empire.

The streaming service is hard to avoid on Twitter. Aside from the main Netflix account, which makes at least a few of these internet jokes a day, Netflix also has accounts like “Netflix Is A Joke” and “Don’t Watch Hungry.” These two ostensibly market comedy and food content, respectively, but also tweet a deluge of internet jokes each week. Netflix has similar Twitter accounts for other genres and sub-genres of content it offers, has accounts for different countries, and has separate accounts for much of its Original content (such as “Stranger Things” and “BoJack Horseman”). All told, the company has dozens of accounts ... and counting.

In addition, Netflix occasionally contracts with actual meme accounts to push out its content, which you can recognize by the #ad disclosures. You might follow “WeRateDogsTM” and expect to get a pic of a cute dog with a rating in your Twitter timeline. Instead, you get an ad for “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” which famously features a cat.

I started documenting Netflix’s strange Twitter strategy back at the beginning of 2018.

In my weekly Streamline newsletter that ― among other things ― recommends what to watch on Netflix, I often include a section that highlights a Netflix tweet.

“The Netflix Twitter account is one of those try-hard media brands that likes to make jokes,” the first newsletter said. It included a Netflix tweet that made a joke about “Shrek.” This tweet got about 25,000 likes at the time.

Since then, Netflix has continued making jokes about “Shrek.” This can be explained by the unfortunate fact that the “internet” thinks references to Shrek are funny both because of nostalgia and because of this horrifying NSFW video.

Just last week, Netflix hopped on the bandwagon and tweeted a “Shrek” joke combined with a meme from the new Ariana Grande song “thank u, next.” Many, many brands (like Wendy’s) also used this particular meme last week. Very hip. Very not hacky.

If you tweet a joke at Netflix that also promotes Netflix content, you have a good chance of getting a retweet to its more than 5.3 million followers. That massive exposure creates an incentive for others to advertise the brand ― kind of like when that nuggets kid went viral promoting Wendy’s.

Earlier this week, someone found a way to incorporate both the Netflix show “Queer Eye” and the brand-new Netflix Film “Outlaw King” into a meme. Of course that got retweeted by the main Netflix account.

If a celebrity tweets about Netflix, the company seems to go on red alert to capitalize on the moment. When musician and internet celebrity Lil Yachty tweeted that he wanted “Big Mouth” merchandise, Netflix quickly made a custom graphic that depicted Lil Yachty as a character in the show.

Of course Netflix featured him in all Netflix red, with a custom Netflix sweatshirt. Looks like an ad to me.

Now, plenty of people and publications have called out the social media teams at companies like Wendy’s for what they are ― marketing. When Netflix acts like Steve Buscemi in “30 Rock” saying “How do you do, fellow kids,” the company does that to encourage you to give up more of your money. All of these social media jokes are transactional.

So the question has to be: Why would you join Netflix’s booster team just because it references Shrek for the umpteenth time?

No matter how much money Netflix spends on a social media team seeking to blur the distinction, the conglomerate won’t be like the “Shrek” donkey and make you waffles in the morning. Netflix will make sure it charges your credit card every month, though. Of course, now that I say this, I’m sure the social media department will give everyone Eggo waffles to promote “Stranger Things” and prove me wrong. But until then, please stop retweeting this company’s marketing campaign.

Ji Sub Jeong/HuffPost