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Approximately 500 million tweets are sent per day, and there’s no edit button. Who knows how many of them have errant typos — a word missing, an incomplete sentence, a misplaced curse word.
But when Philadelphia’s flagship public university commits a cardinal social media gaffe, chronically online Philadelphians are going to make a meme out of it.
On Wednesday afternoon, the official @TempleUniv Twitter account sent out a single word to its 160,000 followers.
Just Temple — no what, or when or how, or even a period. Just Temple.
The snafu went viral, or as viral as a Tweet goes in Philly, garnering 1,400 retweets and 945,000 impressions in less than 24 hours, according to Victoria Chhor, a digital marketing coordinator on the team responsible for running the account.
What happened? The university’s digital marketing team doesn’t really have an answer, but they did eventually take advantage of the popularity, posting a reply that points to the donation page for student aid funds.
“We actually don’t know how this happened. We could pretend to chalk it up to a strategy, but it really was just an accident,” said Chhor, who was working the day the Tweet was sent. She believes it was likely a glitch with the team’s third party social media management system, Khoros, which scheduled an incomplete draft.
“Nobody even knows what the tweet was supposed to say,” Chhor said.
Within minutes of the rogue social media post, Twitter users were turning it into fodder for a slew of jokes.
Some treated it like breaking news, perhaps the kind that could quell rumors around a potential new football coach.
Others made comparisons to snafus from other major brands, like the time Foot Locker responded to a question about store hours with it’s own name.
Or when British politician and ex-Parliament member Edward Balls accidentally tweeted his own name in 2011.
Eventually, other brands and institutions got in on the fun, capitalizing on the Tweet’s virality to build clout for their own social media handles — from the university’s student-run news broadcast Temple Update to New Jersey’s Seton Hall University and social network Reddit’s popular college football page.
Why did Temple run with the typo? Because mistakes are trendy.
Over the past year, colleges and universities have been adapting their social media strategies to attract Gen Z students, whose internet personas are irreverent, self-deprecating, and sometimes, even a little basic. Across the United States, universities have been taking advantage of apps like TikTok to build brand awareness, whether it’s Utah’s Brigham Young University teaching its mascot viral dances or students within New York City’s City College system making fun of their mathematical abilities on the university system’s official TikTok account.
“At first we were like, ‘Should we delete it?’ ” said Chhor, who mentioned the digital marketing team was aware of the accident as soon as it happened. “But, we saw it starting to get a lot of traction and that people loved it, so we decided to roll with it.”
She has since pinned the Tweet to top of the @TempleUniv feed, so it’ll be immortalized until something bigger than a shitpost happens.
“Even though the Tweet was an accident,” Chhor said, “it was the best accident possible.”