I expect you have seen the Weetabix and beans tweet this week, and all the brand reactions to it.
There are five reasons that this quirky campaign marked an important milestone in social media comms history.
1. Weetabix and beans brought the whole country together (even if it was in shared disgust)
‘Why did this go viral?’, you may ask. We learn how to make this kind of content in the Social Media Comms Academy – it’s to do with psychology.
In a very complex and confusing world, being sure about something gives us a wonderful feeling of satisfaction.
And it’s easy be certain about your own opinion on if beans on ‘bix is something you’d like on your breakfast menu.
It is politically uncontroversial, but prompts a strong emotional response.
So people engaged, shared and chatted about it.
Added good feelings came from a sense of connection and agreement with the other people who also think it is a minging serving suggestion.
It brought us together.
For one day we were no longer divided.
It was a kind of anti-Brexit moment.
2. Comms pros were on it like Shakespeare on a sonnet
All sorts of brands, were quick to reply – some got thousands of likes and comments in response to their comments.
Comms pros spotted the opportunity, came up with a witty response and shared it pronto.
Back in the day, the approval process for sharing anything was a tortoise-paced living nightmare.
But the tone, sassiness and speed of comms responses showed us that the days of getting tweets signed-off are long behind us.
We know what we’re doing, and we don’t need to wait for permission.
3. We’re overcoming fear of party-poopers
Sometimes it’s our fear of bosses and colleagues. Sometimes it’s fear of our audiences. Often it’s the little voices in our heads:
“Is this professional?”
“Shouldn’t you be getting on with some real work?”
“Isn’t this tone a bit too silly for the brand?’
What most people who don’t do our job don’t understand is this.
Everyone has an opinion.
We often make decisions based on our best judgement knowing that it won’t please everyone.
It’s lots easier to not try anything fresh, than to put yourself in the firing line by doing something that might be cool (but might not work).
3. Responses were funny.
The most serious brands, like the NHS, GCHQ and West Yorkshire Police saw that it’s a good idea to get involved in more fun content.
A quote I like so much that I put it in our brochure, comes from John Cleese:
It’s not clowning around. Comedy is a clever tactic.
Not all the time, in any context, of course.
But it’s one of many ways to connect with people.
I’ve been studying this for a few years and have a masterclass coming up in March on how to be funny: The ‘Comms-edy’ Masterclass: How be be a funny brand on social media (without messing it up).
5. Understanding that attention, novelty, and relevance gets real results
It’s taken a while, but finally, we’re throwing away old-skool myths about return on investment.
Many people think the job of comms is 100% about sharing information, and promoting services, messages and products.
Success is about the long game.
Chatting to your audiences, so they get to know the people behind the logo.
You’re investing in brand-building.
The more people like and engage with you about something that interests them, the more they are likely to take notice of you when you have something important to say.
Communities are built on trust.
Real relationships aren’t transactional.
And you’re never going to go viral by just telling everyone about your services.
That’s what all the brands who replied to the Weetabix tweet were doing.
Starting conversations their audiences actually want to join.
As for Weetabix: they know they are reaching new audiences (or reminding old audiences they’re there), and training the Twitter algorithm to understand that their brand is relevant and interests people.
Nobody was saying the product itself is disgusting, by the way. It’s just the idea of combining Weetabix and beans that caused people to retch.
If anything, it evoked memories for those of us who were brought up on Weetabix that it’s a nice breakfast option.
Yesterday I put some on my Sainsbury’s order for a bit of tasty childhood nostalgia.
It got everybody talking about Weetabix – and you cannot buy that kind of reaction.
The tweet even made it into a discussion in parliament*, where Weetabix endorsements were so enthusiastic that made me wonder if these MPs have shares in it.
*Trigger warning – this tweet contains Jacob Rees Mogg and may not be suitable for those with weak stomachs.
All in all, Weetabix created an iconic comms cultural landmark that showed, through something as silly as breakfast, that we, the comms community, have reached social media maturity.
It makes me think of all the times in my career when people told me that Twitter should be dismissed as people ‘just talking about their breakfast’.
It IS that, but so so much more.
Social Media Managers Comms Academy is open for enrolments
All at a time that fits around work and home commitments.
It includes the Social Media Expert Course, which you take at your own pace with 18 short modules that cover:
• How to be strategic
• Being a super social media storyteller
• Powerful copywriting for social media posts
• Thumbstopping video
• Fun content tools and apps
…and loads more.
Plus the content calendar and templates.
Here’s the link to enrol so you can transform your social media into the most engaging and successful comms for your organisation.