Many professionals today remain stumped by social media and the various platforms, each with their own unique rules and nuances. Often, businesses tend to use social media as a one-trick pony – and only as an additional sales tool. Public relations practitioners, however, understand that social media represents limitless possibilities to extend two-way communication. Social media is, at its core, an environment for engaging dialogue – with all its humor, frustration and inquisition included.
Case in point, when people opened their bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter “trees” in December, some found them less than “tree-like,” resulting in a social media-based public outcry highlighting a manufacturing “deficiency” in the popular Hershey brand’s holiday design. Tree-eaters took to social media suggesting that “Reese’s trees don’t even look like trees,” and “I don’t think this is a Christmas tree – I’m not sure what it looks like.”
On any other day, Hershey’s could have easily seen this overreaction to a manufacturing miss as a public relations crisis. But it didn’t. Rather than panic, the company instead leveraged an engaged social media following with positive self-talk through its #AllTreesAreBeautiful campaign.
Photos and mock-ups began making the rounds across the Twittersphere and other realms alongside responses from Hershey’s including, “It’s not what it looks like, it’s what it tastes like that counts,” and “If you keep staring at it, we swear it will start to look like a tree. Or, you could just eat it.” Hershey’s again got nicked up when delivering their Valentine’s hearts design in February. Now planning towards Spring, Hershey’s crack social media team has dovetailed the hyped focus of Reese’s peanut butter shaped designs further by adding new hashtags and visual campaigns #bornthisgood.
Hershey’s keen and clever responses turned a potentially damaging backlash into a fruitful fan-based following of increased support and fandom, proving that by managing social media in a basic two-way communication model, positive things can happen. First, you listen; then, you cleverly respond. Social media isn’t as ominous as one may presume; yet consistency in response, message and tone are still important. A quick review of Reese’s Twitter page highlights a perfect peppering of not only sales-focused marketing, but also a lot of prompt, courteous, supportive, clever and downright funny responses. And Hershey’s/Reese’s is not alone. In fact, every business has an opportunity to garner greater engagement using its own brand of clever. Here are a few ideas:
Photo bomb. Every business maintains an opportunity to creatively post visuals (true photos, clipart, mock-ups, etc.). Take, for example, subscription boxes. Whether Birchbox or Citrus Lane, Graze or Club W’s wine delivery, these businesses could easily use piles of shipping labels or mountains of shredded paper to showcase the unique process of building subscription boxes. The visual effort takes followers behind closed doors and on a more personal journey, often leading to a stronger bond with customers. Example: a photo of many empty boxes with the hashtag #FillMeUp.
Deliver a well-timed tip. This time of year, the topic of fitness (and getting into shape) is at a profound level of intense interest. Timing can be of the essence, and every business can leverage timing (time of year, season) to creatively share optimal tips. Fitness industry experts can maximize this time of year by seeding optimal tips for “getting your fitness program started” to “eating right” and “exercising in freezing temperatures.” Consider what your public wants from you and dish it in a sassy and useful manner.
Example: add a squat move to your snow-day shovel for an extra burn of 100 calories!
Share a relevant piece of news. Industry news surfaces daily so it’s very easy to locate a worthwhile tidbit to share with fans. Whether pulled from The Wall Street Journal or People magazine, post the news with an opinion or perhaps a detail as to why your business may be in support for or against it.
Are you interested in finding out how to create clever content for your social media strategy? Download Axia Public Relations’ The Essential Social Media Management Guide for tips.
Wendy Bulawa Agudelo has more than 15 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and non-profit public relations. She regularly pens feature articles on parenting topics for Bay State Parent Magazine, serves on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force, is a culinary enthusiast and champion for the special needs community.