Let’s start at the beginning… A few weeks back a Twitter feed appeared, purporting to belong to Shippam’s Pastes, and manned by ‘Ben’, an ‘executive social media intern’. Being new to the world of social media, he was quite honest about his intentions and shortcomings:
The Tweets led many to question who was behind the account. Was it a hoax? A genuine attempt at ‘engagement’ from a naive intern? Or a stroke of marketing genius from a largely forgotten brand (à la Old Spice…)? As the Guardian revealed over the weekend, it was indeed a hoax. The man behind the account explained, “faking a spectacularly inept attempt to ‘do Twitter’ just seemed funny – as did picking a real, but nearly forgotten, brand to do it. A large part of it was also simply wanting to see what happened.”
Funny is certainly how the feed was perceived, picking up over 9,000 followers before it was closed down. We learnt of Ben’s nights out in Wetherspoons, and his failures in seducing the local chip shop girl, as well as admirable attempts to help us consumers engage with fish paste, of course:
Having seen so many corporate failures on Twitter, as the author remarked, “A company attempting to get involved with an internet ‘thing’ like Twitter and cocking it up entirely is also completely believable.”
The feed played on the idea of ‘engagement’ being seen as the holy grail of ‘doing’ social media and ensuring the whole thing is ‘fun’. In reality though, the feed had very little engagement, being largely a broadcast of disparate thoughts and product references. It broke all the best practice social media ‘rules’, and yet was a great success.
So what can we learn from this? Largely a reminder of the old mantra that content and creativity are key, and even more so in social media, where everyone’s fighting for our attention. Ironically, given the account was fake, original ideas such as this is what brands should be doing. Content which is genuinely engaging and disruptive will attract our attention and make us click ‘follow’ (as the success of the Waterstones Piccadilly feed testifies, as well as our old friend, the insurance quote comparing meerkat).
We must not of course forget that this account was not authorised by the brand, Shippam’s. I would, however, be very interested to see their web analytics for the past few weeks, and also to see if there’s been any rise in sales. If I ever feel like a ‘batenberg sandwich of the sea’, I certainly know where I’ll be heading.