There was a little Twitter tsunami today… Suddenly and without warning a gaggle of NZ Twitterers regaled us all with 140-character endorsements for the brand new My Food Bag service.
— KATE HAWKESBY (@KATEHAWKESBY) March 11, 2013
— Jay-Jay Feeney (@JJFeeney) March 11, 2013
— Sara Tetro (@sara_mail) March 10, 2013
It seemed a lot of influential people got some free meals and wanted to tell us all about it. However, not everyone was happy with the meal announcements, and some took a very negative view of the campaign.
Thing is with the My FoodBag tweets – aren’t they meant to be afixed with a #ad – so punters know what;s happening. Or is this different?
— John Drinnan (@Zagzigger) March 11, 2013
— Sara Barham (@sarabeee) March 11, 2013
So is it an #ad? I don’t think so.
Once upon a time I worked in PR – in a time before Twitter. The concept of PR is closely tied to the idea that word of mouth is the best advertising, but since it is impractical to actually get lots of individuals to talk about your product (less so now with social media) you instead try to get people with an audience to talk about your product. This is typically journalists or personalities. You give them stuff and hope it all works out. The trick is finding the right people for a given product. Giving someone a product totally unsuited to them isn’t going to generate any good publicity, and it could possibly have the opposite effect.
Now, with Twitter and Facebook, word of mouth is MUCH more accessible – instead of 10 or 20 people each with an audience in the tens of thousands with magazines and TV we have hundreds of people each with a much more interactive audience often in the low thousands. But they are people who interact with their audience about all sorts of things and they often do it compulsively.
If you give those people a product they like they are very likely to tweet and Facebook about it, just as they do about the warrant of fitness and sore feet. They share the things that happen to them, and a free thing that interests them is definitely going to cross that threshold.
Back to the beginning – is it an #ad? I don’t think so – I’m assuming no one was paid to tweet, and I’d be highly surprised if posting to Twitter or Facebook was somehow required for these people to receive their Food Bag. Instead it was the natural result of mixing social media extroverts with a new thing. Should those people have disclosed that they were receiving something for free? Maybe, but I’m not convinced. It was certainly clear from many of the tweets that these people were being given a trial of the product.
In fact, the only failure I see in the campaign by Pead PR at all is that there was a small onslaught of tweets about the same topic all at once – it was enough to create an instinctive negative response in some people. Of course this was probably unavoidable and I doubt it was intended that way. These types of launches tend to be an all-at-once thing – and if you send ingredients and a recipe for dinner to a bunch of Twitter addicts all at once then there’s a very good chance they’re all going to tweet about their special dinner all at once.