What #tweetabix can teach us about branter on social

What #tweetabix can teach us about branter on social

The term ‘branter’ might put you right off your breakfast, but the success of #tweetabix suggests there’s a time and a place for brand to brand humour.

Banter between brands is nothing new. 

From back and forth between fast food giants to sassy replies from supermarkets, there’s no shortage of cheeky brand-to-brand beef on social.

But this month, we may have hit peak #branter. 

Following a post from Weetabix about a controversial breakfast pairing, a social debate was sparked that saw over 150 brands respond to the tweet.

KFC, Nandos, Lidl, Specsavers and even the NHS piled in to deliver their own take on that questionable ‘bix and beans combo. The post was flooded with so many replies, it quickly began trending in the UK. The story went on to make the national press, and saw Piers Morgan try the dish live on air. It was a veritable success for social media managers with many brands racking up 10,000s of likes and the benefit in brand awareness that accompanies them.

While the campaign has been hailed as an example of best-in-class social marketing, it’s also encouraged other brands to try and recreate this success, but failing miserably.

So, now that the wheat dust has settled, here’s what we’ve learned.

Tone and timing are everything

For brands like KFC, Specsavers and Lidl who are already known for their cheeky tone, there’s little risk for joining in. 

However, for brands or public bodies whose day-to-day comms is a little more sober, joining in could result in a backlash. Replies from the Greater Manchester Police and Pfizer left people asking why they were replying to a post about beans.

That’s not to say these brands shouldn’t join in - but there’s a wider context to consider before they do, if it’s a departure from their usual editorial playbook. 

If the potential backlash outweighs the benefits, stand down.

Don’t try to make branter happen

The real genius of the Weetabix post was that they were able to generate huge engagement on an organic post. 

The gross food pairing was enough to draw in the conversation and they were able to sit back and let the responses flood in without forcing it.

In contrast, this month we also saw Marmite come under fire for its failed attempt to encourage some branter on the back of a fantastic OOH execution. Much like real life banter, you can’t engineer this sort of thing - it should feel serendipitous.

Killer community management is key

Weetabix’s community managers added to the fire by dishing out cheeky replies to the best brand responses that had people coming back for days. 

If you’re going to delve into some branter, don’t just drop a post/comment and walk away, be prepared to build on it.

It’s also useful to monitor the evolution of the conversation closely. If you’re fortunate enough to have started something as big as Weetabix did, you’ll need good community management to track how it’s playing out. This could include looking for backlash or red flags, spotting new opportunities to take the conversation further, monitoring consumer feedback and then using all this information to inform your ongoing social and brand strategy.

Don’t prioritise banter over strategy

A viral moment like Weetabix had doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a result of having a robust long-term editorial strategy; building a consistent tone of voice, creating regular content plays, and being responsive to your community. 

Branter can form part of this, and it can be great for awareness and demonstrating a responsive, culturally aware newsroom, but alone it’s not enough to deliver long-term results.

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