I am really, really sorry for treating you with the same visual of Sainsbury's customer service letter you have probably seen already all over your Facebook stream, but there is one side of this entire viral that is rather relevant to what I do when working with brands and individuals. But let's start with the story itself. On the 18th of January Parker Lim posted following update on Facebook:
As you can see it was received with great response both in likes, as well as in shares (stats above are from tonight) despite of the fact that story itself dates back from June 2011. It was pretty difficult to not to notice this new wave of the "giraffe bread" story on Facebook, specially if you are friends with UK's leading social media marketers - you might have seen me complaining about the new Facebook algorithm already. I had to try really hard and ignore this message popping up in so many streams of my friends, once again feeling like I am lacking air. I must admit that I have shared it myself! I have always wondered what this type of bread has to do with tigers, so I used it as my mental note for my son next time he asks;) Tonight however my RSS reader has flagged up an interesting blog post written by Lolly on her personal research around the viral - really worth a read! I see that press picked it up and mummy bloggers start to talk about it too, so we can expect more conversations around it. So we can say that at least UK web is "buzzing".
Why is it relevant to me? Well, first thing I do when I see a new viral related to a brand is to go to their official social spaces and check what the brand representatives are doing. From what I can see Sainsbury's official Facebook fan page (probably most relevant social channel for this particular viral) is full of reactions from fans but has no official response to the viral whatsoever since quite a long time - if you consider the volume of conversations on their site. If you do scroll down and check updates posted by fans to this page you will find at least 5 mentionings of "tiger bread" visual with very positive feedback towards the brand itself.
But not a single reaction from the page administrators? Why? Do they not think it's relevant to respond to positive feedback? As a Facebook user I feel that it's not polite - I would expect at least a thank you! And some kind of engagement idea to build on this increasingly conversational topic! I have also found one update which is used to potentially initiate negative discussions and really, really should be addressed immediately (in private channels+ followed up by statement on the fan page asap!).
Despite of increasing amount of on-line reactions to this visual showcasing great PR story for Sainsbury's their on-line representatives do not use it as an opportunity and seem to be unaware of potential brand crisis in the making! I start to think they might not be aware of it! Only if I bother to look around the web a bit more do I spot that there seems to be a reaction on the level of actual stores - at least in my area. I have found two posts mentioning that tiger bread has been renamed to giraffe bread - on a Facebook fan page created back in June 2011 to promote this great customer service reaction and on a forum. There is also a new fan page on Facebook advocating renaming of the product pretty seriously and even though really young already now picking up press reactions.
I am sad to see this great opportunity (so far) waisted by social media team of Sainsbury's. With few Twitter accounts and really robust Facebook fan page I would expect them to be more responsive and pro-active. I see that last official update was made on Friday but social media channels do not adhere to working hours! You need to engage - first of all listen, then just shortly after response and start conversing. You need to foresee potential issues - it's a strong viral and if you do not make the most of it now it might actually turn against you! So respond and curate those conversations because one of your great employees has initiated great story and the social web has just brought it back to life in front of our eyes but you guys are not there. We should have learned about the renamed bread from your official Facebook page, from your official update.
I know that adapting social media for large organisations can be a challenge and that we are learning. I am sure many of us will use this particular situation as one of those case studies too. I just hope that in this case the brand will react, evaluate and improve. As soon as possible.