Five Things We Learned at Social Media Smackdown #10


April Fools’ has evolved over the years. From simple pranks to brands with big budgets pulling out all the stops, 2016 was no exception: McDonald’s announced they’d be launching a restaurant on the moon. Carlsberg offered to start sending beer deliveries via drone. Pimms even took over the Big Ben, protesting that any hour of the day could be “Pimms O’Clock” (we’re in agreement – April Fools’ or not).

April Fools’ was just one of the subjects covered in our last Social Media Smackdown, supported by Affinio. We heard from We Are Social’s Graham Jenks, Adam Johnson, Director of Marketing at Global Radio, Emma Page, Digital Comms Manager at Audi and Jack Foley, Youth Brand Manager at KFC. Fuelled by breakfast and coffee cup in hand, our audience got ready for the Smackdown’s tenth installment. If you missed it, here are some of the highlights.

1. Play on your audience’s intelligence…
“Is it still possible to fool on April Fools’ anymore – and should we even try?” This was the big question from our very own Graham Jenks. A cleverly executed April Fools’ gag can do wonderful things for a business – give it some humanity, drum up free publicity and even bring in leads. It’s possibly one of the only times where missing a deadline could work in your favour, too – see last year’s example of Domino’s and their pizza delivery drone. The campaign missed the April Fools’ deadline by 6 weeks due to budget restrictions – but that didn’t stop it from gaining over 20 million mentions on Twitter. People didn’t mind it was a hoax outside of the window of April Fools’ – it was authentic, fun and played on the audience’s intelligence.

2. … But remember trust is fragile
Approach with caution, though – the trust between brand and audience plays a huge part in April Fools’, and to have fun at a consumer’s expense can be a very dangerous territory. Greater Manchester Police learned this the hard way, when they decided to tweet that you could vote for inmates to be released from prison. The inmate with the most votes could also supposedly win a holiday. It’s no surprise that this catastrophe of an April Fools ended with an apology – make sure you’re entertaining your audience, not deceiving them.

3. Feed first
As well as teaching us that Classic FM is the most engaged Global Radio channel in the UK (who knew a Barack Obama meme could go down so well?) Global’s Adam Johnson drilled into us that your feed has to come first. “How does it show up on the feed? Is it engaging? Is it standalone?” he asked. “Don’t assume that every person has seen all of the content you’ve been posting out throughout the day – that will not be the case.” Make sure it has legs by itself; otherwise your engagement will dwindle.

4. Listen, learn, shoot
When it comes to clicking on a brand page, it’s a ‘blink-and-you’ve-missed-it’ sort of affair. “You have 1/20th of a second to grab someone’s attention on your site,” says Audi’s Emma Page. This insight led the brand on something of a visual journey – they’d tried using CGI in their posts, but found it cut off too much of the detail. They looked at incorporating their heritage story, but felt they were looking back instead of forward. A/B testing helped guide them towards the right formula: rich photography using authentic locations boosted their engagement rate by 300%. “We learned as a brand what worked by trying and testing different techniques,” Emma explained. “Listen, learn, shoot.”

5. Recognise the expertise of influencers
When KFC launched their 99p VIP campaign last year (where taking a selfie with your street-wise purchase could land you tickets to a VIP gig), Youth Brand Manager Jack Foley soon realized it was missing an overall mechanic. Given the brand’s audience, they wanted to tap into youth trends whilst providing instant gratification. The result? ‘Around the World in 99 Gigs,’ an influencer-lead YouTube series that saw vloggers Callux and Charlotte de Carle seek out the globe’s coolest up and coming music acts. When buying from the street-wise menu this time around, you got an instant promo code for a further offer, as well as a chance to join Callux and Charlotte for one final gig. Free chicken and a chance to get flown around the world? We’re all ears.

Thanks to all that got up bright and early to join us – and please check out our forthcoming events. Hope to see you soon!