everything i learned from being RTed by a banana company

The year was 2012 and I absolutely hated Twitter. And Instagram… and social media for that matter [but my evolution into social marketing is a compelling story for another day].

Twitter and I had beef. If you have the pleasure of knowing me well, you know I would naturally have a hard time keeping what I want to say to under 140 characters. And hashtags? What did they even mean? Even after careful research on how to use a hashtag to join conversations about the newest season of The Bachelor, they seemed useless. After all, no one wanted to talk to me about The Bachelor on Twitter, so – what was I even tweeting for? I decided the only function Twitter was good for was a boatload of interesting player and analyst commentary on Sunday NFL games.

Instagram I disliked too. I mean, at the time Instagram launched, I owned a Blackberry. Someone told me you had to have an iPhone to appreciate Instagram, and I wasn’t ready to leave my keyboard and BBM archive yet. So naturally, no Instagram for me.

But the more I became the go-to person to be setting small businesses up with social pages, the more I forced myself to continue to use social media. It would only make me a more well-round publicist or marketer in the future.

Take the amount that hated social media at the time  and apply it in the opposite direction and you’ll get the overwhelming amount of love I have for bananas. I could and probably did at one point eat a banana a day. So one day, when continuing to plug away at figuring out short tweets, #hashtags and Instagram, I posted a lovely photo of a banana with a BRAIN FUEL sticker with the caption “#ThisIsWhyImSmart, thanks #chiquita”.

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Chiquita – you answered! I think I went around to everyone in my life bragging about being recognized by a banana company.

After developing solid social media strategies for about a dozen clients over the past four years, I always use the Chiquita example to inform client strategies.

1. Connecting with top consumers can keep them loyal. I specifically dig for Chiquita at the grocery store. Not every interaction you have with a consumer is going to make major impressions, but taking the time to even send a simple “thank you for choosing us” can go a long way in creating repeat purchases of someone who was already interested in your product. And the story that I told all my friends about Chiquita? That counts as word-of-mouth marketing. Maybe they won’t go out and buy Chiquita bananas, but they will have heard the name. Simple brand awareness for the cost of a sticker.

2. Brands are human. Chiquita is not a banana. It’s a company made up of people that share the same day-to-day mission of …. bananas. Somewhere (really long ago) someone had the idea to bring bananas to people. And that guy (or girl) – they are Chiquita. They are my homie. They have a special place in my heart.  Consumers sometimes forget that brands are people. But social media gives you the opportunity to remind them that the brand-consumer relationship is not about taking money – it’s about shared interests. Whatever those interests may be, you are connecting with the consumer about something you both care about.

3. You can use offline experiences to generate online conversation. I’m not Chiquita, so I can’t tell you if this was the main goal of the Brain Fuel stickers – but obviously the sticker got my attention enough for me to want to brand myself as a “smart-banana eater” and so – I shared my banana with my social network. Social media publicity really closely aligns with good ole’ PR stunts. Anything a little odd, a little cool, a little edgy that you can create “offline” can make for a really conversation online. And wa-la… you’ve create a trending conversation (other wise known as a #hashtag) and it doesn’t have to cost you a million dollars and a yacht party.