Kellogg recently launched an innovative social media marketing campaign that hopes to leverage the power of social media recommendations by allowing customers to pay for eats with tweets. Kellogg’s Tweet Shop, a pop-up shop in Soho, London, sells the new Special K Cracker Crisps, but consumers don’t have to pay for the snack with cash. Rather, all they have to do is send out a tweet plugging the snack.
(Does anyone else think the word “crisp” is charming and even disarming in its Britishness?)
Here’s how it works: people enter the Tweet shop, and are greeted by Special K girls (donning red dresses similar to the ones we see on the Special K TV commercials, which, on a side note, is a great example of branding consistency). They then choose from one of three Cracker Crisp flavors. They also select from a “Tweet Menu” one of three tweets to send out endorsing the crisps.
Image Courtesy of Fast Company
Like the Cracker Crisps, tweets come in three varieties:
Tweet 1: Guilt-free snacking with new, moreish Special K Cracker Crisps. Only 95 calories per bag #tweetshop #spons
Tweet 2: Special K has gone savory! 3 flavors to try – sea salt and balsamic vinegar, sweet chili, sour cream and chives #tweetshop #spons
Tweet 3: Love new Special K Cracker Crisps- everything you want from a crisp, nothing you don’t #tweetshop #spons
From what I’ve read, it appears that people can also forego the options on the Tweet Menu and craft their own custom tweets mentioning the Cracker Crisps. Kellogg’s campaign inspired me to start thinking all about the ways in which product promotions and peer recommendations function on Twitter.
Let’s talk Special K, social networks, and savory, single-serving-sized snacks.
Plugging a Product via Peer Influence
While on first glance the Kellogg Tweet Shop may seem like the latest marketing stunt, I think the campaign deserves a little more credit. The Kellogg campaign is fun, unique, and engaging, but its pros extend beyond creativity and cleverness. This concept of allowing people to use social currency rather than financial currency shows just how in touch with our social-media-saturated society the brand is. Whether Facebook and Twitter will ultimately silently and slowly decline à la Friendster or MySpace is debatable, but the point is that social media is beyond relevant and also important for brands at the moment. Through Twitter, Kellogg is reaching, appealing, and talking to people through a channel that has become a contemporary culture staple, and the best aspect of this campaign is that endorsements aren’t conveyed via Kellogg; they’re broadcasted by everyday people. The Tweet Shop allows Kellogg to simultaneously tap into the power of peer recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing, both of which are proven to propel sales. I’ve written on this more extensively before, but there’s a wealth of research that reveals that when making purchasing decisions, we turn to the people in our close social networks. We trust recommendations from peers over all other forms of advertising: 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and a word-of-mouth recommendation is the primary recommendation behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
Thus, Kellogg isn’t simply exchanging crisps for tweets; they’re exchanging crisps for trustworthy transmissions. They’re mobilizing an army of Special-K-brand advocates (who are all fueled by individual-serving-sized bags of Cracker Crisps) and galvanizing what researcher Duncan Watts refers to as “the pass-around power of everyday people.” Clearly, they could have chosen another advertising method to promote the new Cracker Crisps: commercials (though, Special K has been there and done that); the traditional Facebook sponsored story; promoted tweets; promoted trends. The problem with social media ads is that only 36% of people trust them. So, if Kellogg wants to promote their new product on social media, how do they overcome the suspicion and skepticism with which people greet these ads? Meld advertisements with peer recommendations! Sure, the tweets on the “Tweet Menu” are explicit, overt, and very sales-pitchy, but I think when people craft spontaneous, customized, and individualized tweets that articulate support for the Kellogg’s campaign, this feels very natural. These tweets are certainly less jarring and more innocuous than traditional social media ads, which often feel discordant on social networking sites. People promoting products suits Twitter (and all social media sites) better than brands promoting products, because this site was created for and by people, not brands.
Crisps and Brits
I’m applauding Kellogg—or rather U.K. ad agency Slice—for constructing and executing this campaign. Launching a product or generating buzz for a product via Twitter certainly isn’t new (a few days ago, for the first time ever, a TV episode premiered on Twitter), but allowing people to pay for things with tweets rather than cash is pioneering. And it seems that the Tweet Shop is the thing to generate the most positive reaction from the people of London since that time Queen Elizabeth and James Bond parachuted out of a helicopter at the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I’ve read numerous tweets featuring the hashtag #tweetshop, and I’ve yet to find a negative one. (WaveMetrix determined that 96% of the buzz around Special K Crisps is positive).
The pop-up Tweet Shop is open for only one more day, and if I could, I’d jet off to London; shop for a Kate Middleton dress at Whistles; munch on some Cracker Crisps; and send out a tweet, one that looks like this: