Having a piece of content go viral is the dream of every marketer. The thought of having thousands or even millions of people viewing your content is astounding, and it can take your brand to new heights. Weetabix, based here in Northamptonshire, has caused a lot of tizz on Twitter by proposing a new way to serve the breakfast favourite… topped with beans. Giving everyone a masterclass in how to go viral.
Traditionally, the breakfast cereal is served with milk, yoghurt or fruit, but Weetabix’s social media bods have decided to turn things around by suggesting trying the bean-coated wheat biscuits. “Why should bread have all the fun, when there’s Weetabix? Serving up @HeinzUK Beanz on bix for breakfast with a twist,” read the now viral tweet by the brand.
— Weetabix (@weetabix) February 9, 2021
The proposal (of course) triggered some pretty extreme reactions from millions, including major brands such as: Dominoes, Amazon, Youtube, Tinder, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Google. Even the NHS, the British and US embassies and Northamptonshire Police had a take in on the controversial combination. These large brands and many others took the clever step of tagging on this viral post to “ride the wave” of interaction.
“The tweet that should come with a health warning,” the NHS tweeted, while the US Embassy expressed the pairing was not the US-UK “collaboration we were hoping for”. To which the British embassy responded with: “Strong opinion from the nation that makes tea in a microwave.”
Other large companies also joined in the Twitter teasing with Lidl joking: “Babe are u ok? You’ve hardly touched your Weetabix and beans!” and Weetabix responded that they were “just about to tuck in, babes”.
“Even we wouldn’t do this,” joked Innocent drinks. “We’re not monsters!”
Meanwhile, Northamptonshire Police got involved by tweeting:
We have had a few comments from members of the public asking how we are going to respond to this incident.
It is clearly a crime without a doubt but we won't be visiting their headquarters in Burton Latimer just yet as the Crimes Against Breakfast Act doesn't exist…
— Northants Police (@NorthantsPolice) February 9, 2021
We’ve loved reading through the hilarious, witty feed over the past 24 hours. One highlight being Piers Morgan trying it out himself on live television! Ew.
P.s. @susannareid100 is definitely not convinced! 🤣
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) February 10, 2021
But what is it that most viral marketing campaigns have in common?
Although viral messages and content vary widely from company to company, most campaigns share three distinct elements. Marketers should keep this in mind when assessing whether a campaign has the potential to generate serious buzz. Weetabix followed all the below to a tee.
Viral campaigns simply can’t be forced.
In the case of any trend, it is ultimately decided by the audience whether or not something is shared.
Content spreads organically. That’s how viral marketing works.
Often it’s about being in the right place at the right time (or rather, saying the right thing at the right time). You can’t really explain crazes like the “Does pineapple belong on pizza” debate, or certain information that draws the attention of the nation, or even the world – as Weetabix did.
In short, trends come and go.
Although viral marketing campaigns have the potential to make an impression on customers or the public as a whole, people have relatively short attention spans for these types of hot topics and trends.
By the time one trend blows up, we’re often looking for the next craze.
Brands should be wary of trying to repeat another viral campaign or exhaust a popular trend. Just because something’s hot now doesn’t mean it’ll have staying power for years to come. It’s the reason why brands aren’t still parodying “Gangnam Style.”
Although jumping on a trend quickly can be a great marketing move. Prominent brands like Dominoes, Amazon, Youtube, Tinder and Google jumped on the Weetabix trend swiftly to ensure their responses were timely and relevant. Similarly, Weetabix were quick to reply with witty responses to keep the content trending and spreading to an even wider audience.
Bear in mind there’s an inherent risk involved with viral marketing campaigns and tactics.
Going viral means doing something that grabs the attention of the public. That doesn’t happen by accident, nor does it happen by playing it safe. Not all viral marketing campaigns are controversial, but they tend to be out of the norm, like the Heinz and Weetabix Post, which catches people’s attention with something outrageous.
And with that, we uncover the enormous potential downside of viral marketing: going viral for the wrong reasons, which is a whole other story.
Whether your business road the wave of the Weetabix post or you’re hoping to go viral with your own content, our advice is…. Don’t force it, move quickly and be outrageous!