Here is a photo that spoilt my day recently. It’s a picture of the side of a box of nice crackers I bought, made by a well-known company. The crackers were really unusual, healthy and very tasty. But have a read of the text on the box!
There are so many things about this box of crackers that make me want to cry. Let’s start with the things that bother me as a person who loves food. Why do I have to have my nice cracker with weird things like kimchi that no one actually likes? Why can’t I have it with something normal like cheese? Then there are the missed opportunities for some nice writing. Why are my nose and eyes mentioned but not my taste buds – and if we’re going down the ‘all five senses’ road why am I not being told about the cracker’s satisfying crunchy sound and nice rough texture?
But those problems are overshadowed by the fact that I am being told how to ‘style’ my cracker for extra Instagram likes. I don’t hate food styling – I do like my meals to look nice and I recognise that the way food looks is part of the experience. If it was telling me how to make the cracker look really appealing on a plate I might be OK with that. But instead it’s telling me how best to take a photo of my cracker for Instagram! Not for my enjoyment or my family’s enjoyment, for my health or to make it really tasty. Not even to win a free box of crackers. Nope – just so I can supposedly get some more people to press ‘like’ on my photo of my lunch.
The thing which really annoys me about this is social media can be so great for actually talking to stakeholders directly – whether customers or your community or whoever else you want to reach. It’s a wonderful way of sharing your activities and how you operate. Instead, the cracker box is social media as a tick box exercise. They could have done so much better: “Inspire your fellow cracker fans – show us your favourite toppings on Instagram” plus a useful hashtag. Or: “Visit us on Instagram @XXX to see our trendiest cracker combinations”. Those are both pretty cheesy but then we are talking about crackers. The point is, they could have used this huge bit of cracker-box real estate to try to get people talking about these genuinely nice crackers and how they like to eat them. It might even have worked if they had someone on board who could think about crackers in a really creative way.
It’s just really lazy – the social media equivalent of namedropping (“Hey – we’ve heard of Instagram!”). They don’t even give their Instagram handle on the box so even if you do want to send them a photo of your cracker you have to hunt them out.
There’s a conclusion to this rant. If you’re going to use social media do it because you really want to share things with your community. Of course you want them to buy your products or sign up for your activity, but if you use social media honestly and helpfully, they will see why they should put their trust in you. Otherwise they’ll just think you’re, well, crackers.