Is there such a thing as too much publicity? In the age of social media, we’re programmed to share information and experiences in real-time – anything from celebrity encounters, to world travels, to baby’s first steps, to DIY projects. Whether it’s good or bad, news travels fast; and it travels even faster on online. For brands and businesses, just one tweet or Facebook post can boost a fan following, generate mass awareness, and ultimately grow business. But if said business is not adequately prepared for such a response, it can become too overwhelming and risky.
Case in point, the recent Rainbow Bagel apocalypse. The Bagel Store, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had been around for many years and were known for their signature rainbow bagels, New York’s classic breakfast food but dyed a variety of beautiful colors. They were a place for neighborhood locals to come and enjoy a New York bagel with a twist. It wasn’t until an online video highlighting the distinct rainbow bagels went viral, that really put The Bagel Store on the map. Not only did New York residents, who were not familiar with the shop initially, immediately flock to the shop, but visitors from other States and even countries made it a point to visit the shop. The result – long lines, a shortage of bagels, and the owner having to close their doors for a few days to regroup and determine a game plan. They obviously were not prepared to accommodate the influx of people that were coming through the doors so rapidly.
There was also a story recently of a man who walked into Whitbie’s Fish & Chips restaurant in his neighborhood and noticed the place was empty. When asked, the owner noted that he’d been struggling to get customers in the door. Seeing how the owner took care of the place and how good the food was, the man took to Facebook and posted a message to his network, letting people know of this restaurant and urged them to try it out. Within days the restaurant had a line outside the door. No word yet if this will be another Bagel Store incident, but it just goes to show the power of word-of-mouth via social media. Yet, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Social media feeds on peoples’ natural curiosity and overwhelming need to be part the new trend. All it takes is a handful of people to say something is “great,” for others to soon follow. It suggests to others that product is worth is worth trying. But, as with any trend – ahem…the cronut – popularity soon wanes. Either the hype dies-down or the brand isn’t able to keep up. Viral-food videos, especially, are becoming increasingly popular on social media, introducing patrons to various food establishments and experiences.
A lot of mom and pop shops that have been around for years may find social media enticing. And under the pressure to keep their business afloat will resort to leveraging the channel. What they may neglect to realize are the short-term and long-term implications. Rapid-growth is something many businesses and brands want, but are rarely prepared for. Based off the examples above, there’s nothing wrong with social media, viral growth, or exponential word of mouth; just be prepared for you and your product to blow up, and plan accordingly.