This blog post isn’t about food, but I couldn’t really think of anywhere else to put it. So, yeah, sorry about that. While you’re here, can I interest you in some muffnuts?
Last Friday morning I was going through my usual work routine of sitting at my desk shoving toast and peanut butter into my mouth while looking at the internet. While perusing the Guardian website I noticed something mildly amusing. “Ha!” I thought, “it looks like the pope and a bear are waving at each other on the homepage!” Being possessed of a rather childish sense of humour and with my thoughts clouded by a mild hangover, I decided to take a screengrab of it and tweet it. After all, everyone likes a cute picture juxtaposition – plus, furry animals and the Bishop of Rome are both meme fuel.
My initial tweet was retweeted by my friends and various Twitter followers. Then their followers. And then their followers. And then their followers (you can see where this is heading). Within an hour it has been retweeted over 500 times. It was also picked up on by Twitter heavyweights including the Guardian, Guardian US, Graham Linehan, Russell Brand, Wil Wheaton, Boing Boing and The Poke among many MANY others. As of 11am today, it has been retweeted over 7,846 times, favourited 4,006 times and netted me 300 new followers (who will probably all unfollow me when they realise that my main topics of conversation are music, what I’m having for dinner, bad jokes and Manchester City FC). While the response was mostly positive, I did had someone tweet me to ask me who the Pope was, another person who tweeted ‘KILL ALL RELIGION’ at me, and another person who called me ‘an idiot’. (Harsh, but fair.) At one point on Friday, I briefly had to switch my phone off as it was threatening to melt from the vast numbers of ’shit in the woods’ jokes I was getting (Estimated total? More than you could shake a mucky stick at).
In my day job as a Community Manager for a large digital agency I’m constantly talking about reach and engagement as well as looking at how to create messages that can really connect with a community. While I wouldn’t (always) advocate using a picture of a cute animal as a way of attaining this, there is something to be said for the importance of keeping it simple. Often the most effective messages online are those that make the user smile and which they can quickly respond to and pass on to their own networks. Sometimes these can be important – like a news headline or a pithy political slogan – other times it can be something as simple as a picture of a bear and the Pope waving at each other. The more you overcomplicate your message, the less likely people are to respond to it.
I’ll admit, while I always wanted to be remembered for my writing when I died, I’d hoped for something more substantial than pointing out a silly image in less than 140 characters. But hey, it’s the 21st century and, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, perhaps nowadays everyone’s famous for 15 retweets. So thanks Pope and thanks bear; my invoice is in the post.