What can we learn from #Sainsbey

Sainsbury’s knocked it out of the shopping trolley with its response to Beyonce’s Adidas x IVY PARK drop last week.

If you haven’t read about it, the short version is that Queen Bey’s new collection looks very similar to the UK supermarket’s instantly recognisable (to those of us in the UK, at least) maroon and orange uniform. Sainsbury’s social media team spotted the chatter and embraced it, posting this:

which, according to Campaign, had “227 million Twitter impressions, 50,000 brand mentions, global news coverage and millions of pounds in Twitter media value.”

Check out the comments, and Sainsbury’s brilliant – and quick – responses to them. 

It’s not what you expect from a brand whose usual tweets focus more on meal recipes, customer queries and new products. And that’s the beauty of it. Its social media team has the freedom to post creatively. 

There are lessons every social media team can learn from this. 

  1. Content calendars are great, but don’t be too rigid about them. Leave some room (and resource) to jump on the back of issues that you never expected. 
  2. Let your team flex their creative muscles. That means having enough flexibility in your social media guidelines to go off script and be imaginative. 
  3. Know your audience. This really captured the public imagination. 
  4. For international companies, listen to your local teams. There may be something that is culturally relevant in one market that a global team in another market just wouldn’t get. 
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. There are some really funny comments about the Sainsbury’s uniform, both past and present, and they’re rolling with it. 
  6. Let your employees have some freedom. Sainsbury’s has done a great job not just of engaging with the public, but also championing its employees who are photographing themselves in the uniform and posting to social media. 
  7. Use social listening effectively to spot unexpected issues and opportunities. 
  8. Move fast. I can’t imagine that anyone at Sainsbury’s could have predicted this scenario, but they did well to respond so quickly. If this had had to go through 27 layers of corporate approval, it wouldn’t have flown. 

Perhaps the most important lesson is: don’t be afraid to try something different. Humour, a creative spark or just a change from the usual style of posts could really set your social media alight.

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