A news story did the social media rounds earlier this year – Why we’re renaming Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread by J Sainsbury plc.

Pop over and read the story. A three-year-old called Lily, with the help of her mother, wrote to Sainsbury’s supermarket suggesting that the markings on their Tiger Bread look more like a giraffe than a tiger.  The response got blogged, liked 150,000 times on Facebook and Tweeted 48,000 times. People started contacting the supermarket supporting the suggestion and…

In response to overwhelming customer feedback that our Tiger Bread has more resemblance to a giraffe, from today we will be changing our Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread and seeing how that goes.

Full marks for using such human language in the announcement above instead of the corporate speak we all too often still see. But at the core of this story is the individual nature of the response written to Lily. Had it been a bland statement, I doubt it would have gone viral.

The image below contains the response that Sainsbury’s sent to Lily

From the letter:

I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?

It is called tiger bread because the the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought that it looked like stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.

I really liked reading your letter so I thought I would send you a little present. I’ve put a £3 gift card in with this letter. If you ask your mum or dad to take you to Sainsbury’s you could use it to buy some of your own tiger bread (and maybe if mum and dad say its OK you can get some sweeties too).

What a lovely response. And written directly to Lily, not her parents. You can see why her mom decided to blog about it. I wonder if this was a one off from an excellent customer manager or the approach encouraged by Sainsbury’s? It’s not the only example. Recently, somebody complained about one of Sainsbury’s sandwiches on Twitter:

Another Sainsbury’s Twitter account replied with a phone number to call and an apology

[sorry] you had to wrestle your way through the sandwich.

Much of the debate about social media is focused on the shift in speed and spread of communications thanks to Internet and mobile technologies. A good or bad story can spread virally and the organisation impacted by that story can do little to control it. Enter the corporate social media handbook and analytics tools.

What is rarely acknowledged is that all memorable stories involve individuals who cared enough to do something different. Being able to provide a quick, tailored outcome appropriate to the situation requires a skill. A skill that isn’t sufficiently recognised.  Would I be writing about tiger giraffe bread if Lily had received a standard scripted corporate response?

For social media efforts to be truly valuable for business, you need people who care and enjoy what they are doing. How organisations train and treat their employees matters more than ever. The focus is too often on investing in technology rather than in recruiting the right people.


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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. ..I think it looks more like a tortoise myself ;-|)

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