When you know your company's next social media post is going to get trolled, it pays to plan accordingly.
That's the lesson from Groupon's massive success on Facebook last week, when a stellar social response by an in-house team turned the rather dildo-esque Banana Bunker into a gold mine of fan engagement and sales.
The daily deal service's post about a plastic container for fruit protection became its most popular Facebook content ever, with more than 12,000 comments, 18,000 Likes and 43,000 shares.
Groupon replied in earnest to nearly 200 suggestive or sarcastic consumer comments, most of which were jokes riffing on the Banana Bunker's sex-toy-like appearance. A relatively frequent product to be featured by Groupon in recent years, the Banana Bunker has consistently generated some salacious comments, and this time the company decided in advance to get in on the joke.
We caught up with Bill Roberts, head of global communication for Groupon, who heads the in-house social media team, to get the story behind the impressive effort.
Adweek: How many people are on the team behind this?
Bill Roberts, Groupon: We have five people on the team that cover everything from customer service up to strategy. We had three people specifically responding to that post while also answering general customer service issues.
How long did it take to reply to every comment?
We tried our best to reply to every comment. In the end we replied to between 150 and 200. The responses we gave were immediate, so maybe 2 hours total, all in. We didn't brainstorm responses as a group—it was really more about keeping up with the volume of comments that were coming in.
Is it still going? Are you still replying?
It is still going, but the momentum has slowed for this specific post. Overall, we're usually replying to people with this type of humor on most posts. It's a big part of our social engagement strategy.
How many Banana Bunkers were sold?
There were only about 600 available. We sold out before the post even went viral. Given the site traffic, I wish we'd have had thousands. Next time!
Is this the best response Groupon has gotten to a Facebook post?
This is—far and away—the biggest and most positive post in Groupon's history. But we've had some other popular posts. Our play on Amazon's drone delivery—the Groupon catapult—did particularly well, and is another good example of our take on social.
How did you come up with the idea of replying to everyone?
The Banana Bunker is always a hit when we post it. We had a little extra time, and thought it would be funny to play along with people's trolling comments. Then the momentum kept building, and we kept replying.
Does Groupon recruit comedic voices for ideas like this?
Chicago (where Groupon is headquartered) is a city steeped in humor. Groupon has always had its own sense of humor attached to the brand, and everyone on the team embodies it. We try to handle everything ourselves if possible because we're so close to the brand.
How did you guys land on the tone of the responses? Was it more fun to do a dry, sincere-ish reply?
It's very easy to confuse what a Banana Bunker is on first glance, and it would be too obvious to validate that. Instead we wanted to take the innocent approach. Plus, our team is very passionate about the benefits of potassium.