How We Earned Dippin’ Dots More Coverage Than a Super Bowl Ad…Without Spending a Dime on Paid Advertising

To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, the world of social media moves pretty fast. If you don’t seize opportunity as soon as it knocks – or in this case, tweets – you could miss it entirely.

So when the CEO of ice cream company Dippin’ Dots, Scott Fischer, called us asking what to do about negative tweets about the brand from none other than White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, we jumped into action right away.

The payoff was a viral campaign that garnered well over 10 million views, a potential combined total reach of 1.4 billion* , and more than a dozen tier 1 media articles, plus dozens more in smaller publications. By any accounting, that’s a wild success.

Here’s how it all happened, and what your brand can learn from this experience. You can read more about this campaign in MZ CEO Shama Hyder’s column in Forbes.

On Sunday, The A.V. Club, a site run by The Onion, published an article describing how Spicer had been venting his dislike of Dippin’ Dots on Twitter since 2010.

via The A.V. Club

The article picked up traction online, and soon enough, other media outlets picked up the story. Tweets about Sean Spicer and his dislike of Dippin’ Dots were everywhere – in fact, Sean Spicer and Dippin’ Dots were both trending topics across social media.

That’s when Scott called to ask for thoughts on whether Dippin’ Dots should respond, and if they should, how.

While the old PR rules would dictate a simple “ignore and move on” approach, today’s digital landscape requires something different. That’s why we worked with Dippin’ Dots and another partner agency to create a response strategy.

The strategy involved posting an open letter from Scott to Spicer, sharing it across their social media sites. The letter was friendly and simple, aimed at putting an end to the feud and extending an olive branch.

via Dippindots.com

Scott even offered to host an ice cream social at the White House.

This letter quickly went viral, picking up coverage in The New York Times, The Washington Post, AdWeek, NPR, and many other major media outlets. Again, Dippin’ Dots and Sean Spicer were trending topics on Facebook.

Spicer later responded to Dippin’ Dots in a tweet, suggesting doing an event for the military and first responders. Dippin’ Dots wrote back:

via @dippindots

The campaign has been a huge win for Dippin’ Dots, resulting in some spectacular numbers. Their Twitter analytics report shows:

  • A reach of more than 372 million users between Sat. Jan. 21, the day before the A.V. Club article went live, and the morning of Tues. Jan. 25 (the open letter was posted around noon on Monday Jan. 24).
  • 31.3k tweets featuring “dippin dots” or “@dippindots”
  • Mention growth of more than 8,000%

So what can brands learn from this viral success?

Transparency and trust are crucial

In today’s business world, which is so heavily influenced by social media, brands that want to succeed have to drop the opacity that used to govern the way they approached customers.

Consumers today want to know what goes on behind the scenes. They want to see how a company handles a negative review – do they ignore it, pretending it never happened?

Do they lash out?

Or do they address the concern openly, doing their best to make things right?

You can guess pretty easily which response will get your brand the most positive attention.

No response is a response

For brands in the digital age, silence is no longer an option. If Dippin’ Dots hadn’t responded to the A.V. Club’s article, the social media world would still have been abuzz about it – except the voice of the company itself would have been absent.

Companies that ignore what is said about them online are running a huge risk, as they’re giving up a major opportunity to shape the ongoing narrative. And brands today are judged more on their response to a negative review than on the review itself.

You don’t have to be divisive to be effective

There are times when a brand has to choose sides, but often, it’s more effective to focus on bringing people together – especially when a brand serves a diverse audience, like Dippin’ Dots does.

In addition, Dippin’ Dots’ brand is light-hearted, fun-loving, and about bringing people together. That’s why the open letter was an attempt to make friends, and heal the breach. Campaigns have to truly reflect your brand’s values and personality if they’re going to catch on.

Dippin’ Dots serves as an example of how brands can effectively harness the power of the social media ecosystem. The next time your brand gets a negative review, consider carefully how best to respond. You may find you’ve been handed an incredible opportunity.

*Combined total potential reach according to GroupHigh.

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