Facebook users recently “exiled” rapper Pitbull to one of America’s most remote areas – and they did it on the Sheets Energy Strips brand’s dime. Sheets, a Listerine-like dissolvable strip sold in Walmart, struck a deal with Pitbull in June. Pitbull agreed to appear and perform in whichever U.S. Walmart received the most Facebook likes by July 15.
But it turned out Sheets’ Facebook fans might not have been the biggest fans of Pitbull. A few weeks before the deadline, the #ExilePitbull hashtag began trending on Twitter as voters decided to send the rapper to the “most remote” Walmart located in Kodiak, Ala.
The Kodiak Walmart ultimately won out with more than 70,000 likes. True to Walmart’s word, the location hosted a July 30 Pitbull concert.
It’s a good reminder of the impact a few influencers can have on social media campaigns. It’s also a good lesson on how to communicate via social media, especially when things don’t go as planned.
This could have been a major flop for Sheets Energy Strips. They received lots of media coverage from Mashable and Hollywood Reporter about the unexpected turn of the events in the contest. But the topic of conversation hasn’t been, “Look at this social media fail by Sheets Energy Strips.” Instead, it’s been, “Look at how Facebook users are interacting with these brands in an interesting way.”
Pitbull, the town of Kodiak and Walmart all played along fabulously. Instead of trying to shut down the contest, change the conversation or respond with silence, all three parties responded with humor and grace.
Kodiak residents embraced their 15 minutes of fame and actively campaigned for the honor. Pitbull joked about it on Twitter. And the giant discount retailer came out of the campaign looking like an advocate for one of its smallest stores.
This may not be exactly the social media strategy that Sheets Energy Strips had in mind. But they’ve gotten way more coverage and public goodwill than they ever would have had the contest gone as expected. It just took a real response and a little sense of humor.