Social stories: Shippam’s paste

5 minute read

You may have heard about Shippam’s Paste, a Twitter story unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time. @Shippamspaste has been on my radar for a few weeks now, and while I had other social stories in the pipeline, today their story has escalated into something quite interesting indeed. In fact as I write this #paste is the second highest trending topic in London, and that’s not bad for a company that started in the 18th Century!

How did it all begin?

On Thursday 13th October my colleagues and I came across the delightfully funny @shippamspaste and unsure if it was a joke or not, we quickly followed.  The page told the story of ‘Ben’, an intern at Princes Group/Shippam’s Paste, who was keen to help followers engage with their brand. He told us of his boss Paul, how you could enjoy paste and how he spent his weekends. Real or not you couldn’t help but laugh at the tweets, the appalling grammar and the lack of understanding about how social media works (oh, the irony).

#Paste goes viral

As time went on it was very obviously a fake account but it didn’t matter, the page continued to grow and attract attention. We couldn’t help but laugh at tweets such as “why not try beef spread on toast as a delicious start to your day”.

We were impressed enough to see it at 2,000 followers before it quickly jumped to 8,000 – this account had captured the imagination of some users on Twitter. It cleverly added some humour to, let’s face it, a pretty dull brand. It even encouraged one of my colleagues to look for and purchase it in our local supermarket. Talk about increasing brand awareness!

What went wrong?

This morning (4th November 2011) @shippamspaste was no more. I was their 6th follower and three weeks later at over 8,000 the account was suspended. A search of Twitter highlighted how popular this account had become, and people were obviously saddened to see it go (including some of the Sign-Up.to team). While there’s no official word, it would appear that the account was pulled for being an impersonation on a trademarked name.

What happened next was an interesting twist, Princes Group created (what we believe to be) an official Shippam’s Paste Twitter account (@Shippamsofficia. No, really). They painfully demonstrated a clear misunderstanding of the situation, filling their page with some awfully impersonal and corporate tweets before deleting the account all together. The #paste bubble had officially burst.

What can we learn from Princes Group?

While I can understand the need to protect a brand, Princes Group have perhaps mishandled the situation; their social media presence was covered and loveable, even if it was unconventional. My colleagues and I didn’t start following @shippamspaste because we like crab paste, we followed it because it was funny and painted a picture of a young intern in an old fashioned company trying to spark a bit of life into their brand. Twitter doesn’t always have to be serious (for any company), it can be funny and it can show personality about the people behind the brand. Yes the account was fake but wouldn’t it have been nice if it was real? If the young intern really was stuck in this improbable situation and spent his days coming up with ideas about how to enjoy different pastes on toast? I for one am sad to see it go, and amazed to see the reaction it’s generated. All publicity is good publicity, right?

Were you a @shippamspaste follower? Are you as sad as us to see it go? Get in touch in the comments box below, we’d love to hear from you! #paste