For companies, judging a social media trend and jumping on the bandwagon for dramatic, promotional effect is difficult.
Miss time your carefully crafted campaign and you risk being seen as having your finger decidedly off the pulse whilst a message which doesn’t quite capture the mood and humour of the trend you’re impersonating is more likely to attract the contempt of witty, hip social media users and massively backfire.
Get it right and you could be onto a winner.
The ‘Be like Bill’ meme has peaked with the sharing of matchstick men and accompanying message always ending ‘Bill is smart. Be like Bill (or Jill, etc)’ being decidedly last month. Trends move on very quickly online. Be Like Bill is a momentary internet sensation that has been and gone in a blink of an eye.
If you act quickly and decisively your company can ride the crest of the internet wave receiving some much desired publicity. The risk, if you get it wrong, is to be dashed against the rocks. Timing and tone is everything if you are going to cash in on the hype.
Be Like Bill was amusing for a few weeks in January. But then the Runnymede Hotel in leafy Surrey popped up and came to my attention in February. The hotel erected its own homage to the Bill meme and it caught the eye of some local residents who shared its sign. Did they miss the wave?
‘This is King John
King John chose Runnymede to meet the barons in 1215
Be like King John
Choose the Runnymede for your next important meeting’
They are slightly behind the trend, although it could have been up for some time. Did they correctly judge the social media mood?
I thought it was clever, amusing and timely enough.
There has been somewhat of a backlash to the Bill phenomenon that he is arrogant and narcissistic imposing his ‘views’ on the rest of us. However, Bill has his own Facebook page with some 1.25 million likes so he does have his fans. Bill even has national personas, he’s Jose in Spanish, for example, so his influence is global.
Given that many of Bill’s ‘be smart’ messages are aimed at social media users who insist on posting pictures of their dinner or giving us weather reports not to mention all that nauseating ‘advice’, it’s not surprising these hardcore Facebook users have taken offence.
Since Bill has graced our screens, there have been several other versions, a bit like the coke ‘friends’ bottles, keep looking and eventually you’ll find one sporting your name or one of your friends very helpfully finds it on your behalf, like this one (even though I don’t like ‘Debs’, just for the record, I do like the message).
In the meantime, women or rather mothers have commandeered the trend. Be like Deborah tells us how parenting really is, from feeding your little darlings chicken nuggets to losing your rag. Be smart. Be like Deborah.
Bill may have been viewed by many as the most annoying meme in January and Facebook may have been glad to see the back of him, but hats or rather crowns off to the Runnymede Hotel and their great sense of humour. I do hope local businesspeople are smart. Be like King John.