A Song of Sandwiches and Social

Copywriter Max Dempster knows a thing or two about social media. Before coming aboard at Dunn&Co, Max worked for years as a Content Strategist and Copywriter for a boutique social media agency, building engaging campaigns for brands including Monster Energy, Circle K Stores, The American Red Cross, MTN DEW, Hershey’s, and more. He also wrote this blog, and the sweeping tale of #EarlsSummerOfDiscontent.

There’s a lot of social media work that flows through our agency on a day to day basis. In fact, because of social content’s ephemeral nature, the work of crafting content is literally never done. Whether they’re backed by money or totally organic, posts are gone almost as quickly as they arrived. At that point they end up on a feed that, depending on the platform, may keep people from ever seeing the post again. Instagram? Sure, it’s easy to scroll through an Instagram profile. Twitter? Maybe. Facebook? It is this author’s opinion that Facebook Pages are cluttered hellscapes.  

Mufasa is talking about cluttered, messy Facebook Pages here.

This is why it’s so important to us that we make memorable content, stuff that’s worth seeking out beyond its hour in the Feed, no matter the platform. Part of how we do that is talking through everything social—trends, best practices, and overall value. It keeps us honest.

Recently, while surveying the performance of our content and competitor content, that we noticed something: boring things were getting a lot of engagement.

Posts that, to us, seemed bland and perfunctory, were racking up delicious KPIs. Pictures of potato chips tossed onto tables. Cocktails sitting abandoned at an empty bar. Hipsters holding hands while also holding sandwiches. All complete with vapid, forgettable copy. This was stock photo grade stuff, and it was getting Like upon Like. But why?

We puzzled on it and stumbled upon the hard truth. People are rarely utilizing the most critical portion of their brain while they’re browsing social feeds. We realized that everyone on our team often Liked things for no reason. We were all guilty of carrying out the crime of drive-by engagement: the thoughtless acknowledgement that content existed, and that it had been presented to us. Scroll, double tap, scroll.

That sort of behavior didn’t seem valuable to us or to our clients, so we decided to experiment a little. What if we made the antithesis of what we were seeing get results? What if we could get people to truly engage, think, and offer up a more meaningful Like?

We looked at the best practices. If content was supposed to be short-lived, bite-sized, and overly-simple we were going to make exact opposite. We resolved to make a batch of Instagram posts that presented an involved, long form narrative.

Our client Earl of Sandwich was the perfect candidate for this experiment. We’d already established a fantastical, old world voice for them, and the titular Earl lived a life filled with adventurous, debaucherous tales.

The story came naturally. In a world filled with bland, gluttonous, and unsatisfying food, the Earl’s original Sandwiches reign as champions of delicious, balanced satiation. It only made sense that the Forces of Blandness would seek to oppose the Earl and his creations.

This became the plot of “The Earl’s Summer of Discontent,” a multi-month series of posts with beautiful diorama photos accompanied with narrative copy many times the length of a traditional social post. There was action, violence, romance, loss, and triumph. Most importantly, you had to pay attention. You had to read the entirety of a post, and the ones that came before it, to make any sense of what you were looking at.

To bring #EarlsSummerOfDiscontent to life, we modeled a miniature continent in our studio, complete with hand painted medieval soldiers and sea vessels. Each chapter of our story unfolded in different locations throughout the landscape, and chronicled the Earl’s struggle to repel the invading forces.

In both plot and social engagement, the Earl prevailed. People were engaging at a deeper level. They were messaging and commenting, expressing their investment in seeing the story through to its epic conclusion. To us, even one of these “Passionate Likes” was worth far more than 100 “Passing Likes.” By bringing content that respected the intelligence of users, we were able to engage more of them more deeply than ever before.

To witness the exploits of the Earl, the Barons of Breakfast, the Lady Ham ’N Swiss and more, click here.