honey maid 1991

What Honey Maid probably looked like when I was a kid.

When I was very young, probably about three or four, my Papa (my mom’s dad) would make me “Graham Crackers and Milk.” That’s literally all it was — just graham crackers, placed in a bowl with milk poured over them — and it was, and still is, delicious. Papa didn’t use just any graham crackers, he used Honey Maid graham crackers. A fact that was burned into the back of my brain for some reason, but one that I didn’t really think much of — until recently.

About three months ago, Honey Maid released its “This is Wholesome” commercial, which features a gay couple and their family, a tattooed dad and his family and an African-American family with a military veteran dad. Most commenters on Facebook and Twitter who had vitriol to spew focused it on the two dads and their two boys featured in the commercial. (Watch it below.)

I’m not going to talk about the content of the negative comments. That is another discussion for a non-social media strategy-focused blog. However, I would like to analyze what Honey Maid did with those negative comments.

Most social media/community editors and managers out there would agree with me in saying that when negative comments comments come rolling in on the social media page you’re managing, it can be very discouraging. When most folks are composing these negative comments directed to a brand/business page, they are probably not thinking that another human being is reading their comments. I’ve noticed on a lot of brand pages, negative comments are either responded to one by one or not at all.

Honey Maid could have done that, and it would have been fine. But they took their response to negative comments a step further and created another piece of viral content in the process. A month after the “This is Wholesome” commercial release, two artists commissioned by the graham cracker giant used the negative comments, buttressed by the positive comments, in a pretty neat art project. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but if you haven’t, take a look.

As the social media frenzy over the #ThisIsWholesome campaign and Honey Maid’s subsequent “Love” response was happening two months ago, I was taken back to my first experience with Honey Maid as a kid.  My organic nostalgia sprung up as a result of the way Honey Maid first listened, then responded, on social media. The one-two punch of “This is Wholesome” and “Love” made me realize how long this brand has been a part of my life and it wasn’t because they were self-promotion-y about it. They created a moment.

This is an important lesson for all of us who are trying to manage a social community, that sometimes it’s OK to take a beat and really think about how to respond properly. We don’t want to ignore people, but we also want to respond constructively and Honey Maid did that, literally and figuratively.