How Steak-umm Became The Tweeting Voice Of Reason In A Pandemic

from the content-is-advertising dept

Many, many years ago I wrote about the importance of recognizing that content is advertising and advertising is content. A key point I was making was that these were not redundant. Good advertising should be good content to make people happy to see it. But also, any kind of good content can be good advertising for something else. I was reminded of this last week after seeing the Twitter account of Steak-umm suddenly become one of the best Twitter accounts to follow during the pandemic. To be honest, my last experience with Steam-umm, the frozen meat company, probably goes back to watching a commercial like this in 1982:

Those commercials were on all the time when I was a kid, but I don't think I ever got to experience the actual joy (?!?) of eating a Steak-umm. And for that we can blame my parents. However, perhaps I'll now give Steak-umm a shot, since watching its Twitter account actually become "the voice of reason in a pandemic."

It started on April 6th with a pretty damn good tweet thread about not falling for anecdotal reports, and looking for thoughtful, detailed studies:

I mean, even that self-aware final tweet is kind of pitch perfect for this kind of thing. Apparently the person behind all this is Nathan Allebach, who runs a communications shop that manages Steak-umm's feed and decided he'd had enough of all the misinformation he was seeing. According to an interview he gave Fast Company:

“It was more just a cumulative effect of me having a job to spend every moment on social, seeing a constant flow of information, and a lot of it wasn’t good information,” says Nathan Allebach of the agency Allebach Communications, who has been the human behind Steak-Umm’s social media since 2015. Despite the thread being posted at 10 p.m., Allebach says it wasn’t prompted by a specific moment or piece of news. “I know we’re in this state of panic, and heightened cultural anxiety, so people aren’t at their best all the time, thinking about where they’re getting their information.”

He's since followed it up with a few other somewhat philosophical threads on all of this -- including opining on the nature of its own tweets going viral:

Then there was another long thread on the difference between "experts" and "communicators" allowing factual information to be "spun."

And then another long thread about why people believe in conspiracy theories and how to respond to those believers:

It is fantastic content -- whether or not it sells any frozen meat. And even Steak-umm seems to recognize this:

As is pretty much always the case, what's amazing about this and what's catching people's attention is not just the fact that a frozen sliced meat company is tweeting about these things, but that it's doing so earnestly, even while clearly recognizing the absurdity of it being the sudden tweeting fountain of wisdom. But that's actually really important. In a time when cynicism, irony, and just everyday sarcasm seem to be the way plenty of people are dealing with this new incredibly uncertain age, having a bit of calm (if slightly tongue-in-cheek) earnestness is truly welcome. And if it helps sell more frozen meat, why, that would probably be a nice side benefit for the company.

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Filed Under: advertising is content, content is advertising, covid-19, frozen meat, nathan allebach, native content, steak-umm
Companies: allebach communications, steak-umm, twitter


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  1. icon
    urza9814 (profile), 13 Apr 2020 @ 8:11pm

    Re: might just have to try some of that...

    "how come schools don't teach 'critical thinking'?"

    Well, they're supposed to. I remember that being an EXTREMELY popular buzzword when I was in school. But that's basically all it was. Although I guess I'm not sure that I remember it ever being taught on its own really, just vague statements when some kid would ask what that meant when instructed to "think critically" when analyzing a sonnet or something. Not too sure the teachers get it either.... but the words surely appeared on all of the state-mandated standardized testing!

    If I were a bit more cynical I might suggest that nobody understanding what those words really mean is intentional...throw the term at kids when they're too young to really get it, so instead they attach to it some false/partial definition of whatever got them through the test -- so something like just explaining in greater detail. Later in life, when they are asked to think critically about something, they'll end up doing that instead.


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