Written by Emma Vetriano • Published 12th April 2012

Since launching in 2006, Twitter has stormed the social networking sphere, rapidly gaining worldwide popularity, with over 140 million active users as of the beginning of 2012. Some have dubbed Twitter, a replacement of Facebook, referring to it as the SMS of the Internet – but what can it do for brands and digital PR?

In my opinion, for brands like Greggs, it can do wonders! Demonstrated recently when the brand became a trending topic on Twitter – not once but twice!

In the digital world, a trend means much more than a piece of coverage. A trend on Twitter means that potentially 140 million active users are talking and sharing their thoughts about you. When ‘Greggs’ began to trend, the brand were quick to act, seizing the bull by the horns and using it to their full advantage.

The Twitter frenzy began after Labour Leader Ed Miliband was photographed outside a Gregg’s store as the row about ‘pie tax’ began to heat up. Greggs cleverly took advantage of the news story and began to send out updates with the hashtag #pieshakespeare, encouraging Twitter users to come up with a line of poetry about pies. This takeover resulted in a huge increase in followers for the bakery.

There is a serious note behind the pie puns. The story began when George Osborne closed a tax loophole that meant hot food would be subject to VAT, wiping 30m off of Gregg’s value share. The move has since been dubbed the ‘pie tax’, and has given Greggs a much-needed boost both on and offline.

This is a fine example of a brand acting on impulse and being in a position to take advantage of a good news story on Twitter when the opportunity arises.

The team behind the @GreggstheBakers Twitter feed were quick to act and quick to respond to incoming tweets, which is just what a brand should be doing. Through their fast actions and pie puns, they managed to maintain their rare trend and even had a little fun with it, generating positive sentiment for themselves. A great example of digital PR!

They even managed to catch the eye of former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott!