How Social Media Works, or What I Learned from a Banana Slicer

by Ken Mueller on December 21, 2012 · 15 comments

How Social Media Really Works, or what I learned from a Banana SlicerThe story you are about to read is true. None of the names have been changed, but a few of the facts might be fuzzy. Nevertheless, this is how social media REALLY works.

December 10, 2012

2:08 p.m. – Final day of teaching my social media marketing class at PCA&D. Two of my students, Patrick & Nick, tell me they have a great viral/Internet link they need to share with me. They forget.

5:17 p.m. – I remember that they forgot, so I post a note on my Facebook wall about it, and tag them in it.

Banana slicer 1

9:24 p.m. – One of the students posts this “viral internet sensation” as a comment. I immediately click on the link and proceed to laugh. A lot.

9:27 p.m. – I repost the link and immediately begin getting likes, comments, and shares. Lots of them.

Banana slicer 2

The link in question is for an item on Amazon known as the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. And what’s more amazing than the fact that this product even exists, are the hundreds of hilarious product reviews that go along with it.

My sharing of the link continues to get comments and likes as much as ten days after I posted it. The engagement I have gotten comes from quite a few states and even a few other countries.

December 16, 2012

5:45 p.m. – Six days after the original posting, my friend Hope sees the link and comments back that she actually has one of these, still in its package, and that she’d like to send it to me. Hope and I met more than a dozen years ago when I was working in NYC, and have since reconnected on Facebook. While I now live in Pennsylvania, she lives in California. (Since I didn’t ask Hope’s permission to user her comment, I took the liberty of obscuring both her last name and her eyes. It adds something to the mystique of this story, don’t you think?)

hope comment

 By the way, check out Hope’s business on Etsy, Vintage Rescue Shop. You might find some cool things on there!

December 17, 2012

7:05 p.m. – I send Hope my address.

December 18, 2012

6:58 p.m. – Hope tells me my package is on the way.

December 20, 2012

12:34 p.m. – The banana slicer arrives! Not the Hutzler 571, but one of the many similar brands that can be found online, although this one doesn’t even have a brand name on it

How Social Media Works, or What I Learned from a Banana Slicer

In just ten days, not  including the years of reviews and whatever else happened before I first became aware of this wonderful item, I went from my first exposure to the project to actually having one shipped to me (for free!) from across the country

This is how social media works.

Compelling content is posted online. People engage with that content and share it. And then the magic happens.

Word of mouth. Online.

Now, what can you and your business learn from this wonderful story of the banana slicer?



Dude those hilarious Amazon reviews are reason #32 that the Internets are Evil Black Holes of Time Suckage aka fun. :-) And yes a great example of how simple social works, though this is just the beginning. The brands need to pay attention and listen to people, find ways to make this WoM work. FWIW and happy holidays to you and yours.


The next step is to contact the banana slicer manufacturer and see if they saw an uptick in sales...


Thanks for sharing this Ken. Now I KNOW what I want for Christmas! Seriously, social media creates all kinds of possibilities and we've only scratched the surface. This is a great little case. 

Eleanor Pierce
Eleanor Pierce

Well, it's certainly an interesting story to dissect. Because in the end, while you talked about the banana slicer, you didn't buy one. You did end up with one, but you didn't pay for it, and it was a different brand. 

Also, the compelling content wasn't posted by the brand, right? It was the reviewers who were creating the compelling content. 

Those are my initial reactions anyway. Do you have a different viewpoint?

KenMueller moderator

@barrettrossie It really does. I may have a bit of a more serious and relevant case study for Monday. And let me know if Santa brings you a banana slicer!

Latest blog post: Banana slicer 1

KenMueller moderator

@EleanorPie No, I didn't buy one. And I wouldn't. It's not something I need. But I did talk about it, and the compelling content was user generated. That's exactly the point. A big part of social media is what happens once we let go of our brands. This product, while ridiculed, has gotten a great reaction, and I'd be willing to bet that because of the low price, they HAVE sold a bunch. Understanding how social media works, in this way, helps us as businesses and brands learn how to better use it.

Latest blog post: Banana slicer 1


  1. […] we need to step away from the numbers. I love analytics, but when it comes to understanding HOW social media really works, I think observation might be helpful. Here are a few recent cases that offer insights into the […]

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