From Chipotle to Arby’s, brands are learning how to speak the language of social media—with game-changing results.
Last month, Popeyes and Chick-fil-A went head to head in a viral twitter beef over who had the better chicken sandwich. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the ploy was a bit of social media marketing gone right, with the two brands capitalizing on a viral moment. While it may seem strange for two of the country’s largest QSR brands to be fighting on Twitter, this personalized approach to social media is becoming more and more popular in the foodservice space.
For example, when Pharell showed up to the 2014 Grammy Awards wearing a cartoonishly oversized Vivienne Westwood hat, Arby’s jumped into the conversation, tweeting from the account, “Hey @pharrell, can we have our hat back?” The tweet was one of the first examples of how successful responsive-marketing could be, with Williams playfully replying with, “@Arbys y’all tryna start a roast beef?”
Chipotle is another brand that has realized social media is about more than just advertisements. In addition to the chain’s recent embrace of TikTok, Chipotle’s Twitter has become notoriously funny, especially for a corporate company. Whether it be retweeting memes or sardonic tweets like, “Someone paid for my guac today. Proposal coming soon,” the brand has fully embraced the Gen-Z-facing approach.
“Think like a human; it’s really simple,” Tressie Lieberman, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Chipotle, told QSR. “Occasionally as a brand that might mean you have to shake things up, too, because as humans we evolve.”
Perhaps one of the strongest examples of this approach is Wendy’s 2017 #NuggsforCarter stunt. After a 16-year-old customer tweeted at the burger chain’s account asking for a year of free chicken nuggets, the brand agreed, under one condition—the post had to get 18 million retweets. While the post didn’t quite reach 18 million, it’s 3.5 million retweets is still the platform’s record.
Clearly, social media is proving to be one of the most powerful marketing tools available to franchise brands. With online promotional stunts leading to overwhelming demands and record sales, it is safe to say that all of these “likes” and “favorites” equate to a lot more than just numbers on a screen