Keys to Social Success

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While there are no precise blueprints to a successful viral marketing campaign, there are some common principles to guide you to a long and prosperous adventure in social media — and originality and practicality are key.

The best example came from the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge. In the summer of 2014, people living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig disease) raised awareness of the condition by having people all over the world dump buckets of ice water over their heads and post the video, with “each person challenging the next” as the dominant theme. The results were overwhelming: 17 million videos from 159 countries — including ones created by high-profile participants such as Will Smith, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg — generated 70 billion video views and raised $220 million. The campaign cost nothing to promote and 440 million people saw it.

Adweek reports that Toronto-based brand strategy consulting firm Millward Brown polled more than 13,500 multiscreen viewers — people who own both a TV and either a smartphone or tablet — in 42 countries to determine their engagement with video advertising. The primary discovery: an average consumer (16 to 45) takes in 204 minutes of video a day, split equally between TV and online. So what does that mean for restaurant operators and how can they cash in on the new social generation? Brands have to talk to, and with, their customers, maintain and build dialogue whenever possible. Learning to go beyond traditional norms associated with corporate communications will pave the path toward social-media success. Then, have some fun with it; create and listen for updates on how your brand is doing. Here are some examples of foodservice players who have embraced social media in innovative — and profitable — ways.

Cheap, Cheap
Sometimes the most effective campaign is the simplest. A U.K.-based pizza chain recently challenged its audience to #letsdolunch and rewarded them for using the hashtag between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on a particular day by dropping the price of a large pepperoni pizza with each tweet. The response to the Twitter campaign was swift and effective and a $15.95 pizza sold for $7.74.

Playing Favourites
The Denver, Colo.–based Qdoba Mexican Eats chain ran the Quesobliss Showdown, a contest that asked customers to vote for a particular flavour of the product. The difference? Twitter blasts announcing current “results” in real-time kept the contest top-of-mind for days, encouraging them to vote often for their favourite while proving that the brand was actually listening to its customers.

The Funny Bone
Sam Adams beer ran a sly April Fool’s video commercial in which the company’s founder Jim Cook, introduces a new version of the beer featuring the new ingredient, heli-YUM. In it, Cook pours a glass, takes a sip and his voice begins to take on the funny helium gas quality we associate with balloon accidents. Only the most gullible beer drinkers fell victim to the April Fool’s joke and at the time of writing this piece, the commercial had amassed more than 1.3 million views on YouTube. Yes, social media can be funny, especially when you sound like Donald Duck.

Stratospheric Fame
Beginning in 2006, Frito-Lay invited millions of football fans to Crash the Super Bowl by creating their own Doritos ads. The winning fan-created ad would run during the big game. In later years, Doritos has offered bonus prizes ranging from $400,000 to $1 million. As a result, 36,000 entries have been received in the last decade. That’s a lot of engagement and penetration into communities.

Volume 49, Number 3

Written By Sebastian Fuschini is VP of Franchising for Pizza Pizza Ltd.

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