Social media can be the Wild West for operators trying to lasso buzz and increase engagement with consumers. These chains were able to spin the platforms to their advantage, from offering a refreshing take on a yearly calendar event to making social a major component of a new product rollout.
1. KFC’s offers up a steamy fantasy this Mother’s Day
KFC is offering mom something a bit more hot and fresh for Mother’s Day with the release of "Tender Wings of Desire," a steamy romance novel starring Colonel Sanders. The creative campaign promotes its $20 Fill Up deal just in time for the holiday.
It’s an edgier riff compared to most Mother’s Day promotions, and fans are having a lot of fun with the cheeky marketing on social media. KFC is maintaining the push-the-envelope tone on its Facebook page, responding to PG-13 comments (sometimes verging on the edge of R-rated) with comebacks like, “You bring a flush to this Colonel’s sheet.”
The brand is offering the 96-page book, written by a historical fantasy author and former feature writer for the women's site Bustle.com, as a free download on Amazon. It will reward select fans on Facebook with a hardcover copy, where a video to promote the novel has gotten over 500 shares (and over 700 retweets on Twitter). The video features a greased-up hunk seductively reading from the novel, and a framed picture of a $20 Fill Up meal sits beside him. And yes—spoiler alert—the Colonel delivers in this fictitious tale.
2. Domino’s Tracker app introduces new tech-savvy features
Domino’s continues to forge ahead in the brave new tech world with an online service that lets users create multiple connections with their various digital devices. A certain action (such as ordering from Domino’s) in one device can trigger a response in other devices (like playing a song when your pizza is put in the oven at Domino’s). The new features play off Domino's popular Tracker gizmo, which allows customers to monitor the status of their order as it's being prepared.
There are currently 11 triggers, and although customers might not use them, the new capabilities along with the opt-in are believed to be firsts for the restaurant industry. Domino’s launched the new feature as a partnership, after Burger King landed in hot water recently over another trigger marketing idea that fell flat.
3. A smaller operator lands big star power
Big Star Sandwich in New Westminster, B.C., rolled the dice with some quick social media thinking, and it landed the two-location brand a celebrity endorsement of sorts. After finding out beloved actor Liam Neeson was filming nearby, the restaurant posted a photo of its outdoor sandwich board, which invited the "Taken" actor to stop by and eat for free. Neeson actually showed up and snapped a photo with employees in front of the sign, which the brand then posted on its social media channels.
The photo with Neeson has been shared internationally, from People magazine to TMZ. It has over 500 shares on Big Star's Facebook page, where previous posts were garnering only double-digit shares, and over 4,500 likes on Instagram, compared to its average modest amount of 100 or less.
To ride out the media wave, the shop created a special sandwich named after Neeson, and already other operators are copying with similar ideas.
4. Einstein Bros gives caffeine bagel rollout a jolt
To roll out its new Boosted Bagel line, which includes an Espresso Buzz bagel packing 32 milligrams of caffeine, Einstein Bros. is supporting a cause while encouraging diners to give the new options a try.
For National Nurses Week, Einstein is running a social media campaign tied to the hashtag #NurseTheBuzzSweepstakes and a dedicated site, NurseTheBuzz.com. Consumers call out their favorite nurses and thank them on Instagram or Twitter, with their post being featured on the campaign page. In return, Einstein is giving each eligible submission a coupon for a free Boosted Bagel and shmear with a purchase. Ten entrants will receive a free bagel and shmear per week for a year. And nurses who stop in on May 11 receive a free bagel as well, giving java to a job known for long hours in need of a coffee break.