Fast Food Chains are Obsessed with Viral Marketing
By Dwayne Reno
As fast food chains try to close the gap between them and their fast-causal competitors the battle plays out across all major media platforms including Cable TV, Magazines, Newspapers, Internet and yes, social media. Fast food operators have since been seeing online growing consumer engagement with very creative ad campaigns. This week I would like to look at viral marketing campaigns and their recent surge in popularity among fast food operators.
What is Viral Marketing
The growing craze among consumers involves taking a picture of their food and sharing it with others on social media. The goal is for the post to be retweeted or liked by thousands, hundreds of thousands or if you’re lucky millions of consumers.
Since the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter there has always been a push by foodservice operators to go viral. More recently we are seeing new and creative menu items popping up at fast food chain operators in an attempt to reap the benefits of viral marketing. Recently Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino was the talk of social media. The mind-blowing taste and colour concoction was the stuff of viral dreams because even if you were not talking about it someone you followed was, and sharing content.
Turning Likes into Dollars
The goal of many new fast food menu items nowadays is to capture interest. New menu items are being released as limited time offers solely for this purpose. A great example of this was Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Cholula which grew to viral stardom this past winter. Taco Bell teamed up with 70 social media influencers who they invited to try the product and share the content with their followers. Taco Bell has since reportedly sold 25 million of these and generated an estimated $25 million in sales. The item did so well the Taco Bell has since introduced the Naked Chicken Chips in hopes of a two-peat. Whether they can do a repeat will have to be seen, but even if they don’t the buzz generated by the item has helped to drive foot traffic to their stores.
Very recently the hashtag #NuggsforCarter was named the most retweeted tweet of all time. This started April 5, 2017 when a young man named Cater Castin asked Wendy's “how many retweets for a year supply of chicken nuggests?” To which Wendy's replied “18 million”. Since Carters initial tweet many top brands and celebrities have jumped on board helping the tweet reach 3.42M Retweets.
Carter has since got his 1 year supply of free chicken nuggets and Wendy's also gave a $100,000 donation in Carters name to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
The viral marketing approach continues to pick up steam. Canada recently celebrated its 150th birthday for which Tim Hortons created a viral sensation called the Poutine Donut. The fact that the menu item was not made available to Canadians helped to fan the flames as Canadians took to social media to air their delight or distain for the poutine donut.
As foodservice operators continue to reap the benefits of going viral, it’s no surprise that companies have started to jump on the viral marketing craze. Real Talk Fortune Cookies is a newly launched loyalty rewards and analytics company that has a platform that allows foodservice operators to manage online social media campaigns and collect consumer feedback via a wide variety of customizable options.
If you are one of those people who do not enjoy other people’s tweets about their food, get used to it. As more and more foodservice operators continue to reap the benefits of viral marketing the trend will likely spread across the foodservice industry.
Until next time your customers want to know why they should spend money at your restaurant, bar or cafe. So give them the goods!
Dwayne Reno CEO & Founder
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