Wendy’s Digital Marketing Team Share Secrets of Social Media Success


American fast food outlet Wendy’s has long been hailed as a measure of success when it comes to marketing via social media platforms, with their Twitter interaction in particular garnering much praise from marketing professionals and everyday consumers alike. They’ve had Twitter-wars with McDonalds (which they decidedly won), participated in spur-of-the-moment challenges that soon went viral – such as the Twitter-famous #NuggsForCarter interaction, and expertly fired back against would-be internet trolls. Every time they put fingers to keyboard they seem to delight their audience and see their revenue go up as a result, yet countless other brands fail to emulate their success.

Well at the recent Women in Digital conference, Wendy’s social media specialist Meredith Ulmer joined Christina Miller of ad agency VML, who assist Wendy’s in their online efforts, on stage to shine a little light on how exactly they go about capturing that ever-elusive viral moment, and harnessing it correctly when that time arises.

Such a time came for Wendy’s earlier this year when Twitter user Carter Wilkinson enquired as to how many retweets he needed to get in order to be rewarded with a year’s supply of chicken nuggets. Wendy’s laid down the gauntlet at the ridiculous figure of 18 million and likely thought little more of the tweet at first; that is until the tweet began to gain some serious traction and soon surpassed Ellen DeGeneres’ famous Oscar selfies to become the most-retweeted tweet of all time with over 3.6 million people opting to show their support for this apparently-nugget-obsessed teen in the form of a retweet.

Ulmer and Miller told their audience of fellow marketers at the WID conference that while they work under the principle that a brand has a threefold purpose on social media - namely to participate in online trends, provide responsive customer care, and finally to entertain – there remains no golden rule nor way to predict which tweets will go viral.

“We believe there is no ‘social voice.’ There’s one brand voice, and you apply that to social,” Miller said.

According to Ulmer, Wendy’s aims to present a somewhat “sassy” online persona, which she says has been the way ever since Clara Peller yelled, “Where’s the beef?” However Miller did also add that there are a few different stages of sass – lively, sassy, and feisty – and that they are careful not to jump the gun and fire back with an inappropriate response.

“We do not dial it up to feisty unless it’s totally necessary,” she stated.

Miller also outlined a few social media do’s and don’ts which they make sure to follow on their own channels, which are as follows:
  • Keep a consistent identity: “Define your purpose and stick to that.”
  • Don’t try to fake it: “People can see through it very quickly.”
  • Stay true to the brand: “If you’re a financial company, starting to tweet jokes would be really bizarre.”
  • Plan for mistakes: “Delete the offending post, apologize and keep responding honestly to those who complain.”
  • Be quiet during breaking news of disasters: “Wendy’s typically shuts down promoted posts, so were not blasting hamburger messages in the midst of a tragedy.” 

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