What Chicken Sandwiches Can Teach You About Marketing

The chicken sandwich wars sparked by the launch of a new Popeye’s product shows the importance of an effective social media strategy

his week has shown us the importance of an effective social media strategy for brands like fast-food chicken chain Popeye’s who just want to sell their new fried chicken sandwiches.

The announcement of the new product caused a social media interaction between popular fast food eateries that has attracted attention from The New York TimesThe New Yorker and the Washington Post.

What happened?

When Popeye’s launched the product, its competitor Chik-fil-A replied with an ad for its own ‘original’ chicken sandwich. Then Popeye’s replied with a tweet that said ‘… y’all good?’, only for Wendy’s to jump in with ‘Y’all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich’, implying of course that its own sandwich is number one.

Zaxby’s joined the fray with ‘Did someone say sandwiches?’ and Shake Shack chimed in, telling hungry people everywhere: “If you’re looking for a chicken sandwich (without the beef 😉), you know where to find us.”

With the social media traction and subsequent media attention the interaction received, Popeye’s sold out of its sandwiches at many locations, whilst adding more than 25k followers to their Twitter account. Having a good personality on social media is important then, if you’re trying to shift sandwiches.

The personality cultivated by brands like these fast food chains on Twitter can tell you a lot about social media strategy.

Humour is key

One of the most popular brands on Twitter here in the UK is Innocent Drinks who use the moniker @innocent.

Their latest controversy is a debate over whether their new drink, ‘Bolt From the Blue’ is actually blue.

Their account works well, because like Wendy’s Twitter account they engage with their followers. They also use humour to sell their products, often piggybacking on current affairs or ‘National Day of…’ to sell their produce.

The brand does particularly well here in the UK because it exploits national stereotypes such as Brits talking a lot about the weather.

Try and engage with things that are trending on Twitter, and use humour to tangentially relate your product to what is going on in the world — all you need is for one tweet to go viral and you will gain lots of followers.

Engage with your followers

The success of Wendy’s Twitter account has already been widely documented, with the brand throwing shade at McDonald’s when they accidentally tweeted placeholder text for Black Friday.

They’ve also been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show after telling Carter Wilkerson that if he got 18 million retweets he could have free chicken nuggets for a year.

Consumers engage with the account because they know they can expect a reply.

Indeed, the reply rate is the sweet spot of Wendy’s Twitter strategy. It was found that 78% of the people who tweet to any brand expect a reply within one hour. In 2017, Wendy’s replied to over 20K tweets in an average of 15 minutes per tweet!

This is a strategy that cellphone provider Tesco Mobile has adopted here in the UK.

Of course, a large part of their day to day is addressing problems with customers’ service, but by being self-deprecating and using humour to address those who say their service is rubbish, they keep their brand at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

Whilst you probably don’t have the time to manage your Twitter account 24/7, or the money to pay someone else to, you can make sure that you reply to customer queries as promptly as possible — and add a dash of humour every now and again.

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