For decades franchise brands such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Church’s Chicken relied on consistent, uniform marketing efforts to entice hungry consumers through their doors. The brands were in control of their public image, and in the food industry – which is susceptible to any number of brand crises – that paradigm served them well. Then, technology changed everything.
Advertising is no longer pushed from the brand onto the customers. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube empowered consumers and allowed them to wrest themselves free of sleek marketing campaigns that brands employ with demographic precision. Today, if a consumer purchases an undercooked chicken sandwich at a McDonald’s they can blog about it – sometimes to large audiences – and their experiences and opinions are instantly believed and valued by others. Now that’s power.
Is this development new? No.
Yet it marks a histor
ic and continuing development in how consumers perceive franchise brands. Erik Qualman, the social media guru who coined the term Socialnomics, explains:
“In the past you’d have marketing divisions that sit for a year and scope out what’s going to be their next message, and sit behind closed doors and think they have all the answers, when the answers are actually now on their fingertips externally. Their customers are more than happy to provide what their needs are. So that’s the biggest shift is one company that’
s thinking outward-in is going to beat the company that’s thinking inward-out. That’s a huge paradigm shift.”
For example, last summer Pizza Hut launched a campaign on Twitter, looking for a summer “twintern” to blog to their fans about all things pizza and maintain the company’s presence on Twitter and other social media sites. Today the brand has 25,262 followers on Twitter, and probably more by the time you click on its Twitter page, where MalikaShawn claims “Pizza and football are the best combination!” Even more impressive: Pizza Hut has 1,110,090 fans on its Facebook page.
icken offered a Twitter "pay it forward" launch promotion, promising to donate $1 to its pledge fund for anyone joining their Twitter feed during a 30-day sign-up period. The brand currently has 6,603 followers on its Twitter page, where actual consumers promote the brand’s special deals, while enticing others to visit the brand’s webpage. The brand has 613 fans on its Facebook page.
And how about megabrand McDonald’s? They have 13,142 Twitter followers. Better than Church’s Chicken, but worse than Pizza Hut. But don't worry "I'm Lovin' It" brand ambassadors. McDonald's has 1,610,641,658 fans on Facebook.
Perhaps you're one of them.