This blog series is brought to you by FohBoh Inc., the cutting-edge social Web technology company for the $1.7 trillion foodservice industry. This series will focus on the social media side of Franchise Appreciation Day, featuring thought leaders from Domino’s, KFC and California Tortilla.
Every project introduction from KFC has an element of social media. From a $20,000 college scholarship contest on Twitter to the recent launch of a website remembering the late Colonel Sanders, KFC puts a lot of faith in its social media activity.
“It’s really about connecting with fans and making sure the brand remains relevant,” said Rick Maynard, manager of public relations at KFC. “We don’t spend a lot of time figuring out the value of a Facebook follower. We see it as 3.5 million people who opted in and feel strongly about the brand, and we owe them the interaction and have a lot of fun doing it.”
“The Colonel has received marriage proposals — we graciously declined — and has been invited to weddings (he couldn’t attend, but we sent buckets of chicken for the reception),” Maynard said. “We’ve received a number of tweeted photos from people who have Colonel Sanders tattoos — seriously — and we regularly get photos from men who think they look like the Colonel.”
KFC manages its corporate social media tools internally, with a cross-functional team. The strategy: to connect and engage with KFC followers, cultivate relationships and respond to any inquiries. Sounds like KFC has a lot of fun. But what about tracking now that the strategy is working?
“We don’t get a lot of pressure to justify [the return on investment]. It’s a very important customer-service element, and that’s enough for us,” Maynard said.
It makes sense. Take the product launch of the Double Down sandwich, for example. Thousands of people were talking about it on Facebook, people were using Twitter to arrange group visits to restaurants to try the new sandwich, and KFC received dozens of YouTube videos of people sampling the menu item.
While product launches and contests are a big part of KFC’s social media marketing, sometimes the company just wants to have a little fun with their customers and ask a multiple-choice question on Facebook, such as “There’s one piece of chicken left in the bucket. What do you do?”
Earlier this summer, Ogilvy released study findings that consumers who were exposed exclusively to social media ads for KFC were seven times more likely to spend more than the average consumer.
But, at the end of the day, Maynard said, “It’s about cultivating relationships, and that has a real business output.”
According to the International Franchise Association, 2011 will be a growth year for franchises, with a 2.5% increase in franchise locations after losses in 2009 and minimal growth last year. Saturday is Franchise Appreciation Day, a day during which franchises will show their customers how much they mean to them through discounts, deals and giveaways. The special day aims to create an awareness to increase customers knowledge of the importance of using social media networks and location-based services to connect with and continue to support local franchises.
Photo: This word cloud was created from the nearly 3,000 Twitter applications that KFC received in its college scholarship contest. Courtesy of KFC.