3 Timeless Social Media Starting Points for QSR Brands

While the world of social media content continues to evolve, QSR brands can take comfort in knowing that are handful of deep-rooted principles hold steady.  Below are three timeless starting points for creating social content:

1.    Picture your post.

Between Instagram, Vine and even Snapchat, the trend of sharing visual content has increased within the past year and a half.  To maximize on this, QSR brands should consider the imagery used in social content, paying particular attention to the type of photos their fans are sharing and engaging with. Several brands, including Taco Bell, Dairy Queen and McDonald’s recently began using Instagram-style images on both Facebook and Twitter, not just Instagram, a trend that mimics the behavior of their fans.

QSR brands should also consider the shareability of an image; often times, an enticing photo of a food item is enough to trigger a response from a fan, so post copy can be kept to a minimum. A great example is this tweet from McDonald’s, featuring a short “Good morning!” message and an Instagram-style photo of an Egg McMuffin. The post was short, sweet and relatable; the food looks just like an Instagram photo you’d take and share yourself. The tweet worked so well, it was enough to convince a “Business Insider” blogger to immediately go to McDonald’s and purchase breakfast.


2. Create a social series.

Whether it’s a #ThrowbackThursday post every Thursday or a reoccurring image theme, such as Dairy Queen’s “Cake Truths,” social series are a great way for QSR brands to build on their editorial calendars, as once the framework is established, they’re relatively easy to maintain.

Series can be timely or seasonal, as long as they retain a certain amount continuity, so as not to confuse fans. Successful social series for QSR brands are often inspired by fan or consumer behavior, such as ordering habits or occasions for visiting the restaurant. 


3.    Be relevant.

Consider what’s happening in pop culture, Hollywood or online. Incorporating themes, trends, or even mentioning a specific cultural event helps QSR brands stay in touch with what their fans and consumers are most likely talking about, both on and offline.

The key here is to make sure the event, theme or trend overlaps and meshes well with the brand so the content remains genuine, and not like a grasp at staying relevant for the sake of staying relevant. A fun example from Burger King was a tweet referring to the season premiere of “American Horror Story,” a TV show with a lot of social media buzz and mentions.



QSR Insights: Starbucks Introduces Tweet-a-coffee

With Tweet-a-coffee you can send coffee gift certificates to friends.For coffee drinkers, purchasing and giving tangible gift cards might be a thing of the past. Starbucks recently introduced Tweet-a-coffee, offering users a new way to send $5 Starbucks Card eGifts to Twitter followers and friends.

Currently in beta and only available in the U.S., users simply sync their Starbucks account with their Twitter account, then tweet the following message: “@tweetacoffee to @[Twitter username].”

While users can reward their own followers with an eGift, they can also reward and surprise complete strangers, an aspect that falls in line with the “nurture, inspire and pay-it-forward” brand mission Starbucks strongly stands behind.

In 2011, the coffee company launched a similar program allowing users to send gift cards via Facebook. And while Starbucks has far fewer Twitter followers than Facebook fans (five million compared to 35 million, respectively), the brand isn’t concerned; “I think the two platforms complement each other,” Starbucks chief digital officer Adam Brotman told Mashable.

Brotman also commented on Twitter’s inherently mobile nature and its “ability to bridge both the online and offline worlds,” something QSR brands looking to launch similar programs should keep in mind. “It does feed into those physical offline/online moments of serendipity,” Brotman said.

The trend of sending gift cards via social media garnered most of its popularity when Facebook began offering branded gift cards this past February, with QSR brands Jamba Juice and Burger King among the most popular and most-given.

Finally, the Tweet-a-coffee program is an excellent tool for Starbucks to use to gather information about consumers.  Not only does this new program attract more users to download the Starbucks app, but it also allows Starbucks to gather email addresses and additional customer information. Tweet-a-coffee also allows the brand to become involved in the social media conversations.  This is a powerful way for a brand to be talking with the customer online opposed to just talking at the customer.

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes


QSR Insights: The Chipotle “Twitter Hack”

Odd tweets from ChipotleRecently, Chipotle’s main Twitter account, @ChipotleTweets, posted a series of random, seemingly unrelated tweets during the course of one hour. After a few days, Chipotle then came forward and announced that the hack was actually a publicity stunt to help promote “Adventurrito,” a 20-day long treasure hunt to help celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary.

Did the faux hack work in the brand’s favor or was it a miss?

Read my take on it at FastCasual.com


QSR Insights: QSR Brands on Vine

Since its launch in January, Vine has grown to become a social media mainstay, attracting more than 13 million users.  The platform, which allows users to share six-second videos with other Vine users, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, initially attracted the attention of teens and millennial. However, brands were relatively quick to sign up for Vine and added it to their repertoire of social media channels.

Why should QSR brands join Vine? Here’s a quick overview:

Wendy's uses Vine to engage customersIntegrated trending hashtags. A recent update to the app now allows users to search trending hashtags, highlighting a wider variety of content. This is not only helpful to everyday users, but also for brands who want to take advantage of a relatable hashtag for their brand. And since Vine allows posting to Twitter, it’s also a great opportunity for brands to use signature hashtags as a way to cross promote and create a halo effect across the two platforms.

Offers a quick, imaginative way to tease or promote a product. Vine is the perfect platform for LTO teasers; it required little effort or production. The fact that Vine is limited to only a few seconds of video also plays into the cravings of fans.

Allows brands to play off of fan behaviors and trends. Loyal QSR fans interact with food and products in specific ways, from special drink combinations to dipping French fries in ice cream. And while photos work great, there’s sometimes a greater sense of emotion when seeing something or someone in action As fans’ attention span continues to decrease, short and sweet videos are becoming more prevalent and preferred. Wendy’s recently joined Vine and has been posting videos of common dining practices, such as dipping French fries into a Frosty. The video and audio aspect of Vine is a good platform to highlight these trends.

Tips for QSR brands joining Vine:

Red Mango promotes via Vine

Be relevant and creative with your content. “Think of Vine as Twitter for still and animated images,” says Dan Kim, founder and COO of frozen yogurt chain Red Mango, a QSR brand that’s been effectively using Vine for a few months now.

Remember that social media etiquette still applies. While Vine might seem frivolous and separated slightly from big social media players like Facebook and Twitter, QSR brands shouldn’t forget social best practices such as engaging with fans, watching and monitoring for any community management crisis, etc.


QSR Insights: 3 Reasons Why Brands Should Join Tumblr

DQ Tumblr

Founded in April 2007, microblogging platform Tumblr (often stylized as tumblr) quickly became an Internet mainstay, with more than 75,000 users signing up within the first two weeks of the site’s launch. Spanning fashion, food, sports, travel, photography, animals, and a variety of other topics, Tumblr is now home to more than 95 million blogs, with more and more users joining daily.

So what sets it apart?

Like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and other social channels, the overarching goal of Tumblr is promoting and sharing content. However, Tumblr is unique in that it allows multimedia elements to be shared with greater fluidity; a single blog can contain static photos, GIFs or animations, videos, and audio. Tumblr also offers a high level of customization: HTML coding helps alter blogs so that no two are exactly alike, making them almost as customizable as a full website. A “dashboard,” similar to The Facebook news feed is the user’s interface where he or she can view, “like” or re-blog content posted by other users.

 Why should QSR brands start blogging on Tumblr?

Tumblr is not just for the everyday user looking at high-fashion photos or GIFs of cats. Recently, the site has piqued the interest of several brands looking to share relevant content with fans who, according to research conducted by Tumblr, spend more time per average visit on Tumblr than on any other social platform.

Here are three specific reasons that QSRs should blog on Tumblr:

  1. Content for brands does not have to be original. Many brands are simply re-blogging content curated by other Tumblr pages that reflect the brand’s overall theme or mission. The typical ratio for fan vs. original content for most brands on Tumblr is about 80:20.

  1. In terms of community management and content creation, perhaps one of the best features of Tumblr is the lack of a CSR platform. This allows users to engage on a brand level, rather than a customer service level. Brands are therefore able to share beautiful, engaging content without getting lost in the hubbub of comments or replies. Tumblr essentially eliminates any customer service-type posts that QSR brands often see on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

  1. QSR brands can utilize the high level of customization to fit a specific LTO, campaign strategy, consumer trend, etc. Dairy Queen, for example, recently launched a Tumblr page centered around the campaign of “Fan Food, Not Fast Food,” re-blogging content primarily of fans interacting with their products, not just the products themselves. Another great example: fast-casual Italian restaurant Fazoli’s launched a special Tumblr page last summer to promote a nation-wide bread stick tour, posting photos from the trip as well as clues for the upcoming tour locations.

General Tips and Guidelines on getting started:

  • Get familiar with the Tumblr community. Before creating a Tumblr account for your brand, take a look at what’s going on in the Tumblr community—not just with other brands, but with the average, everyday user. One behavior you’ll probably notice is that a lot of Tumblr users add their own message or opinion to a piece of content prior to re-blogging it. QSR Brands can utilize this common Tumblr practice by adding their own perspective to previously curated content. It’s a good idea to search tags.

  • Utilize customization. After creating a Tumblr page, customize it to best fit the brand’s image and overall aesthetics. Keep everything from colors to fonts to layout in mind and consult with designers if needed.

  • Know your brand’s voice. Treat Tumblr like other social platforms to keep the brand’s voice top of mind when curating content from other Tumblr users. Consistency is important.

  • Consider what’s worth a “reblog.” Similar to sharing on Facebook or a retweet on Twitter, a reblog on Tumblr is a post’s stamp of approval. When curating content, consider what would make a user want to re-blog the post to his or her personal page.

  • Don’t be afraid to utilize branded content. The brands that are performing best at Tumblr aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to content; they’re sprinkling in repurposed images, graphics and other media from past and current campaigns to supplement posts from other blogs. Turning a six second clip from a YouTube video into a GIF is one simple way to create a post. Coca-Cola has some great examples of this. Social platforms have also made it easy to share one piece of content across a variety of channels. You can select “post to Tumblr” when adding a photo to Instagram and you can select “post to Twitter” when re-blogging a photo on Tumblr.

Additional insights and links: