ICYMI, another “Twitter war” broke out last week. This episode featured Chick-Fil-A, Popeye’s and the king of Twitter wars, Wendy’s.
I’ve been a long-time skeptic of these Twitter battles, as I believe they add virtually nothing from a marketing/communications perspective. The only reason I can see to even pursue such a strategy is to drum up mainstream media coverage–and man, does that ever work (the media loves a good Twitter war–still in 2019!).
So, when this particular war broke out about who has the best chicken sammie, I was once again, skeptical.
However, I’ve been proven wrong. A Twitter battle can be a good strategy. In this case, you could even say it was a fantastic strategy.
But here’s the thing: it wasn’t entirely Popeye’s idea. Popeye’s was simply reacting to a single tweet by Chick-Fil-A about the rollout of its new chicken sandwich. According to reports, Popeye’s then assembled a small marketing team to come up with the following retort:
And the Twitter war was on.
Wendy’s (again, the veteran of all Twitter wars) jumped in, but Popeye’s quickly responded.
Like other Twitter wars, this one spawned quick mainstream news coverage, which drew even more interest, especially among celebs like Emeril Lagasse.
And Stephon Diggs.
Since many of the celeb tweets I saw included no ad disclaimer, I can only assume they were mostly (all) organic. This is the kind of word-of-mouth and influencer marketing most organizations dream of. And Popeye’s was getting it, over and over and over again.
Once the fuse had been lit on Twitter, and the fire started to rage in the mainstream media, actual customers started to take an interest. And, with that interest, came curiousity in trying Popeye’s new chicken sandwich.
There has been so much interest, in fact, that Popeye’s informed us that its new chicken sandwich is now SOLD OUT until further notice.
And, for that reason alone, I think it’s safe to say we can call this one reactionary tweet a monstrous win for Popeye’s.
But, if we break down the campaign a bit more, we can see that it was also a huge win across the social media board. Just look at a few of the key metrics that Popeye’s is most likely keeping an eye on for a launch like this:
Since I’m not a Popeye’s marketing employee and I don’t typically have access to a suite of paid measurement tools, I can only react to what I see publicly. And, what we can see is impressive. Take Popeyes original tweet to Chick-Fil-A. It had 325,000 likes, 87,700 retweets and 5,200 replies. That’s roughly 418,000 engagements for a single tweet. Compare that to the average of the last five tweets Popeyes made: 1,105 engagements per tweet. Or, just take a look at a few of the influencers and celebs who shared their opinion about the new sandwich: Lagasse (6,638 engagements); Ava Alfonso (24,372 engagements) and Prentice Penny (10,573 engagements)–all well above Popeye’s pre-launch average. I’m sure when the official impressions/engagement numbers do come out, they’ll be astronomical. But for now, I think we can safely say, from a reach and customer engagement perspective, this was a big win.
Foot traffic (huge lines)
Um, did you see the lines? People were actually bum-rushing Popeye’s stores nationwide. POPEYE’S! When was the last time you saw a line of more than 3 people at Popeye’s? Go ahead, I’ll wait! The lines and foot traffic was so huge that employees were working overtime to make sure people were served. And again, the sandwiches sold out in less than two weeks. Want more proof this was a big win: Popeye’s had “aggressively forecasted” it had enough sammies through the end of September for this launch. They lasted just two weeks.
Sales (sold out!)
The holy grail of social media metrics–and the one that’s toughest to tie actions to. But, I think it’s pretty clear that one tweet (and the subsequent media storm it set off), is what’s largely behind Popeye’s selling out the sandwiches in record time. This will be a case study social media marketers will talk about for years–I just hope it doesn’t mean we’re going to see MORE of these Twitter wars!
One big trend I see accelerating in the social media world in 2019 is the move to more “community” and less “let’s go viral”. It’s something I talked about in my trends presentation I put together that I’ve given now to five different groups in the Twin Cities.
Facebook is pushing Groups now, as exhibited by the promotional videos like this.
And, we know, anecdotally, that more people are tiring of the Facebook feed each day. Sure, Facebook may say numbers are up and things are good, but everyone I’ve talked to lately talks more about the vitriol and political rantings than they do productive conversations. This is why groups are emerging as a place people want to spend time.
I’m seeing more of it, too. In my research for one client last year, I came across the Dental Hacks Facebook Group.
It’s an extension of the Dental Hacks Podcast, one of the more popular podcasts in all of dentistry (podcasting in dentistry is a big deal–just Google “dentist podcasts” and see for yourself!). And, it’s an ACTIVE group. I’d say there are 15-20 posts a day and many posts get 40-50 THOUGHTFUL comments (not emojis, spam or one-word comments). Nope, this is a true COMMUNITY in every sense of the word. And, like I said, I think we’re going to see even more of this as we head into 2020.
Which begs the question: How can brands be a part of this shift to groups on Facebook?
Sure, the easy answer is for brands to start groups of their own. And, that will happen. In some cases, it will make sense, too.
I could see brands developing groups for loyal super-fans as a way to facilitate customer service and innovation. I could see academic institutions developing groups for alumni groups (many already have!). There are going to be opportunities for brands to create and facilitate groups.
But, one approach I don’t hear too many people talking about yet is enabling key employees and influencers to participate in target groups on your brand’s behalf.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
Let’s use Spredfast as an example and keep things in our industry. Spredfast could certainly create their own group of power users and use it as a chance to listen to concerns and feedback from its more loyal users. That would make sense, and they might even see success with that approach.
But, what if they also enabled 1-2 community-manager types to participate in key groups across Facebook on behalf of Spredfast? Groups like this Social Media Manager Group that has more than 30,000 members. The idea: the Spredfast community manager would ask to join the group and check-in with the group 1-2 times per day. Listen to what members are talking about. Identify trends other social media managers are talking about (this could enable innovation at Spredfast). And, when members have specific questions about Spredfast or social listening tools, that Spredfast employee could jump in and answer those questions (without being salesy, of course). In this way, the Spredfast employee is simply a community member adding value on behalf of the brand.
This is how I see brands participating in Facebook Groups effectively.
It’s not sexy. It’s certainly not “scalable” (one of the most over-used buzzwords in our industry). But, in this new, emerging world of what social media could look like in the next decade, I believe it can be a smart move for brands.
What do you think, social media friends?
Kevin Hunt and I have been publishing our Talking Points Podcast now for five years. We just recorded our 117th episode a couple weeks ago. Because we’ve been around a while now, and there’s surprisingly not a lot of social media/comms podcasts that have consistently posted every month for the last five years, we’re getting pitched from time to time.
Except, I see a lot of pitches that are the exact opposite.
They’re out of left field (I rarely know the person, and they’ve done nothing to even try to build a relationship with me or Kevin, which would be pretty easy, by the way!). And, they’re rarely even on point with our show! In essence, 99% of them kinda suck.
Because they’re missing the key component when it comes to pitching most podcasts.
They’re not making it all about me/us.
I know, I know, that sounds pretty conceited. But, bear with me as I explain.
To be clear, I’m not talking about pitching media-based podcasts here like NPR’s Fresh Air. I’m talking about the rest of the podcasts (the majority), which are run by regular old joes and joettes talking about a specific topic or industry.
And that leads me to the mistake most make. They treat the pitch like they’re pitching a media member when they most certainly are not in most cases.
Often, they’re pitching someone who:
1) Has a full-time job and it’s not in the media
2) Is trying to build a business for themselves
3) Is trying to build a name for themselves as an influencer or thought leader in that specific niche.
In those cases, the pitch needs to change–it needs to be all about the host you’re pitching.
The angle or guest you’re pitching almost becomes table stakes. I assume you’re going to pitch me a guest who works in the comms or social world if you want to be on the Talking Points Podcast. But, what does your guest do for ME and Kevin? How are you going to help us?
Because, at the end of the day, that’s what most hosts are after.
Specifically, they’re after:
- Guests who can help extend their reach for the show (i.e., guests with larger followings on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Insta or guests with a large enewsletter distribution list who will share the show with their networks)
- Guests who could potentially be a client–or referral source
- Guests who are already influencers who can help provide credibility to on-the-rise or newer shows
They might not say it, but this is what podcasters are looking for.
What they don’t want is:
- Guests who are pushing their latest book (we don’t care, and you’re usually not that interesting–sorry)
- Guests who I haven’t heard of or work for companies or agencies I’ve never heard of (unless the guest is REALLY interesting and engaging)
- Guests who work for a freaking competitor! (this has happened to me)
I just refuse to think this is hard. All you have to do is ask one simple question when pitching most podcasters: “What can I do to help the host?”
That’s it. Do that, and you’ll see more guest placements. I can almost guarantee it.
The AP Style folks recently made an earth-shattering change to its AP Style Standards: You no longer have to spell out “%” after a number.
That was actually close to the reaction I got from friends and colleagues on a LinkedIn post where I shared this news a few weeks ago. And, for good reason. Many of my friends and colleagues are now in the “more experienced” group. We grew up having AP Style beat into our heads by bosses and reporters. We learned it in college. It was our Bible. And, in many ways, it still is.
However, I wonder about the younger generation. I wonder if they see AP Style the same way.
Because, whether we want to admit it or not, the world has changed.
Think about the genesis of AP Style. It began as a way to standardize rules around editing based on mass media–specifically, mainstream print media.
In the golden age of print, AP Style reigned supreme because editors and reporters used it–therefore, PR types like us were forced to learn it and use it. Heck, many of us grew up wanting to be journalists anyway, so we learned it first back in college!
But, over the last 10-15 years, a lot has happened. Let’s analyze three big behavior shifts:
Media consumption behaviors have shifted.
People now spend only 11 minutes a day consuming newspaper media, and 9 minutes a day consuming magazine media. Meanwhile, they spend 6 hours and 35 minutes a day consuming digital media. Now, you could say a lot of that digital media time is spent consuming traditional news media showing up in online and social channels (and you might be right), but another big piece of that is merely social content that is definitely not ruled by the AP Style Handbook. Posts from friends (full of typos and poor grammar). Blog content from people with varying writing skills (this even applies to some “media “sites now). I would even throw content written by professionals on platforms like LinkedIn in here, too, as it often contains misses and mistakes as laid out in the AP Style Handbook.
Communication behaviors have changed.
10 years ago, emojis were barely a thing. Today, they’re absolutely a key way we all communicate. They show up in texts. Facebook and Insta posts. They even show up in emails! Heck, even the Wall Street Journal is saying “Yes, You Should Be Using Emojis at Work” (that was the actual headline!). According to the Journal: “Once viewed as a frivolity, emojis are now key to clear and concise communication, esprit de corps and cultivating a shared corporate culture.” Emojis are no longer something young people use either. Anecdotally, my Mom now regularly sends me texts with MULTIPLE emojis! And, the platforms are noticing–and adding new emojis all the time (like Google did earlier this year when it added 65 new emojis to its list). Communication has become far more visual over the last 10 years–and far less stringent when it comes to the written word.
Technology has changed communication behaviors, too.
Again, think about how you communicated 10 years ago. Mostly (still) via email and phone. Now, think about how you communicate today. It’s a mix of texts, direct messages on social platforms, some email and hardly any phone calls. Those first two mentioned are heavily predicated on visual communication. Many communicate largely (if not entirely) via their phones!
Now, Am I saying AP Style is dead? Not by a long shot. But, is it still as relevant today in 2019 as it was in 2009? I’m not so sure about that.
Let’s go back and look at my LinkedIn post. Emily’s comment says what I believe a lot of people are thinking:
Then again, Debbie’s comment below sums up my thinking–and probably a large number of people under the age of 40:
Thinking about my client work over the last few years, this is also a trend. I’ve noticed some of my clients blowing off hard-and-fast AP Style Guidelines–like the aforementioned percent rule (well, the old rule, at least). In fact, a number of hard AP Style rules seem to be routinely ignored in 2019:
- Abbreviating months with six or more letters if they are used with a specific date. This one is broken ALL THE TIME! According to AP Style, it’s Aug. not August.
- Formal titles are only capitalized when they appear immediately before a name. Again, broken ALL THE TIME! Nope, it’s not Arik Hanson, Principal of ACH Communications.
- In most usage, spell out numbers under 10 (with a few exceptions). Again, broken ALL THE TIME! How many times have I seen 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ad 9 on the web?
Sensing a trend here? And, those are just the major AP Style guidelines that most people should know!
Bottom line: AP Style just doesn’t have the relevance (sadly) it had 10 years ago. And, I fear it’s dying a slow, painful death.
Here’s your chance to defend yourself Grammar Nerds!
My Talking Points Podcast partner, Kevin Hunt, is not a fan of Facebook.
I give him grief about it on the show all the time.
He doesn’t like the data mining.
He doesn’t like the lying.
He thinks it toxic.
And you know what, he’s right on all counts. No doubt about it, really. And, he’s hardly alone.
People are fleeing Facebook. Not in droves, but slowly–they’re leaving.
Let’s face it: It’s just not cool to be on Facebook anymore.
But, I’m going to stand tall for Facebook (or, at least try to). I agree with all those assumptions above. But, I’m still a daily user. I still find time in my day to peruse my feed. And despite all the negativity around Facebook, I still find myself drawn to it for a number of reasons:
I know, this shouldn’t be a primary reason anyone uses Facebook, but for me, it’s the best tool to remind me of friends and families birthdays. I’m usually not big on leaving comments on friends pages for birthdays–I’m more inclined to send an email, or even call!
First day of school pics
One of my favorite Facebook days of the year (the other: Halloween!). I absolutely love seeing all the first day of school pics. Seeing my friends’ kids grow up. Seeing my nieces and nephews. I would miss this, and I don’t think I would get it anywhere else (maybe Insta, but not all friends/family use that).
Big shared experiences
This cuts both ways, as big shared political experiences can get toxic quickly. But, I’m referring more to big shared experiences like attending the MN State Fair, or big concerts, or the Minnesota Miracle! Seeing people’s pics and comments during these big shared experiences has just been plain fun for me over the years.
The best way for me to keep tabs on a lot of people
What’s really great about Facebook for me is it’s the best way for me to keep up-to-date on what’s going on with a wide group of people. Yes, I’d probably know what’s going on with my family if Facebook didn’t exist. But, I probably wouldn’t know what’s going on with my friend Jason Wolf, whom I worked with years ago and since moved to south Florida (for example, he recently swam with Dolphins in the Bahamas! That’s super cool and I never would have known about it if it weren’t for Facebook). This is important from a business perspective, too, as I use Facebook all the time to research what folks have been up to before I meet with them.
Groups for niche interests
No, I don’t think Facebook will become all about Groups. But, I do find them valuable for specific niches. For example, the national #SoloPRPro Facebook Group is easily the best group I’m a member of with 10-20 posts a day–many with 10-20 thoughtful comments on a wide range of issues facing solo PR consultants. Or, the local Twin Cities Bicycle Trading post–a group my friend Jesse Stremcha turned me on to. I recently sold my daughter’s old bike there! Great group for cyclists and wannabee cyclists!
What about you? Still using Facebook? If yes, I’d love to hear more about why.