Fast food restaurant Arby’s is known for its roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. Why then does their social media feature paper crafted models of anime and video game characters? Why does pancake peddler Denny’s embed jokes about existential nihilism within its tweets? Today’s social media managers understand the importance of identifying with their audience. But they also realize some of the more established brands may need a jolt to reinvigorate their base. Here are some unconventional social media practices brands have used to reengage their followers.
Use Friendly Banter
Twitter’s microblogging platform offers an easy way to make quick statements and interactions while reaching a large audience. It’s also the perfect venue to share trending memes and hashtags. So it’s no wonder that popular restaurants like Wendy’s and Denny’s have used Twitter to incorporate unconventional social media practices.
Wendy’s uses clever one-liners and witty comebacks to poke fun at rival hamburger chains—and their patrons. While insulting the competition is nothing new, putting down the audience may seem like a strange tactic. The post’s tone is key. By keeping the banter friendly and tongue-in-cheek, the brand comes off as fun and personable. This successfully humanizes the brand and makes it more appealing.
But Wendy’s biggest social media success is arguably #NuggsForCarter, a simple interaction that took the Internet by storm. One man’s request for a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets resulted in the most retweeted tweet ever. Wendy’s propelled their brand through millions of timelines just by being responsive and playing along.
What’s popular with the kids?
Denny’s has taken a slightly different tack. The 65-year-old breakfast chain somehow found a way to appeal to a younger audience. A scavenger hunt-style meme blended with a philosophical message resulted one of their most successful posts. The “zoom in on the syrup” post is both funny and engaging. But it also inspires the audience to root for the marketing team.
Whoever is tuning the @DennysDiner account deserves a Pulitzer Prize
— miko (@MCanT033) March 3, 2017
These unconventional social media practices aren’t just for restaurants. Moon Pie, the classic chocolate-covered graham cracker and marshmallow snack, also has a popular Twitter feed. Followers enjoy the brand’s off-beat, introspective posts and sassy responses. But they also offer more personal interactions, which helps build a genuine connection with the audience.
“I tweeted ‘if you’re feeling sad we can talk about it’ and people just started replying and DM’ing me about what was going on in their lives,” social media manager Patrick Wells said. “People really opened up.”
Find Success in the Unexpected
Then there is the completely unexpected way of engaging with an audience. Arby’s has found a niche following by tailoring their activity around the social media manager’s own interests. While the posts are extremely creative, they have little to do with selling roast beef sandwiches. However, the brand’s appeal has catapulted with fans of popular culture. Arby’s has also increased its visibility at anime and comic book conventions, engaging fans and offering free prizes and swag. Their unconventional social media practices have helped revive this once-failing brand.
It might make sense that older, established brands will already have a tried and true base. But as these consumers age out of the core audience, the younger demographic becomes more important. Unconventional social media practices might just spark a new love for a stale, aging brand.