Downfall of Burger King

When I was younger I never heard of Subway, my parents would ask me I wanted to go to McDonalds or Burger King, no other suggestions offered.  I was always a McDonalds person when I was younger because of the Happy Meal, my father preferred Burger King because he loved their fries.  Nowadays, we have several options, including healthier fast food options.  This is where McDonalds is using social media tools to differentiate their offerings from Burger King, before the big question was; Big Mac or Whopper? Now with a more health conscious America the focus has changed.

When researching the big two social media tools (Facebook and Twitter) both of the fast food restaurants had a presence.  Undeniably, McDonalds trumped Burger King in followers on both sites (I told you Dad).  McDonalds has over 13 million Facebook fans and 255 thousand Twitter followers.  Burger King trails with around 2.5 million Facebook fans and 41 thousand Twitter followers.  One difference that sticks out like a sore thumb is that McDonalds posts around 6 thousand “tweets” where Burger King only had 681!  This is huge to me as it suggests that McDonalds is more engaged with their audience.  This difference strikes me as strange, as I always viewed the two chains as equals; serving the same menu with different names.  According to this research I was wrong.

McDonalds is trying to differentiate itself by focusing on a more health conscious approach, in a way I believe that McDonalds is more worried about Subway than Burger King.  When you first open their Facebook page, you see an introduction titled “Potatoes, Lettuce, Beef” which then tells a story about how “fresh” their products are and takes you into the life of one of their suppliers in these categories.  They post caloric intake on their products letting you know that a certain sandwich has less than 300 calories according to their Wholesome Menu.  McDonalds is obviously focusing on family with the Happy Meal and trying to offer a healthy alternative to their foundation products.

Burger Kings initial strategy was to market to teen-agers by reinventing “The King” with some strange advertisements featuring the “new” King.  This approach did not work and eventually Burger King decided to axe the King.  Targeting the teen market seemed like a good idea to Burger King but a change was needed.  Where Burger King falls behind McDonalds in their social media strategy is quite apparent if you check their Facebook and Twitter account.  They seem more dedicated to push products on their consumer rather than engage them.  Caloric intake is not mentioned in their photos of food, in fact, many postings try to convince you to buy a meal, such as their post, “Tax season is coming up sooner than you think! It’s never too early to start thinking about getting your paperwork in order. Make sure to pick up a BK® Value Meal to help you crunch all those numbers”. Also most of their Twitter posts are replicas of their Facebook posts.

It is clear to me that McDonalds has defeated Burger King in the social media war as of now.  This could change but it seems clear that Burger King is trying to reinvent itself at the moment and is a little lost at this time. Time will tell the outcome, however Burger King just keeps moving down the list of fast food restaurants.  Burger King needs to focus their energy on knowing what direction they would like to go in and who they would attract by doing so.

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RED BULL CREATES COMMUNITY

Let me start by stating that I am probably a marketer’s worst nightmare.  When it comes to brand loyalty, I am the Benedict Arnold of consumers.  I just like to change things up and try new things; my wife blames this trait on my astrological sign which is Gemini.  So this blog took some deep thinking to find a product that I use regularly and have some sort of loyalty to.  I mean I use Listerine all the time, I would never use Scope but I don’t know why, and it would be a pretty boring topic anyway.  Now in my profession as a utility lineman, I am often called in the middle of the night when a car hits a utility pole which usually means I need to arrive to the scene alert for my own safety.  This is when Red Bull comes in.

Red Bull “gives you wings” as the slogan states, and it is just what I need at 2 a.m. when a drunk driver smashes into a utility pole.  When Red Bull first entered the U.S market they focused on guerilla marketing techniques to create a buzz around the product.  They would place empty cans in highly visible trash cans such as in Central Park in New York City.  People passing by would see the litter and become curious of this new energy drink innovation.  With the rise of Social Media tools, Red Bull has really grown “wings” and flown to the top of the energy drink market.  With over 25 million Facebook fans Red Bull towers over their closest competitor Monster who has nearly 13 million fans.

Red Bull’s social media strategy has clearly helped strengthen the brand by creating a sort of community among its users; a culture if you will.  Utilizing Facebook, Twitter, even their own Red Bull television the company focuses on engaging with their audience rather than pushing their products on these sites.  At first glance, these sites do not look like a product page as the product is rarely seen or pushed on the consumer.  Their sites seem more of a collaboration of X-sports such as motocross, BMX, F1 racing, and other activities that shape their target markets interests.  Red Bull also features several contests and promotions to keep their audience engaged including treasure hunts, where they hide Red Bull products all over the country and their audience uses their website for clues as to where these products were hidden.  In their annual Flugtag event, competitors build flying machines and launch them off a ramp and judges vote on who had the best “wings”.  Red Bull has seemingly mastered the art of engagement.

Now I definitely drink down a Red Bull before a late night call out but I still don’t consider myself a brand advocate, well after this blog maybe I am.  I do not engage the brand by posting or reading their fan pages or watching their videos on the website, in fact by looking at their fan pages, I realize I am not in their target audience at all.  However, when I reach the refrigerator at the convenience store, I grab a Red Bull and never consider the competitor.  I guess this is what Edelman (2010) meant when he writes about the consumer buying process and explains that if the bond becomes strong enough the consumer skips the consider and evaluate stages all together.

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Social Media Crisis Management

 

Just read an interesting article on how to respond to a social media crisis.  Responding to a crisis regarding your company is a must and the faster you do it the better for your company.  Most businesses think of social media as a way of marketing or reaching out to your audience, however, a social media presence can also nip a crisis right in the butt as it happens.  Domino’s is a great example, a few years back a couple of Domino’s employees put a video on YouTube showing how they “created” your pizza.  Domino’s was a bit late in responding, creating a social media nightmare that they were not prepared for.  Preparation is the key to combat a social media crisis.

The article lists a 3 step basic guide to combat a negative social media attack.  First, Recognize the problem.  This is very important to understand, these attacks do not just blow over after time as they did in the past.  Which leads us to the second step; Action.  Something has to be done!  Apologize or atleast acknowledge that a problem was found, and of course try and use the medium that the complaint originated on.  If your attack came on YouTube, use the same channel to resond to the crisis.  Lastly, like Domino’s did in their 2009 crisis, Learn From Your Mistakes!  Do not let the groundswell work against you, let it work for you.  A recent example, which happens all the time on Twitter, is people and brands, post to quickly and do not think about what they are posting.  Ashton Kutcher is a perfect example, he tweeted a message following the Penn State scandal on how even as a rival he was disgusted that Penn State fired Joe Paterno (he had no idea of the abuse scandal).  Someone must have alerted him to the child abuse scandal and his next tweet issued an apology and a promise not to use the medium until he fully understood how to use it.  Please do not dive into social media, create a plan before entering the groundswell!

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Word Of Mouth and Social Media

 

Just read a great article on the power of word of mouth marketing using social media platforms.  As we all know, people trust their peers, family and social circles over the corporate word when dealing with buying decisions.  This article shows the various insights that determine the power of word of mouth marketing, which has always been a powerful tool.  The difference now is that the number of people who can be influenced are much greater than back in the day of the rotary telephone, with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, “friends” come by the dozens, or if you are my brother then they come by the thousands!  Yes, my brother has over a thousand Facebook friends, which I find hysterical because I do not even think he knows a thousand people!!  Anyway, my brother likes Burton snowboards, so when he “likes” Burton on Facebook, over a thousand people are somewhat influenced by his approval.  Some people will say, ” Oh look, Charlie likes Burton, maybe I should too”. Best of all, it doesn’t cost Burton a dime!  Kind of a corny explanation but you get the idea.  So let’s look over some of the numbers given in this report on finding influencers to push your product for you.

The big number is 82.  According to this report a whopping 82% of people say that their purchase decisions have been directly influenced by reviews.  This makes sense, most people will not buy a product that was given a 1 out of 5 stars, even though the company selling the product calls it reliable, safe and a great deal!

20 – 50% of purchases come from word of mouth.  Accordingly, based of who influences your buying decision, 26 % say bloggers, 35% indicate retailers, and again, 55% say friends.  Even Bloggers being at 26% shows just how the power struggle is starting to lean to the consumer in this new age of social media marketing.

Looks like it is about time to take this social media thing seriously and let your “fans” spread your product with the power of social media, that Brand Ambassador could be right around the corner.

 

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Power Of Social Networks

Just watched yet another great video on TED featuring Nicholas Christakis regarding the hidden influence of Social Media.  A real scientific view into the realm of Social Media, comparing it to a flock of birds, a hive of bees, or a pack of wolves, basically calling it a human “super organism”.  This is very true, being social beings nurtured through our relationships, these social networks have connected many of us like it or not. 

I find his ideology to be true, being someone who has moved around throughout my lifetime, attending 3 different high schools, I for one understand the meaning of social connections.  I remember when Facebook first came about, a friend called me and told me that there was this new site that “everybody” was on and how I had to open an account.  Having lived in 6 different states between the ages of 14 and 21, I found it imperative that I reconnect my bond with lost friends.  Christakis’s view that social networks are similar to a pack of wolves makes absolute sense, people need connections, we are social creatures that live, learn and thrive through our connections with other people.  We celebrate the births of children, mourn the losses of loved ones, congratulate each other on accomplishments, this is what seperates us from other forms of life.  When I moved for the first time at age 14 I cried and cried for months, moving was the hardest thing I ever did at that time, but social networking has brought me back with people that I never thought I would engage with again.  The philosophy that everyone is connected through social networks could not be more true,  having moved around the country a handful of times, I now see friends from Tennessee to Massachusetts interacting and becoming “friends” through the power of social networks.  In the old days people with similar beliefs or ideologies in different geographical areas of the country had no way to interact and share their beliefs, with social networks, people across the globe can interact and develop common causes to make the world better and I believe this is happening at this time.  Whether you are a Tea Party activist or a member of Occupy Wall Street, social networking has brought together different “packs” to unite for their beliefs.  My friends that have never met each other are becoming friends and uniting for causes that they believe in that would never have been possible in the past, in fact I have to thank social networking for reconnecting me to friends of the past in which I thought I would never see again.  Like a wolf pack, we all depend on each other to make sense of this world and thanks to technology, ideas that once seemed impossible to spread now are done with the simple click of a mouse.

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On The Tribes We Lead

 

Just watched a very
inspiring video by Seth Godin titled, “On the Tribes We Lead”. 

A great description on how the power of the
internet has created the demise of mass marketing and put the power into the
hands of ordinary people.  The focus of
his seminar was based on the power of the internet and the ability of people
with like thinking can organize, lead and create a very powerful movement.

A great example that he used had to do with an employee of the San Francisco chapter of the SPCA, which
at the time was a kill shelter meaning animals that were caught off the street
were considered not wanted and sentenced to a “humane” death.  Nathan decided that the SPCA should be
helping unwanted animals find homes rather than kill them, his colleagues
disagreed.  Nathan decided to go to the
community to hear their voice.  The end
result was the San Francisco chapter of the SPCA was the first “no kill”
shelter in the United States.  The movement
grew and Nathan visited other areas of the United States and let the people
decide what should be done with unwanted animals, which ended up creating a
loyal following which pretty much ended kill shelters.  Nathans example is a true example of the
power that groups can have when they unite for a common cause.  The internet has extended this power.

Seth Godin’s vision
declares that people now hold the power to organize, unite, and form movements
that Paul Revere would think impossible!
The basis is that different members of society (tribes) want to be
connected for causes that they believe are worthy and all they are looking for
is a leader.  He urges people to find a
cause, something worth changing, to change the status quo.  Become the leader and organize a movement
worthy of change.  Change, this is a key
word and something that a presidential candidate used as his platform before he
was elected the 44th President of the United States of America.  He is not talking about anarchy rather change
for the better, a way to become a better society.  The power and ability is there with the
Internet, we just need people to step up and become that leader that empowers others
to do what is best.

An example of this power
is being seen right before our very eyes with the Occupy Wall Street movement,
how many of us are irritated by the mortgage fall out and the bank
bailouts?  Most of us are upset with these
recent transactions.  But who would
consider organizing such a protest to tell others of our thoughts on these
matters?  The internet offers the power
to reach others that have the same ideologies and unite individuals for a
common cause.  Occupy Wall Street is a
classic example of what Godin is talking about; become a leader, organize the
tribes and lead a movement to make a change! We all have it in us, we just have
to be reminded of what can happen when people come together for the common good
of mankind.

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Boomers and Social Media

Recently I read an article from the business section
of the Wall Street Journal titled, Boomers rapid users of social media via smartphones,
the article was based on a Nielsen study.
This was an interesting read for me due to the fact that social media
really is beginning to break through to every generational cohort.  Of course, my parents would not be on that
list as they still have yet to join any social media sites.  Anyway, according to this article, Boomers
use of social media has escalated by 109% in one year! Not to mention those
with an undergraduate or graduate degree are using social networking sites 6%
more than the average user.

The big question here is- what does this mean for marketers
in this new age of marketing their products and services?  Well to start, Boomers are at a time in their
life where they are in a better financial and employment position than other
generations.  Peaking at their net worth,
children graduated, eyeing the joys of retirement, most have a source of
disposable income including vacations, fine dining and enjoying this period of
their life.  Marketers take notice, the
technology hermits have left the cave and ventured into the wilderness and are
ready to see the light, the social media marketing light, that is.  In the past, the average age of social media
users was the highest between 18-35, as of today the continued growth of social
media usage is due to the Boomers acceptance of this new age.  Marketers now can include social media tools
as ways to reach this demographic where in the past, marketers used more
traditional methods such as television, radio and print to reach this
generational cohort.  This group has
taken to Facebook to reunite with people they have not seen in decades, they
use Linkedin to network with other professionals, they read and critique on
Tripadvisor, all of these increase the marketers reach to their target
audience.  Boomers have shown their
acceptance of technology in the past, think about the transformation of how
Boomers have paid for goods and services.
They started with paying by cash, then by check, debit cards, online
banking, and pretty soon paying for these goods and services with their
smartphones!  Amazing.

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