Our Tweets are as Fresh as our Beef. The Story of the Wendy’s Twitter Account.
Social media has become a driving force in the corporate world. Companies these days are moving away from print and TV ads and instead investing in things like YouTube ads and Social media posts. A lot of companies and organizations have been doing an amazing job at correctly marketing to their consumer demographic using social media. A few examples have included the Oreo Super Bowl Blackout ad, the Twitter account of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team, I mean who could possibly forget MoonPie’s antics during the solar eclipse last August. Companies like eBay have gotten praise from the millennial communities for their posts on the social media platform Imgur, while even the legendary chef himself Gordon Ramsay has been able to use Twitter to help his brand. However, all that being said there is still one company that rules them all. One company who took social media and changed the way people interacted with a company, and it only started because some kid named Carter wanted free nuggets. Yes, that’s right the mother of all companies on social media is Wendy’s.
Back in May of 2017, a boy named Carter send out the infamous tweet “Yo @wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets” normally companies don’t respond to this kind of nonsense but Wendy’s, Wendy’s did. They replied with what they thought was an astronomical number for some with like 10 followers, they responded with “18 Million”. Knowing the state of the internet a satirical account called #NuggsforCarter was started to try and get this kid his one year of free nuggets, Carter surprisingly didn’t pass retweet goal but Wendy’s still made good on their promise and sent him a year of free nuggets. This incident prompted other people to tweet at Wendy’s and see if they’d respond. Sure enough they did, they did in an amazing way that has catapulted the fast food chain into the spotlight.
Here are a few classic Wendy’s roasts, “@Wendy’s what should I get from MacDonalds???”…“Directions to the nearest Wendy’s”. Another timeless classic being, “Waiting for @Wendy’s to roast me”… “Turn your hat around you aren’t Bart Simpson and it isn’t 1997”. It is safe to say people were taken back by outright sass Wendy’s was dishing out to other twitter users and even other companies. Wendy’s even went as far as getting blocked by Hardee’s for calling their 6 for 5 meal deal a ripoff of Wendy’s 5 for 5 meal deal. The great thing about this is how the social media team at the company took a rather melancholy and boring fast food chain and turned into a global phenomenon to the point where everyone is trying to get a piece of the action in any way they can.
Why has this become such a global phenomenon? Well it’s because of a number of reasons and that’s what I will be diving into. As is stands right now Wendy’s has:
2.5 Million Twitter followers
731,000 Instagram followers
8.5 Million Facebook followers
While obviously it’s clear most companies have a huge following on Facebook, not very many companies can say they have a popular Twitter account. Before this all started Wendy’s had around 1.2 million followers, that number has almost doubled. What makes Wendy’s account incredible is that people follow Wendy’s to stay up to date with their roasts, but it still means they are being exposed to their advertising. They will pop up in people timelines and it will fulfill the goal Wendy’s was trying to accomplish, “expose out brand to the target market of millennials”. Since the Twitter account became famous Wendy’s experienced a massive rise in likes, mentions and shares, while it may not have experienced a rise in sales they wanted. Their overall brand and social media presence skyrocketed and in 2018 that means almost as much as sales do.
The Wendy’s Twitter team did an AMA on Reddit where they answered some pressing questions from the public. What Wendy’s divulged was the fact that corporate doesn’t interfere too much with their tweeting with one exception. Here is their response “We don’t get approval for everything, but definitely for some stuff, the McDonald’s tweets generally need approval”. This statement speaks wonders for social media freedom most companies give their employees, it shows the power that social media can take on a company. I think while other companies could benefit from the approach, no other company can be culturally cemented as a meme. Wendy’s was the meme of the month back in May of 2017 and any company that takes a similar sassy strategy will most likely get crucified by the masses on the internet.
Wendy’s escapades have even directly involved their competitors. McDonald’s, Arby’s, Burger King and Hardee’s have all felt the wrath of the Wendy’s Twitter team. McDonald’s and Wendy’s were famous for their Twitter beef over ironically enough their actual beef. McDonalds’s tweeted out a status mentioning how they will be phasing out frozen beef in their burgers by mid-2018… at a “majority” of their restaurants. So Wendy’s most eloquently replied with the following “So you still use frozen beef in MOST of your burgers in ALL your restaurants? Asking for a friend.” This sent shockwaves through the Twitter world since Wendy’s finally had the balls to go after the god (and the grossest) of all fast food chains good old Mickey D’s themselves. It’s moments like these that the big CEOs up in corporate love well unless you’re the McDonald’s CEO. Sadly, Wendy’s utilization of this tactic came at a time where the fast food market in the US was being saturated with places like Subway, Chipotle and McDonald’s constantly opening up new restaurants. It helped soften the blow, but Wendy’s still lost 100 Million in sales in 2017 compared to their 2016 numbers. As mentioned earlier their sales did go up but it sadly wasn’t enough to save them from losses in an overly saturated market.
Since Wendy’s sent shockwaves through the internet last year, what has become of the chain? Well it seems like as of April 2018, it’s all business as usual for the chain. Their Twitter account still does clapbacks from time to time but it has seemed to go back to being just a standard run of the mill account. They still post memes and other funny and satirical posts from time to time but nowhere close to the amount they were doing in 2017. From just looking at their recent activity one thing is clear, fan engagement has gone up substantially. People are constantly tweeting at Wendy’s and the company is responding back… a little less sassy that it used to be.
However as of late Billboard decided to have a little fun with Wendy’s. During the BMAs they sent a few tweets to Wendy’s asking them such things as what rappers they would collab with, what their inspiration was to write the McDonald’s diss track and finally they asked if they would ever consider a collab with Hamburger Helper to create another mixtape. That’s another thing Wendy’s create a diss track on McDonald’s called “Rest in Grease” their fans even managed to get it into Spotify’s top 50. A feat rarely accomplished by a fast food chain I might add. While sales didn’t reach expectations, I don’t think it matters too much. We live in an era where social media impressions are almost worth just as much as money and the global reach social media can give you has been proven to boost sales but it all just takes time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the long term benefits to the increased social media exposure will help Wendy’s not lose 100 million in sales in 2018.
They say that imitation is sincerest form of flattery (or the laziest form of creation depending on who you ask) and plenty of people have embraced Wendy’s twitter clap backs. One of the biggest offenders being the account I mentioned earlier. That of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. They have taken the NHL world by storm by essentially copying Wendy’s format and starting some serious beef with the other teams in the league. The LA Kings are a known target of their Twitter tirades. Old Spice has gotten into the action with their beef with Taco Bell, you know the one I’m talking about. Whole Foods has been roasting people on Twitter and the Wendy’s phenomenon has even reached international levels. Companies like Royal Mail and TESCO have been champions on social media across the pond in the UK. I mentioned MoonPie earlier, well their Twitter escapades last year brought them into the spot light after their beef with a user named Kayla… er Kaela. If there is one thing that be learned from all of this beef is that 1. Wendy’s has the freshest and 2. Once a trend is started everyone will jump on board trying to get a juicy piece of the action. That is sadly what ends up killing a meme and killing its momentum.
All in all, what should Wendy’s do know? The short answer is nothing. They had their moment in the spotlight and reaped the benefits of it. Some companies might have leeched off of it but it still didn’t create the same success as Wendy’s did. If a company wants to reach a positive level of meme status like Wendy’s, it will need to come up with something fresh and new and not be a colossal screw up like all the McDonald’s memes out there. They will need to bring something to the table, something meme worthy and embrace it. Embracing the meme is only way you way you can truly rule the world for about a month in 2018’s meme centric culture. Who will be next? Burger King? Charmin? SPAM? Well only the internet knows and the internet doesn’t tell.
Photos Courtesy of Google Images
Graph Courtesy of Brogan.com
Social media marketing nerds got an early Christmas present Thursday, as Wendy's Twitter account sat down for a Reddit…www.adweek.com