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Major fast food chains, most notably Wendy’s and Arby’s, have been getting a lot of attention lately for their social media marketing strategies. Wendy’s is funny and sometimes snarky toward their competition, while Arby’s speaks to gamers and “nerds.” But what is it about these strategies that are so effective? Have both companies come up with something new and unique, or are tried and true marketing principles at work here?  Even more importantly, can these strategies and techniques be used in other businesses and marketing efforts? Let’s take and look and find out.

Wendy’s: An Example in Transparency and Responsiveness

While Wendy’s sassy posts get media attention, it is their responsiveness to customers that is the most impressive aspect of their social media strategy. This is also the part of their strategy that should be analyzed and implemented by social media marketing professionals regardless of industry.

Wendy’s responds to messages, including complaints, in a prompt and professional way. If you scroll through their Facebook page you will see many comments, both positive and negative. Negative messages are not hidden from view or filtered out. Wendy’s replies and offers solutions to negative messages and provides polite and cheerful thanks for positive ones. This in turn creates trust and shows honesty and transparency.


The Takeaway: Be Social on Social Media

Social media is exactly that, social. If you want to have a successful brand you have to talk to your customers. Post regularly and provide useful content. Answer questions, respond to both positive and negative reviews, and try to make things right. Learn from your customers.

If you visit a Facebook page and there are questions that haven’t been answered in weeks or months, what does that say about the business? Can you imagine if a business didn’t answer the phone or take a customer’s call? Not answering social media questions sends the message that the business doesn’t have time to help their customers. While this is rarely a business’s intention, appearance is reality.

Arby’s: Connecting with Their Target Audience

If you compare Arby’s “We Have the Meats” TV campaign to their online strategy you’ll see remarkable differences. Arby’s understands that their online and television audiences are different. Regular TV watchers are on average 10 to 20 years older than those targeted on social media. Arby’s understands how to target their message to their intended audience. TV ads are geared toward meat loving, carnivore dad types, while social media targets anime and video game loving millennials who consider themselves nerds.

Arby’s also understands that fast food is less popular among millennials than it has been with previous generations. Their solution: speak to millennials in their own language. Arby’s posts tend to reference anime, video games, movies, and pop culture, but in a way that comes across as authentic. This is important to remember as anything which is not authentic comes across as pandering and will not be well received.

Posts from Arby’s are more about social interaction and connection than with hard selling. Their underlying message seems to be we understand you, we like what you like, and we want to build a relationship with you. Arby’s has transformed from a struggling roast beef restaurant chain into a growing franchise with young, loyal customers and a much more diverse menu.

The Takeaway: Connect with Your Audience and Build Relationships

In a competitive market where many businesses provide similar services, you can set yourself apart by building effective relationships with your customers. In order to do this, however, you must know your customers, as well as how to speak to them. If your target market is millennials, understand millennials and find common ground. Likewise, if your target customers are seniors, find common ground with them and build relationships with them as well.

There is much we can learn from fast food companies such as Wendy’s and Arby’s. The principles underlying their marketing strategy can be used in any industry and in any form of marketing.

Regardless of the type of business, responsiveness is an important key. Can you imagine not answering your business’s phone when it rings? Then why would you not respond to a customer question on social media? Aren’t they the same basic thing?

Also, know your customer. Know who you are targeting and find common ground. Search for it and utilize it to build effective relationships with your customers. Following the examples of both Wendy’s and Arby’s can help all marketers, regardless of industry, understand how to implement an effective social media marketing strategy.

Matt Ramage has been marketing websites for over 20 years. He loves helping businesses improve their user experience and searchability on the Internet. Matt now heads Emarketed which is located in Los Angeles, California. They specialize in SEO, social media marketing and web development.

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