Love That Social Media! A Twitter Fan Story

This post is courtesy of AE Mike Fearon (@MDFearon) – a guy always cruising the Twittersphere for free t-shirts and the latest tips on orange soda consumption…

Being in the social media biz, you see some brands that get it and many that don’t. When I’m not being an average PR Joe, I use the tools from my day job to hobnob with some of my favorite companies and brands. I don’t want to email brands. I don’t want to call a customer service line. I just want to send them an @ message on Twitter.

My desire to interact with brands on Twitter makes the platform a great proving ground to separate the social haves from the have-nots. For example, I turned to Twitter when orange soda brand Sunkist started to run a summer 2010 ad campaign promoting its new Solar Fusion flavor and I couldn’t find the product locally. Excited that the brand had a Twitter handle, I initially didn’t notice until after I tweeted at the handle that their last tweet came on October 2, 2009. Orange I mad I couldn’t connect with you on Twitter. For those interested, I never did get to try Solar Fusion…it’s something that will haunt me for the rest of my days.

Another example of a Twitter disappointment is Keystone Light’s lack of a Twitter handle for its newest pitchman Keith Stone. In his adverts, Stone is the coolest Keystone customer offering the smoothest advice on the block. His 30-second sound bites would have made a smooth transition to the 140 character world and, if handled properly, could have given Keystone the Q3-Q4 version of the Old Spice Guy. Instead, I’m just left with a bitter beer face.

However, there is one company that has consistently knocked my social socks off with its efforts to connect with fans on Twitter. In fact, they were recently lauded in an Ad Age piece for their social marketing efforts. That dedication helped Popeye’s Chicken win a national taste test over top rival KFC, but more importantly, made me a fan for life.

It all started in February, Mardi Gras to be exact. The Popeye’s Twitter handle kindly asked fans to retweet a post for the chance to win a t-shirt (no flashing required for these beads). Being a lover of free t-shirts, Mardi Gras and chicken, I obliged and was soon rewarded:

The t-shirt arrived at my house a few days later and I’ve been turning heads ever since (it is one of a kind) but this story is not over…fast forward a few months to planning a monthly team outing…to Popeye’s in Kenmore Square.

Of course I couldn’t visit my favorite chicken chain without representing their colors and coming unannounced:

In a savvy move, Popeye’s responded:

I obliged and provided my dinner photo:

Ultimately, the chain culminated with a request that my picture be used on the Popeye’s Facebook Page and my teammates @agrinavich and @Trochman got involved:

Popeye’s social media team did not spend the entire day on my tweet. It didn’t take hours of strategy sessions to agree on messaging before replying to some nerd talking about wearing a Popeye’s shirt to a team outing (I have a hunch these hours were put in before the Company’s first tweet). In fact, it could be argued that this nerd and his co-workers did most of the heavy lifting – but I wouldn’t want to take credit from a job excellently executed by my friends at Popeye’s. It took three simple steps for Popeye’s social media managers to earn my lifelong loyalty: monitoring, personality and action. Make sure these elements are in your social media plan and who knows, I might make you famous on Twitter and Facebook. 🙂 For a great example of brand/customer interaction, you can follow Popeye’s on Twitter at @PopeyesChicken.

And to Popeye’s, the only thing I love more than your social media is your chicken! You’ve got a friend in me!

12 Responses to “Love That Social Media! A Twitter Fan Story”

  1. 1 Liz Laneri September 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Mike – GREAT example of a brand using Twitter to build fans and maintain brand loyalty. I might actually try Popeye’s now.

    Also…”Orange I mad I couldn’t connect with you on Twitter.” Ha.

  2. 3 Juliette Mutzke September 30, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Awesome post! Really tells the story of how simple (and great!) Twitter is for businesses and fans. Nice work 🙂

    • 4 Mike September 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

      Thanks for reading Juliette – glad you enjoyed it! You’re right, if executed properly, Twitter can be a great way to connect with fans. I hope more brands take it as seriously in the future!

  3. 5 Frank Parker September 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    That is so strange. There are 3 Popeye Chicken restaurants here in Indianapolis but they all closed 2 weeks ago without notice. Went to the first one and it was closed without any kind of notice posted anywhere. Went to the second one – needed my Red Beans and Rice – and it was being demolished. Went to the third and it was also closed.


    • 6 Mike September 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      I have no affiliation with Popeye’s so I can’t say for certain, but the location where we had our team photo was recently closed for renovations. Maybe some of the Indy restaurants are getting upgrades…I’d try to tweet at them.

  4. 7 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen September 30, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    OMG! I couldn’t be a more flattered fowl…keep eatin, and I’ll keep tweetin! Cluck with you soon.

  5. 9 Carter September 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    A feel-good romance for the Internet age–all great stuff. What I like most about this story is the way it demonstrates the right way to build up and empower brand fans. By not treating your initial contact as something to be checked off a list of to-do’s, Popeye’s turned a one-off interaction into a relationship.

    I’d love to see Popeye’s turn the tables on you by proactively reaching out for their next interaction. How would you react if Popeye’s proactively tweeted at you when their store re-opened after renovations? Or if they reached out with a personal invite to sign up for their next contest? It’s incredibly hard to scale to that level of interaction, especially for big companies, but if this post [plus other initiatives from brands like Skittles and Old Spice] shows us anything, there’s value in trying.

  6. 10 Amanda Lehner October 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    This is a great example of how important social media is to maintain customer loyalty! I am currently a student at the University of Kansas and in my strategic communications class we have been discussing the importance of building valuable relationships with customers. As we see with Popeye’s and Old Spice (the new campaign), social media is becoming a very important element for businesses in order to spread product awareness. Without using these channels to build relationships with customers, many businesses will be unable to keep customers loyal and satisfied and will not be successful.

    • 11 Mike October 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      @Amanda – thanks for reading! I’m glad you took something away from this post and that it’s helpful for your education. The only thing I have left to say is “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!”

  7. 12 Bookmakers et minimiser. May 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Trop cool! Je commence de voir ton chronique c’est �l�gant bon !

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