Beyond PR

Nov 11, 2011

It’s Fryday! (Lessons learned from #frenchfries)

Today is Fryday - a national promotion from McDonald's, derived from social media intel.

Social media monitoring is something we all know we should be doing, but winnowing out the signals from the noise can be difficult, and beyond that, figuring out what to do with the resulting data can also be a challenge.   To be successful, an organization needs to be agile – its business processes need to be able to ingest the data and recalibrate communications on the fly.


That last sentence in can sound pretty daunting.  Business processes, ingesting data, recalibrating communications … at this point many folks are inclined to think “that’s for other companies, we simply can’t do that…” and turn quietly away. Fact is,  listening isn’t so hard, it can be done by any organization for little to no money, the changes can be incremental, and in order to be successfull, all you really need to do is pay attention, and use what you learn.

I heard a great example of this from Heather Oldani of McDonald’s earlier this week at PR Newswire’s Social Content Leadership Forum in Chicago.   McDonald’s has real traction in social networks, and they’re paying attention to online conversations and building relationships with different communities and constituents.  Conversations encompass everything from environmental, parenting and nutritional topics to tracking national availability of the McRib to discussions around menu innovations, such as Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and apple slices in Happy Meals.   Conversations ebb and flow, but the McD’s team has noticed a constant.

In less than an hour, McDonald's Facebook post had garnered thousands of likes, shares and comments.

“French fries are social,” Heather noted.   Topics and issues may come and go, but people love McDonald’s fries, and they talk about that devotion online.

Now, in the grand scheme of McDonald’s menus, the fries are certainly a lynchpin, but they aren’t the headliner.  New sandwiches, salads and coffee drinks steal the headlines and are the focus of the company’s menu-oriented promotions.

But because McDonald’s was paying attention, they realized that there was more lasting, ongoing enthusiasm for fries than for pretty much any other menu item, unless you’re this guy:

Bet he likes fries, too. #fryday

But I digress.

McDonald’s realized it had a unique opportunity with the approach of Friday, 11/11/11 – an aesthetically very French-fry appropriate date.  Using the palindrome as a hook , McDonald’s developed the Fryday promotion, offering fries for $.50 today.

In the Chicago area, McDonald’s is using billboards to promote Fryday, but true to the roots of the promotion, a lot of activity is happening on social networks, too.  The company’s Twitter team (follow them @McDonalds) is chatting up the deal online, and several franchisors are also getting into the game.   The Twitter hashtag #fryday is busy and the McDonalds New York Tri-State Area Restaurants have created a check in for the promotion on Four Square.  Is the suggestion of hot, crispy, salty fries powerful enough to get people in the door?

My guess is the answer is yes.   Not bad for a little promotion derived from simply paying attention to what people are talking about online.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

1 Comments on Blog Post Title

mike 13:15 EST on Dec 20, 2011

It never surprises me what they will do to get your attention. They keep coming up with different ways to keep you mind on them, even thou when anyone thinks fast food McDonalds is the first thing people think about

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