Marketing Sense

A discussion of marketing tools and tactics with a common sense attitude

Friday’s Facebook Campaign – Brilliance or Bust?

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on November 23, 2009

By Colin N. Clarke – Companies have been exploring different means of leveraging social media reach, but the restaurant chain TGI Friday’s took it to a new level with their recent Facebook Fan campaign for fictional spokesperson “Woody.”

What makes this campaign so impressive is how a commercial entity essentially asked for and received permission to advertise to customers on Facebook. By using a free hamburger giveaway via a cleverly executed challenge to reach 500,000 “friends” on Facebook, TGI Friday’s lured customers and potential customers into the heart of the campaign.

Once confirmed as a Facebook “friend,” TGI Friday’s provided a series of entertaining and engaging status updates, video posts and discussions. All talking about the free hamburger giveaway while effortlessly pumping up top of mind awareness for the TGI Friday’s brand.

The commercial components to the campaign are brilliant. The registration process required to become eligible for a free hamburger took registrants through a relatively detailed list of questions. So while us “friends” were gleefully sharing our information for a free burger, TGI Friday’s was building a detailed database of potential customers with information provided via registration as well approved access to our Facebook information. The level of information shared and the careful detail by which TGI Friday’s built and executed the campaign is simply brilliant. A commercial entity had successfully pierced the personal veil of social media and built a fan base of more than 950,000 “friends” in the process.

But the story does not end there, and this is where the greatest lesson of social media comes to light. When you make a promise to your friends in a public forum, you had better follow through or risk your own public humiliation.

At the time I am writing this blog we are in the heart of redemption week for TGI Friday’s free hamburgers and their nearly 1 million fans. And the redemption process is brutal. A visit to the Discussions tab on Facebook Fan page shows a myriad of angry comments from unruly fans who have been wholly turned off by the difficulty of the redemption process. And the anger doesn’t stop there. On recent fan posts the negative comments are flowing at a rate of 5-to-1 (negative to positive). It appears that the true nature of social media may have caught up with TGI Fridays – the fact that conversation happens, both good and bad.

So what lessons have we learned from this groundbreaking social media campaign?

1) Provide a reasonable reward or offer – the “fans” loved the idea of a free burger meal.

2) Be entertaining – the Woody campaign is clever, fun, engaging and ran across multiple media.

3) Build excitement– the “challenge” to reach 500,000 fans built camaraderie and encouragement.

4) Encourage conversation– each new Facebook post lead fans to engagement and conversation.

5) FULFILL YOUR PROMISE – follow through and have friends for life, fail expectations and ???

It remains to be seen how TGI Friday’s will manage their reward redemption nightmare. So far on Facebook, it’s looking pretty ugly. Lots of comments of people feeling used, betrayed and planning to boycott the restaurant now. And fans have now started their own Woody Complaints Facebook page. Not what TGI Friday’s intended when they started the campaign. BUT… with all things social, Friday’s can still engage positively in the conversation and make things right with their 1 million new “friends.” It will be interesting to see how this campaign comes to a close.

So, did you get your burger?

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