KFC’s Stunt of Following 11 People on Twitter Was Nice, But …

Opinion: A creative idea that creates a buzz is a big win in the short term

Here are six of the 11 Twitter accounts followed by @KFC. Spot a theme?
@KFC

More than one month ago, the KFC social media team made a sly move, following only 11 people—all of the Spice Girls and six guys named Herb, a subtle wink to its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.

Last week, Twitter user @edgette22 picked up on KFC’s creativity and tweeted about it. The internet and media were very impressed.

The tweet was liked more than 700,000 times, retweeted over 315,000 times and an onslaught of articles proclaimed that KFC “won the internet” and that it was “internet gold.”

Ford chief brand officer Musa Tariq even offered the person behind the stunt a job.

The idea was the brainchild of the KFC social media team and agency Wieden+Kennedy (the agency behind the Old Spice Guy). Was it creative? Sure. Did it create a short-term buzz? You bet.

Was it epic and internet gold? Meh, hardly. It was a nice stunt, but from what I can tell, it wasn’t linked to any larger strategy.

So, what is internet gold? While others seem quick to jump at trite, albeit clever tactics, the real winners, as far as I’m concerned, are the brands that are creating deeper engagement, strategies and moves that have a longer-lasting effect.

Here are four things that brands can do to up their social media game:

Customer engagement beyond apologizing to angry customers

The @KFC account primarily responds to complaints by asking people to direct message. There doesn’t seem to be any deeper engagement.

There are several brands that up their game when engaging on Twitter. Corner Bakery Café does a phenomenal job interacting with consumers, engaging consumers with both issues and compliments about their brand.

@Wendys, one of my favorite Twitter accounts, does this as well:

Both Wendy’s and Corner Bakery Café reply with personalized responses to every compliment, question, negative comment and problem, as opposed to canned, generic responses.

Thunderous clap-backs

Wendy’s is the undisputed queen of the clap-backs. It throws its sass at both consumers and other brands. It is creative, and it has developed the perfect balance of fun, shade and putting people in their place in with a lot of humor.

Among its more famous interchanges: A shutdown of Hardee’s so bad that Hardee’s blocked Wendy’s, and a playful rap battle with WingStop.

It also has fun with people who tweet silly questions:

Creating a brand persona

Some brands lend themselves very well to creating personas to speak as the face of their brands.

KFC, with the Colonel, would be a strong contender.

Allstate’s @Mayhem is a winner in this category. The Mayhem campaign carries the persona throughout its social channels and TV and print commercials. While it seems to be on a bit of a hiatus on Twitter right now, the account is on brand and humorously addresses a serious subject.

Another one of my favorite examples of brand persona perfection didn’t even come from the marketing department. When an unauthorized Stranger Things pop-up bar opened in Chicago, the show’s attorney crafted a brilliant cease-and-desist letter in the voice of the Stranger Things universe.

Netflix could have gone off the rails with a sternly worded letter and threats of legal action, but instead made its point while creating a huge social buzz.

Responding to every single tweet—good or bad

@CornerBakery, @AmericanAirlines, @SouthwestAirlines and so many other brands respond to nearly every single tweet. The time and effort this must take is incredible, but it shows their commitment to building one on relationships with their customers.

A creative idea that creates a buzz is a big win in the short term, but longer-term success involves a strong, integrated strategy and the time and resources to continually interact with and build relationships with consumers.

Hope Bertram is the founder of digital and traditional marketing network Digital Megaphone.