Being Wendy’s: the Risk and Reward of Going Rogue on Social Media

— March 22, 2017

What’s happening with Wendy’s Twitter?

Wendy’s kicked off 2017 with a bold move. After a Twitter user challenged the age-old tagline that Wendy’s beef is fresh and never frozen, the fast food chain shifted the tone of its replies from friendly to sassy with one tweet. Since that fateful day, Wendy’s has gone fully rogue and started calling out customers who have a complaint.

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Why are they doing that?

Sounds like this decision definitely should not be boosting Wendy’s brand equity, right? But this tactic has gained Wendy’s an outpouring of earned media, inspiring countless reaction videos and ranked listicles featuring the restaurant’s quippy replies.

By redefining its voice, Wendy’s found an unexpected way to cut through the clutter and noise of corporate Twitter. Unlike its competitors’ predictable tweets that offer to take the conversation to a less public platform, Wendy’s wants to engage here and now. That’s refreshing for customers who feel that organizations’ social media platforms are disingenuous.

Could my brand do that?

Here’s where things get tricky. Wendy’s success with this approach to community management lies in: 1) its humor and 2) its customers’ expectations. In an interview with Simply Measured, Wendy’s social media manager Amy Brown described Wendy’s voice as a “challenger with charm.” Even the brand’s most cutting responses are still obviously in good humor. But if your customers expect you to maintain a certain level of professionalism, the sudden transition to a sassy social media strategy could definitely backfire.

Our advice is to think about your audience, always. Look at the kind of posts your customers are engaging with, identify the undercurrent of emotion behind them, and try to capture that in your interactions. Don’t forget that social media is about having a real conversation, even when you’re representing a brand.

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