Say this three times: Will there be a repeat or a retreat on the retweet? No prize, however.
Much of the marketing done on Twitter is subtle and unseen. It takes place through regular tweets of interesting news, through retweets of other people’s contributions, and through comments addressed to followers. It’s a process of constant engagement which should keep a market close, informed and likely to buy from you — rather than a competitor — when the time comes to make a purchase.
Some uses of Twitter though are far from subtle. The sponsored placements in trending topics and at the top of timelines are meant to be unobtrusive but they’re always a bit pushy. They get eyeballs, might win clicks and may deliver sales but viewers know they are seeing advertising.
This year, Wendy’s, the fast food chain, took two approaches to marketing on Twitter: one subtle and the other bold.
The subtle campaign, which was run by ad agency the Kaplan Thaler Group, just came to an end. Using an account called @GirlBehindSix, the company ran a Twitter-based game show with prizes that began with $1,000 to six followers who retweeted the rules, then ran through mopeds, sleeping bags, turntables and host of other expensive goodies. The aim was to raise awareness of a new burger that would take sixth place on the chain’s menu.
Within about a month, the timeline had picked up 33,000 followers. In mid-November, it revealed its true identity and has since been trying to shift those followers over to Wendy’s timeline by promising more prizes over in that timeline.
I want you to keep reading, so I am inserting this picture of Wendy herself to keep you interested:
But I digress…
As that stealth campaign was coming to an end, Twitter announced that the chain had won the Golden Tweet Award for the most retweeted post. The tweet? “RT for a good cause. Each retweet sends 50¢ to help kids in foster care. #TreatItFwd”
That was a pretty blatant piece of advertising. It was essentially a bribe offered to Twitter’s community to spread the name of the company across the site. The original tweet was sent on June 15th, and although Wendy’s has not said how many retweets it received, the campaign has been reported as raising $50,000 for charity which would translate into 100,000 posts.
So that is two different campaigns: one complex and subtle, the other simple and direct. Both had an impact and both worked… at least as far as winning followers and views are concerned.
The real question, of course, is whether those views translated into sales and whether those sales more than made up for the cost of the campaign. $50,000 is not a small sum but not all of those who saw it would have retweeted the post, making the cost per viewer a fraction of 50 cents each. If a typical customer spends $10 in Wendy’s then the company would need that campaign to produce 5,000 extra sales — 5 percent of the 100,000 people who retweeted or perhaps half a percent of all the people who saw Wendy’s name in other people’s timelines and didn’t retweet. That sounds feasible, and it doesn’t include the halo (and the tax deduction) that the company gains from donating money to charity.
The game show campaign may have cost a similar amount in prizes alone. Again, we don’t have figures that show whether it paid its way but not all of @GirlBehindSix’s followers have moved to Wendy’s timeline and some were no doubt put off by the campaign’s stealthy approach.
The campaign was clever and complex — as you would expect from an ad agency — but whether it was more effective than simply bribing Twitter followers with a charitable donation is questionable.
But, then again, I only eat their chili, so what do I know?