At the end of the campaign in May 2013 Burger King Norway nearly lost 30.000 Facebook fans, only a minority got a Big-Mac. Their new FB-Fanpage started with round about 8.500 loyal fans and had an increased engagement, which was five times higher than before and much more positive. Currently they have 10.500 fans on Facebook and 1.500 fans "are speaking" about them. The agency who was running the campaign declared "Whopper Sellout" as a success and when I saw the positive reactions on this campaign on FB, G+ and Twitter, my first thoughts were that it was a radical way, but worked well.
After reflecting the strategy I switched my opinion and think that the campaign wasn't clever. Why?
1. Critical Feedback
If people are posting complaints or negative feedback on your Facebook-Fanpage, you should react to find out the reason for their critical comments. If a person is just trolling and spamming, you can delete the bad posts manually and try to get the account banned. If your Fanpage has million of fans, it's not easy to react on all comments and it takes more or less time - but if you're a big player and want to be big in Social Media, you have to deal with it. Cutting off the fanbase and reducing it to loyal fans is obviously helpful to get more in touch with the real fans and the handling of the community becomes more easily.
2. Short-term approach
But (sometimes) Social Media isn't easy to handle and it's not an exclusive and closed circle. If you ban people from your page, they easily might come up with a new account an hour later. As far as you give a public access for interaction and communication to your community, they will use it and if they want to post critical comments, they are allowed to. If the quality of the comments is very low and people feel free to troll, of course this isn't helpful.
As I learned from systems theory and complexity management you won't fix the problem, if you don't get to the source. That's why the" Whopper-Sellout" campaign isn't a solution for a problem, it's just a short-term approach to limit the damage. The question is why people post critical comments and just beg for free burgers?
3. Quality matters
Burger King sells fast food, which is low quality food in my view, for low prices. If you sell over the price, quantity matters and you'll try to increase your sales. That's also one reason why Burger King and McDonald's regularly run promotions and spread coupons. Against this background it's not surprising for me that some of Burger King's fans interact in a low way with them and beg for (more) free giveaways.
4. Content matters
On the one hand you have people posting critical comments and on the other hand your loyal fanbase isn't active enough. Well, as people are nearly free to post what they want, they also can choose whether they are active or not. A lot of people don't comment or like posts, but they regularly check out what's going on - so they are "passive" consumers, but far away from beeing non-loyal. If you want to have more positive interaction with your fanbase and more engagement with your fans, you need to reach and activate your fans via attractive content and ad-support.
5. Use Social Media
Chasing non-loyal or less engaged fans by giving them the choice to get banned, won't help to create fans and customers in a long term. Instead of bumping 30.000 fans, it would be much wiser to use this large community.
Instead of banning former fans for eternity, Burger Kind could have launched two Fanpages. One Fanpage for the loyal fans and the other for critical fans, for example: "Why Burger King isn't King". If it's possible to like only one of the Fanpages, people have to decide which page they choose and reflect what kind of fan they are. Referring to the free giveaway action, Burger King could also spend some free burgers to support the engagement, for example some Whoppers for the Burger King fans and some Big-Macs for the other community.
If this works, you have two communities: one loyal and one critical. This gives you the opportunity to interact with fans as well as with non-fans, who might become fans in a long term. On the controversial Fanpage will be a lot of negative feedback and complaints, but this is also content you can work with and the chance to convince these critics. If people have the perception that McDonalds tastes better, invite them for example to taste testings and blind tastings and play with their arguments. If a lot of people mention that "Burger King sucks", you should think about your image instead of ignoring or negating it. Humor combined with self-irony also might help to get in touch with the critical community.
Social Media is a great chance to communicate with humans and to get an impression of their attitudes and feelings. Of course there are some trolls and giveaway-collectors out there, but I think that the 30.000 people Burger King Norway lost, were not only trolls and spammers. If so, the majority of their old fanbase was useless, which again points out a failed strategy in the past. However, it's an alarming fact for Burger King Norway that nearly 80% of their so called fans appreciated a free burger more, than their relationship to Burger King and it's a failure not to use Social Media to change this.
Social Media comes alive with communication and interaction. Having critical fans is natural and a chance for companies to make something better. Banning non-loyal fans for lifetime, because they have chosen a product from a competitor, doesn't help to convince non-fans to become fans - it only pushes them forward to your competitor. In my view this kind of Marketing is a relic of oldschool mentality. An alternative and more innovative approach would have involved the non-loyal fans with the intent to convince them over a longer period. Using Social Media for this challenging task is not an easy job, but it's a great chance to show fans and non-fans openness and understanding for their concerns and desires. This is what I expect from a modern company and not building up walls for eternity.
What do you think, was Burger King's "Whopper Sellout" campaign a success or a disaster?
Categories: Social Media - Facebook - Strategy || Author: Christian Prochel