What do crispy french fries have to do with Social Media done right?

What do crispy french fries have to do with Social Media done right?  


There’s a small restaurant by our house in San Diego that serves great french fries. They have the right ratio of crunch to fluff, come well seasoned, and pair well with the local blood orange IPA on tap. As someone who enjoys food, I have a deep appreciation for their fries.   As a marketer, however, I love how they use those fries to get social media right.

And it is super simple too: to get a free portion of these fabulous fries, all you have to do is check into the restaurant on Facebook.

Why is this doing it right?  In a word, reach.   Instagram posting

Social Media is a great way to expand your reach. But it’s getting tougher. A recent study by Ogilvy estimates organic reach to your fans may be as low as 2%. And on top of that, Facebook recently came out and announced they are going to start prioritizing friend content over brand.

But back to our restaurant. They have ~1200 followers on Facebook. Using the estimates above, this means that their reach per organic post may be as low as 25 people.

So how do the fries help? Consider this: We go there to lunch with our neighbors about once a month. Both my wife and our neighbor Maria have over 1,000 Facebook friends each. They each check-in every time to get the fries. With Facebook now prioritizing content from friends (or so they say), let’s conservatively assume a 20% reach.  That reach would be roughy 400 people, or 8X the organic reach.

And to a potential new audience.

For about $2.

Why is this so smart, besides the $2 cost?

  • It reaches a broader and potentially new audience than their current following
  • The post comes from a friend, not the business itself, so according to Facebook this will get more reach than an organic post –C2C not B2C!
  • A friends recommendation or action carries more weight than a brand’s
  • It has the added benefit of engendering loyalty among the locals (who doesn’t love free fries?) for a pretty small cost.
  • It is both simple to execute and evergreen, meaning new content doesn’t need to be generated to keep up with the calendar.

While anecdotal, at least 3-4 times this past year friends of ours have commented to us that the restaurant “must be really great as you guys always go there.”

Point is, social media is at its most powerful when people are talking (good & bad things) about your brand. Not you talking to your followers.

What can you do?

Every case is different, but consider the following:

  • How can you reach not your audience, but the audience of the people you interact with?
  • Is it a real incentive (crunchy fries!) or a $1 discount nobody will ever use? It has to be tangible.
  • Real specials.  The ‘in the know” club.  Exclusivity. There are a lot of options but you have to add value.
  • Tapping into existing behaviors or trends (I like eating good french fries)
  • Rewarding that behavior (I love eating good french fries that are free)
  • Keep It Simple Silly or Stupidly Simple

The bottom line, Social is fueled by consumer to consumer interaction, not brand to consumer.  Find a way to feed the conversation and expand your reach rather than simply trying to follow a calendar.


Greg Haines is VP of Marketing at DesignStudio.com, an agency in downtown San Diego that helps companies with Digital Marketing, User Experience and Web Design.


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