Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

McDonald’s, Starbucks, Just Eat and Pizza Rosa / Are you making productive use of social media? / Jeanette Carlsson, CEO, @newmedia2.0 Ltd

Are you making the most of social media? 7 in 10 UK adults log into their social media accounts every day, according to Ofcom. According to eMarketer, by next year (2015), more than half of those using a mobile phone will access social networks on their mobile devices.

Whereas in the past hospitality and leisure companies would advertise in (local) newspapers or through expensive TV adverts, today, (mobile) social media provides new opportunities – and is vital – for marketing and customer engagement on a much more personal level. Whether you run a local pub, bar, catering company, hotel, international coffee shop or restaurant chain, social media can add real value to your business – if done right.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing to build brand awareness is the most obvious application of social media but by no means the only one. Social media opens up new ways to attract new customers and/or interact with existing customers in real-time, through two-way communications, with the added benefit of providing ‘free’ insights into what customers think, how they behave, their needs, tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes, who their friends are and what they think of your company and services, which can help you improve your customer service or develop new products – directly or indirectly – with your customers’ help. Think co-creation.

Take Starbucks

While using social networks like Facebook and Twitter for brand marketing, advertising and customer engagement, Starbucks has also used social media very effectively as platforms for product co-creation and to drive customers into their coffee shops. – Starbucks’ online community where users can share, vote for and discuss new ideas – which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this Spring – has generated more than 150,000 ideas from customers, leading to the implementation of 277 new innovations for Starbucks.

The result: today, customers can walk into a Starbucks and order a “skinny” beverage, new flavours of Frappuccino, receive digital rewards for using their Starbucks customer loyalty card, or enjoy a free pastry on ‘Free Pastry Day,’ an idea created by Starbucks customers to drive customers into their shops, resulting in over 1 million extra customers buying coffee to claim their free pastry.  Powerful way to increase sales or…?

As illustrated by the infographic, for Starbucks, Social media has not only contributed new product ideas and driven sales but also delivered great customer and brand engagement.


McDonald’s is another example of a global (fast) food company that has made great use of social media.  McDonald’s tends to relate its social media marketing to events in their customers’ lives – when university students move into halls to start university, McDonald’s sends out messages via their social media pages, encouraging students to share a box of chicken nuggets with their new housemates. Basic marketing? Yes. Some argue that McDonald’s’ social media strategy is indeed basic, but it’s clearly working:

McDonald’s is present on all key social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc.) and uses social media in many ways beyond basic marketing and advertising, engaging users around the globe in continuous two-way conversations, re-tweeting their content and opinions and so on, showing users that their engagement with the brand is noticed and valued.

The result: McDonald’s has over thirty million Facebook ‘likes’ and 2.28 million Twitter followers with a brand logo that’s recognized by 88% of people polled in a recent survey.

It pays to engage with your customers!

So that the example doesn’t sound like a McDonald’s advert, we are talking about a brand that attracts continuous criticism from health professionals, governments and campaign groups. McDonald’s social media advertising faces countless problems with criticism with sarcastic or amusing comments frequently being added to their social media feeds. The point is: it pays to engage with your customers!

And you don’t have to be a global coffee shop or fast food brand to drive value from social media.

Just Eat

Just Eat – the fast-growing online takeaway ordering service founded in Denmark in 2000 – has been in the news recently with its stock market flotation. What hasn’t gone unnoticed either is the company’s social media approach.

When Just Eat first set up its Facebook page, it was inundated with customer complaints, many of which were posted out of working hours and went unanswered. Just Eat saw the problem and addressed it by giving its customer service team access to its Facebook page to resolve the customer complaints. Point being made: social media is a two-way channel that requires responsiveness – and never sleeps.

From the point of view of value add, Just Eat claims that for them social media is not about driving orders. The objective, they say, is to reinforce their brand values and provide customers with entertainment that engages them.

Pizza Rosa

Pizza Rosa – a new entrant in the ‘grab-and-go’ market – has used social media – or equity based crowd-funding to be specific – to fund 157% of the capital they needed to launch, in less than half the time envisaged, breaking the European record for a start-up.

At the local level, pubs, cafes and delis are increasingly using social media to feature events, invite suggestions for new events or menus or to recruit staff, by publishing job adverts straight from their social media profiles, scouting for talent in industry-related social media groups and so on, demonstrating a growing understanding of the need to communicate with target customers and audiences where they are – on social media, quite possibly on the move.

Planning your social media strategy

So, if you are not already using social media in some way, you need to. The question is where do you start?

The answer is:  think carefully about what you want to achieve – advertising, brand marketing, customer acquisition, engagement, direct sales, ideas for product development, recruit staff or even raise finance.

When you have defined a clear goal, you can start planning – and social media activities require planning – bearing in mind that whatever you say, you are likely to get a reply and be expected to respond just like a face-to-face conversation. So don’t get caught out.

With your goal in mind, think about who you want to reach – your target audience. Be specific, not general. The world has moved beyond basic demographics. What is the profile of your typical (loyal) customer? Invest in knowing who your customers are. Once you know that, you know who to target to get even more loyal customers.

Then, think about what you want to say to them – your message? Then choose your social media channel – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked-in, YouTube, Vimeo, industry blogs? Where do your loyal/typical customers ‘hang out’?

Once you have that, choose your content – exciting text, images, videos – and get your audience to contribute some too – they want to get involved. Social media is all about engaging, contributing and sharing.

Invite your customers to share photos from their last quiz night in your pub or tweet their favourite dish from your restaurant menu, share photos from their wedding which you provided catering for, a great stay in your hotel or experience with your products.

Your customers will have great user-generated content that can help you market your business. What better way to sell your services than get your customers to do it, so engage them! If they love what you do, the more you engage them, the greater their loyalty and likelihood that they will invite their friends too (aka become your brand advocates and help you acquire new customers).

You can run competitions, invite drinkers to a quiz night in your pub, suggested routes for a pub crawl or ideas for your menu, and draw the winners in your physical location (pub, bar, restaurant) thereby driving traffic to your outlet and increase sales through social media – just like Starbucks.

Measuring the results

And don’t forget to measure the results whether increased brand recognition, customer acquisition, engagement, satisfaction, loyalty, key influencers, new product ideas, increased sales, staff recruitment and so on.

This will help you understand not only the return on your social media investment but also what is working/not working on social media for you, so you can make continuous improvements.

Start small and learn as you go. Social media presents a unique opportunity to listen and learn from your customers without having to make a major investment. But be warned; whilst social media is ‘free’ to start with, once you have dipped your toes in, there is no turning back. You have to engage with your customers, who have started to engage with you or things may backfire. There are plenty of examples out there of companies that have learnt painful social media lessons – customers getting frustrated with not getting replies and telling the world, brands inviting praise, only to get criticism and so on.

Invest in a social media expert who can manage your communications – and get your staff to add (agreed) content to your Facebook page and tweet – the likelihood is they are using social media in their personal lives already, so know what to do.

Key point to remember

Social media has the potential to deliver great results as we have seen. However, social media is not a quick fix or stand-alone channel but should be part of an integrated business and (digital) marketing strategy, which requires planning and execution just like any other business initiative.

Companies that achieve success with social media and multi-channel initiatives generally do so because they find innovative and compelling ways to engage and excite their customers across (integrated) digital and offline channels.

If you would like to talk some more or get help with your social media strategy, then please get in touch.

The author is Jeanette Carlsson, CEO, @newmedia2.0 Ltd.

Jeanette can be contacted at or via

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newmedia2.0 are sponsors of the H&C News Social Media Roundtable being held at the citizenM Hotel, London Bankside on 4th February 2015