IHOP wasn’t the only organization to recently savor sweet marketing victory.
Following the restaurant chain formerly known as IHOP’s announcement that the “b” in its new moniker stood for “burgers,” social media users had a field day tweeting jokes and poking fun at the marketing effort.
It didn’t take long for other fast-food brands to chime in, but the biggest consumer reaction came after Burger King quietly changed its name to “Pancake King” on Twitter and Facebook:
Burger King even replaced its cover photo on both profiles with an image of its flapjacks.
… Burger King does in fact serve pancakes for breakfast, but the dish is by no means what the chain is known for—as is certainly the case for the burgers at the establishment formerly known as IHOP.
Here are four takeaways from the recent buzz about pancakes, burgers and outstanding marketing moves:
1. Snark works, if it fits your brand voice and target demographic.
Several restaurant and fast-food chains, including A&W, Wendy’s, White Castle and Whataburger jumped into the trending conversation over IHOP’s new name:
Inspired by the International House of Burgers announcement, we are also changing our name (Please do not ask what it means — we don’t know either.) pic.twitter.com/0HPQtQirHn
— A&W Restaurants (@awrestaurants) June 11, 2018
As much as we love our pancakes, we’d never change our name to Whatapancake
— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) June 11, 2018
We are excited to announce that we will be switching our name to Pancake Castle.
— White Castle (@WhiteCastle) June 11, 2018
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Social media managers for food products such as Steak-umm also took part:
we have officially changed our name to Cake-umm because Steak-umm just wasn’t doing it for us anymore or something
— Steak-umm (@steak_umm) June 11, 2018
Wendy’s, Moon Pie and Waffle House threw shade without mentioning pancakes:
Remember when you were like 7 and thought changing your name to Thunder BearSword would be super cool?
Like that, but our cheeseburgers are still better.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) June 11, 2018
We’ve worked really hard for like 100 years to get people to remember our brand name so if it’s cool with everyone we’re just going to stick with MoonPie thank you
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) June 11, 2018
Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity. – Bruce Lee
— Waffle House (@WaffleHouse) June 11, 2018
No worries here…
— Waffle House (@WaffleHouse) June 11, 2018
Each snarky tweet got the attention of additional consumers, building brand loyalty along the way. Many social media users vowed to eat at Burger King after it changed its social media profiles:
Even though this is all an elaborate marketing tactic, you have to admit that watching the brands’ petty drama unfold on Twitter has been a good time. Any distraction in the current climate is apparently a good one — even from fast food brands.
— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) June 12, 2018
Snark has worked in the past for brands such as Wendy’s, and more brand managers are embracing a casual, fun tone to better relate to their online followers.
However, make sure snark fits with your brand’s voice. Don’t force comedy or slang. The majority of consumers want to interact with brands that are honest, friendly and helpful, rather than just funny.
2. Keep consumers in mind (and don’t ignore them).
Along with making sure your snark (or lack thereof) fits with your brand’s voice, don’t just tweet and walk away. Instead, reward your followers with interactions that can also strengthen brand recognition, image and loyalty.
After changing its profiles, Burger King’s social media manager answered Twitter users with the same snarky tone:
sorry, old Burger King can’t come to the phone right now…
— Pancake King (@BurgerKing) June 11, 2018
Other brand managers did the same. Here’s an example from MoonPie:
Not only will you delight the social media user with whom you’re interacting—you’ll also catch the eye of others and come across as approachable.
3. Don’t be too promotional.
Several brand mangers hopped into the discussion with tweets that underlined their own burger offerings:
— Chili’s Grill & Bar (@Chilis) June 11, 2018
— Red Robin (@redrobinburgers) June 11, 2018
— Steak ‘n Shake (@SteaknShake) June 11, 2018
However, all of these tweets had noticeably less engagement than the tweets and Facebook posts that were more subtle.
When jumping on a trend, remember that less is often more. You don’t always have to highlight your organization’s value proposition. You want to participate in smart marketing moves—not come off sounding like a marketer.
4. Don’t ignore your competition online, because you all stand to win.
Interacting with your competitors online can give both organizations engagement and brand recognition boosts.
IHOP’s president, Darren Rebelez, told Business Insider on Monday that he was unconcerned by other chains’ jabs. While he said he hadn’t seen much of what the other burger brands had to say on Twitter, he considered the sass part of a successful campaign to relaunch burgers at IHOP.
“It’s actually great,” Rebelez said. “If we have other people in the world of burgers commenting on our burgers, it can only help.”
Previously, MoonPie’s interaction with Wendy’s and Twitch’s back-and-forth with Blizzard Entertainment amused social media users and racked up more brand love.
If you’re not into directly interacting with competitors, look at what they’re doing online and take notes.
What are some of your favorite examples of brand snark on social media?