QSR Brands Taking a Top-Down Approach to Local Social Media | NACS Online – Media – News Archive
Sign In Help

The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing

Skip Navigation LinksNACS Online / Media / News Archive

QSR Brands Taking a Top-Down Approach to Local Social Media

Creating a localized presence still key to authentic community interaction.
June 13, 2014

​CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – While it’s become standard practice for corporate brands to engage consumers through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, location-specific marketing could be the new wave of social media. Increasingly, quick-service brands are targeting consumers in individual markets across the U.S., according to a recent article in QSR Magazine.

“It’s really messy [for a brand] to set up [social media pages] regardless of if they intended to start localized social or not,” said Erica McClenny, senior vice president of product management at social software firm Expion, in the QSR report.

McClenny explains that early adopters of social media marketing often created their own local pages before there were features like Facebook Local Search, which debuted in 2013 and filters nearby attractions on the mobile app. Many brands then reined in individual pages and Twitter handles under a parent umbrella.

Now brands are taking a more top-down approach, where the parent company rather than franchisees create local accounts. In this case, the challenge involves nurturing a community through new accounts.

“Growth can take a really long time,” Judi Cutrone, senior social media analyst at marketing outfit The VIA Agency, was quoted as saying in QSR. “Make sure the marketing is there and that you’re really doing anything you can to build up a community so that it looks full and thriving as soon as you can manage it.”

For instance, in the past 18 months, Wendy’s has converged its many social media personas to build a more standardized local experience, with the main driver for the effort being increased quality control.

In addition to the Facebook localization tool, Wendy’s worked with marketing software startup Balihoo to build a centralized hub for operators and franchisees called Wendy’s Local. The company is rolling out Wendy’s Local at a steady pace, and now about half of its markets have access.

“The local markets can actually post to the national page, but it’s geo-targeted to the local market,” Brandon Rhoten, vice president of digital and social media at Wendy’s said. Through this system, franchisees can submit post requests to be reviewed by Wendy’s legal department and a corporate social media manager.

Dunkin’ Donuts, which has 31 Twitter and Facebook accounts, enlists the help of regional and international partners to localize content. A 10-person social media team at headquarters manages special promotions and sweepstakes, but that does not preclude operators from showcasing local news and partnerships.

“It is important that we are able to share information with our local fans about events or special promotions that may be happening in their hometown and to have that open dialogue with them,” says Jessica Gioglio, Dunkin’ Donuts social media manager, in an email. “This also helps us communicate what our franchisees — who individually own Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in their own communities — are doing on a local level.”

Streamlining the franchisor-franchisee relationship within a master portal can also prevent promotional overlap. A market’s appetite for social media can also determine how well these programs are received. Major metropolitans like New York City are more likely to welcome such innovations. “It depends more on the franchisee taste in the area more than anything else,” Rhoten says.

Localized marketing via social media channels is less expensive than traditional platforms.  For instance, while a brand may pay $100,000 for a series of radio ads, it would only pay $500–$1,000 for the social media equivalent. Beyond boosting sales and foot traffic, the best benefit to a localized presence is a brand’s ability to foster a more intimate relationship with specific individual customers.