On August 12 fast food chicken chain Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich. In addition to chicken, the sandwich included pickles and mayo and a few other options. Hmmm…sounds very Chick-fil-A original sandwich-ish. Chicken sandwich fans on social media started expressing how much they liked the new sandwich.
Popeyes Aug. 12 tweet:
Chicken. Brioche. Pickles. New. Sandwich. Popeyes. Nationwide. So. Good. Forgot. How. Speak. In. Complete. Sandwiches. I mean, sentences. pic.twitter.com/14kXBv4jJw
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 12, 2019
After this positive reaction went on for a week, on August 19 Chick-fil-A flew to Twitter with this tweet, not mentioning Popeyes directly:
Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the ❤️ for the original. pic.twitter.com/qBAIIxZx5v
— Chick-fil-A, Inc. (@ChickfilA) August 19, 2019
Full-on Chicken Brawl
Which brings us to #ChickenWars, #ChickenSandwichWars, #ChickenSandwichTwitter. Chicken sandwich fans noticed a threatened Chick-Fil-A as did the Popeyes social media team, who fired off with this tweet heard ‘round the world:
… y’all good? https://t.co/lPaTFXfnyP
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 19, 2019
A simple and funny question: “… y’all good?” The crowd flocked. More people got involved including everyday people, high-profile people, and other brands trying to be part of the “movement.”
Popeyes was paying attention, saw the opportunity to jump into the conversation with humor, and stretched its launch buzz beyond a week. According to Reuters, Apex Marketing Group data estimates that Popeyes received $23.25 million in free advertising. Gulp.
Borrow from the Fast Food Social Media Playbook
B2B tech marketers take note: Social media is not less relevant than other methods to reach audiences when it’s done with finesse. It’s important to note that Chick-Fil-A already had a brand issue based on the history of the owner opposing LGBTQ rights. Many posts reflected this history, e.g.
chick fil a watching popeye's unveil a chicken sandwich that is available on sundays hold the homophobia pic.twitter.com/a5GZwxWQhk
— Chandler Dean (@chandlerjdean) August 19, 2019
The chicken wars are entertaining and although this is a B2C example, it teaches us something about how to use social media effectively to tell a company’s story. Here are three tips for B2B tech marketers on how to use social as a jumping off place to create stories:
1. Listen/observe: If you are asleep at the wheel, you miss out. Know what’s happening – be up on the latest news trends. This sounds like Captain Obvious but is key. Can you incorporate your brand into the conversation or bring something new to the table?
2. Participate or not but be in the position to make the choice and not have it made for you: Maybe Chick-Fil-A should have remained neutral and just let the Popeyes launch happen and die down? By getting involved, Chick-Fil-A fanned the flames. Don’t put yourself in the position of being reactionary. Be proactive and in control of your reaction (which may be simply doing nothing).
3. Be provocative, not boring: Take a contrarian or outside-of-the-box viewpoint and get in the conversation or start one (no need to get crazy or break brand guidelines – stay within reason). Use humor to deliver your message. If you haven’t yet, go look @PopeyesChicken Twitter feed. Funny!