How Wendy’s online audience influences its decisions

By monitoring social media chatter about its products and brand, the fast-food chain makes informed choices about nutrition apps, dollar-menu items, and speaking out about ‘pink slime.’


According to Brandon Rhoten, social media monitoring has helped Wendy’s accomplish things it never would have done 15 years ago.

He says the company has made the kind of decisions that would have given its public relations people a heart attack if the company didn’t have the data—and, now, the success stories—to back them up.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org‘s BlogWell conference in New York, Rohten explains how the brand has used social media monitoring strategies to figure out what people wanted from Wendy’s. He also details how company execs have used the results to make big decisions that paid off.

Here are three examples from his presentation on how social media monitoring made a big difference for Wendy’s.

  • Developing a great app: In monitoring social media, Rohten’s team found that when people go to lunch, they’re having thoughts such as, “How can I go here and not break my diet?” To help them out, the team developed an interactive application with nutritional information – a decision that made some PR people skeptical. However, because the brand listened to customers, the app earned tons of users, even without the chain’s advertising it.
  • Making value items cool: Wendy’s realized people rarely talk about the $1 hamburger they had for lunch. To encourage tweeting about value-menu items, the brand asked social media fans to give these items different names—a move that marketing people usually resist. Once it did, though, the brand saw a lot more customers ordering off the value menu.
  • The “pink slime” issue: When news outlets were outing every business involved in the beef product known as “pink slime,” the industry wanted restaurants to be quiet on the issue. However, Wendy’s was more interested in what customers wanted (and were loudly asking via social media): to know whether Wendy’s served pink slime. Through social media, Rohten’s team was able to proudly say Wendy’s had never used pink slime, earning additional fans and positive word of mouth.

A version of this article first appeared on SmartBlogs.com.

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