How Social Media Has Changed Fast Food Menu Items

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How Social Media Has Changed Fast Food Menu Items

We don’t even have to ask if you’ve heard of these crazy menu items because they were literally everywhere on social media. From Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino to Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chips to Burger King’s Mac ’n’ Cheetos to McDonald’s Frork, berserk products have continued to clutter the feeds of users for the past month.

So what’s the deal with all these crazy inventions? Is the inexpensive price and deliciousness of a Big Mac not enough anymore?

The Age of Social Media

With this new age of putting everything on social media, anything that goes viral can quickly and easily translate into big bucks for participating fast food chains. It’s no longer about advertising their extremely popular staples, but as millennial bait to get people talking (instagramming, tweeting and snapping) about their latest fad… And it’s always for a limited time. So get in quick, and don’t forget your phone to document every single second of your experience!

But does it work?

In short, yes. According to Talkwalker, a social media data analytics company, the Unicorn Frappuccino raked in 51,000 social media mentions the day before it was announced, 72,000 the day it was unveiled and more than 177,000 the day after it was available in stores. Similar success stories can be told for each of the aforementioned brands and their wacky products.

And it doesn’t stop with just food.

How many of you saw this red swimsuit all over your Instagram feed? California-based company, Sunny Co, posted on Instagram that anyone who reposted the picture and tagged the company’s account would receive the bathing suit for free. Needless to say, the promotion blew up and maybe backfired a little, as the company had to edit the rules to include a cap on suits distributed and a delay in delivery times based on the volume of participants.

In over-saturated industries like fast food chains and clothing brands, these viral products have become the trend to get people talking and to encourage earned word-of-mouth media and an increase in purchases (whether it’s the actual insane product or not).

What’s in the secret sauce?

The formula to creating buzz for these share-worthy items combines a photograph-inducing appearance, a trendy or topical name and pre-launching with industry influencers. Taco Bell saw this work beautifully for their Naked Chicken Chips. They partnered with Foodbeast, a website for bloggers and foodies, and invited more than 70 of them to try the product before launching. The content spread like wildfire, and people were talking about the new item before it even hit restaurants. Talk about the power of social media!

The real question is… what will be the next craze?


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