Social Media Marketing: Does Fortune Really Favour The Brave?

Do you believe in the phrase ‘fortune favours the brave’?

Are you willing to take risks regardless of the outcome? If you do subscribe to that school of thought there could be a job waiting for you at Burger King, Norway. Burger King recently carried out an experiment to determine which of its social media fans were true devotees, and which were simply in it for the free lunch. The company ran a campaign publicising its new Facebook page. In the promotion it offered its fans a free Big Mac at its bitter rivals if they would simply agree to being banned for life from its new Facebook page. If that’s got you scratching your head and wondering what on earth the company was thinking, then you’re not alone. After all, how many companies would go out of their way to lose fans – even if only on Facebook?

It might sound counter-intuitive, but Burger King definitely knew what it was doing.

What it wanted to do was identify who were the true fans and who weren’t. In other words it wanted to separate the wheat from the chaff. It correctly assumed that true followers would never take the bait or the bite. Anyone who did was no longer welcome it argued. Now that’s a brave call granted, but there is a kind of logic behind it, though it’s not immediately obvious. Burger King maintained that true Facebook fans were far more committed than fair weather fans: they would stay true to the company come hell or high water, and were therefore far more valuable.

Did the stunt work you may wonder? Well, it certainly worked in terms of numbers. Of the 38,000 initial Facebook followers, 30,000 jumped ship and opted for the free burger. The remaining 8,000 choose to stay loyal and signed up for the new Facebook page. But surely a stunt like that is suicidal. What company would actively choose to lose fans and followers? Well, the answer seems to be the type of company that knew it could rely on the loyalty and engagement of the followers that remained. Burger King may have instantly lost 30,000 followers, but within the space of one day it had gained 2,000 new fans. Maybe that was the purpose all along – to re-establish a following which was truly loyal.

Was this promotion simply a stunt?

Well, not according to Isabelle O’Kane, Strategy Director with Simply Zesty in Dublin. Writing on the company website she argued that this brave move by Burger King will ultimately pay off and could possibly even be mimicked by other brands in the future:

“I think it’s a brave move on the part of Burger King and I believe that fortune favours the brave. Burger King have shown that they want to create real engagement rather than focus on the numbers of followers they have on Facebook,” she added.

“Currently the page has over 10,000 followers and thus the move has served to only reduce their community by two thirds. This may sound a lot but with average brand page engagement at 8%, to consider that Burger King managed to re-launch their Facebook page and still retain the more engaged third of their original community, is already a success in my opinion.”

“Burger King have never been shy about their behaviour and so far it’s paid off with the success of campaigns such as ‘Subservient Chicken.’ Overall I think it’s an interesting move that seems to have been informed by research telling us that on average the engagement rate of each of a brand’s top 20 most engaged fans equal that of 75 average fans. We may be reaching a phase of Facebook marketing that embraces the ‘superfan’.”

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