How Wendy’s Views Social Data

If you’re on Twitter between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., chances are you’ll run across some of your friends debating what they should have for lunch. At least this is what the Wendy’s team found upon completing a digital marketing audit nearly 18 months ago.

The team has proof that it can steer the conversation toward a discussion about Wendy’s by listening to what people are saying. For example, @metalfaninblack recently Tweeted, “Ok, the first to reply back at me, I’ll eat lunch from you today @McDonalds @BurgerKing @DairyQueen@sonicdrive_in @Wendys.” Wendy’s, clearly monitoring the Twitterverse, responded first.

“Our overarching view is to get to people who are making decisions and talking about us,” said Brandon Rhoten, director of digital marketing at Wendy’s. “For us, it’s not about how many fans we have. It’s what the fans do with the information we give them and how we influence people’s decisions.”

The Wendy’s team looks at how its content is shared and watches how the message carries because the more engaged users typically are those with the highest purchase intent. Additionally, the brand uses Twitter as a listening tool to see how people are thinking about a particular decision, for example, and use its social networks to provide what Rhoten says is “valuable information.” For example, one recent tweet from @foodbeast says, “Go Big or Go Small — Wendy’s Introduces ‘Son of Baconator’ to Menu,” which shows the brand exactly where its news is being shared — in this case, on the site

“It’s about engagement and how far and deep the message travels, so we like to see if we say something about a new product, how many people talk about it and how many of their friends talk about it,” Rhoten said.

Wendy’s recently ran two campaigns with viral sharing network ShareThis to determine which sites were generating the most sharing activity for a given topic. ShareThis targeted people who share and discuss food, specifically the type of food the chain offers.

“Most banner advertising can’t differentiate between the person who cares versus those who don’t. The [Share Quality Index] technology watches people’s behavior and monitors how they click and what they do and learns from them, delivering an ad to the people most likely to share and talk about what we care about,” explained Rhoten.

When SQI targeting was used, the click-through rate more than doubled what it would have been on ShareThis without the index, menu page views increased 236 percent, and store locator inquiries increased 236 percent. This last point was key, added Rhoten, as well as whether people ended up subscribing to a particular service, such as liking Wendy’s on Facebook or signing up for its email list. These results were also accomplished with half the cost per unique.

“Sharing is a very strong indicator of user intent,” said Andy Stevens, director of sales strategy at ShareThis. “When someone is looking to buy something, they click on shared links that their friends have posted and ask their social network for advice. Sharing is a very powerful proxy for pre-sale behavior.”

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