Can you think of a more competitive market than fast food or fast casual restaurants? I have not been able to come up with one. This blog will show how Five Guys social media marketing effectively generates success in a very competitive market segment.
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Five Guys has been a Washington, DC favorite since 1986. It was then that the parents offered the brothers the option of college or starting a family run business.
As the story goes, the business option won. And so the carry out burger business was launched in Alexandria, Virginia.
Five Guys opened its first location in Arlington, Virginia as a family-run restaurant named after, you guessed it, five brothers. During the 1980’s and 1990’s they perfected their trade with expansion in the area and adding the eat-in the restaurant feature.
In 2003, they were finally convinced to franchise. Their business has continued to grow on the national scale.
Renowned for their fresh, high-quality food, Five Guys expanded quickly and now have more than 1,200 franchises across the US, Canada, England, and Scotland. Their plans were to move into Europe and the Middle East.
With over 30,000 employees (of which 250 work for the corporate office), the company wanted to reconcile a potential disconnect. A disconnect between its multinational brand power and the family-owned persona. A persona that resonates with its loyal local customers.
What is the secret of this small business’ growth, you may be wondering?
It is not rocket science, but it is a hard lesson for many businesses to learn. This is especially true for small businesses. The question businesses in highly competitive markets need to answer is the following:
How do you make a difference to someone who has infinite choice?
Five guys … just another fast food restaurant? Not so fast … consider their value discrimination:
Always fresh beef, never frozen
Fresh cut (from real potatoes) french fries
If you have visited a restaurant, you noticed the bags of potatoes in a visible portion of the establishment.
Burgers are cooked by hand, not a machine
Many options for burger fixings and potatoes
Still fast service
The Five Guys marketing strategy focused primarily on social media for the bulk of their strategy activities. This included customer service and public relations, rather than traditional print, radio, and TV advertising.
They engaged directly with customers instead of talking at them. By doing this, the marketing team hoped to keep the unique Five Guys voice as fresh, authentic, and relevant. Worked well to build and keep their customer base.
I believe there are four secrets to the Five Guys social media marketing:
Making customer service the social media centerpiece
Five Guys gets the concept of customer service, as well as customer experience. They have become the foundation of their marketing.
They realized that word of mouth was the best type of marketing. They knew people would spread the word fastest with outstanding service.
They stay very tuned into the customer feedback on all social networks. The streams layout in their customer dashboard show social posts related to brand and services keywords.
This makes it easy for the team to share any inbound comments or questions with the right Five Guys corporate team member.
“The customers are who we value most. It’s absolutely necessary to provide the type of customer service they have come to expect.
By monitoring a variety of different hashtags it gives us the opportunity to react quickly to negative experiences. It also giveso the opportunity to reach out to those individuals who are trying us out for the first time.
Or perhaps simply telling us they enjoy our food. These are things we love to hear. We love having the opportunity to engage with these customers on a more personal level.”
— Kenneth Westling, Online Marketing Specialist, Five Guys
Marketing liaises daily with Five Guys’ customer service to exchange client feedback and get a sense of the overall feeling towards the brand.
This information gives them a deeper understanding of the Five Guys’ audience. Therefore they can create content that directly addresses feedback. Feedback that will nurture customer relationships
The bottom line
Social media can give you a wealth of information not available through other traditional communication channels.
Information such as how people feel about your brand and which products are the most popular. Information that includes the geographic and/or demographic distribution of buyers.
What customers REALLY think
As the Five Guys franchise has expanded, their menu and services have evolved to cater to their customers’ needs on a local level. Their social media’s geo-targeting functionality has allowed them to monitor specific conversation topics. Monitoring them as they happen, in specific areas of interest.
They first set up a good listening strategy. They then breaking it down by location. The Five Guys team has been able to gain deeper understanding into what is working and what’s missing. They pay attention to sentiment around individual campaigns or initiatives.
Make listening on-line and off is one of the most critical efforts a business can do. Seek to gain and act on customer insights.
Employee delegation for social media
The Five Guys main Twitter account, @Five_Guys , is used for engaging with customers. Also for answering queries, and providing information about the brand and new store openings.
Individual franchise locations, however, are also given dedicated accounts. They use them to communicate locally on promotions, new flavors or products, and events that resonate with the community.
Employee interaction is encouraged and is critical to this strategy.
By empowering franchisees to communicate and collaborate across the entire market, individual branches can uncover customer feedback themselves.
They can respond directly and make changes that improve the customer experience.
And because the Five Guys brand is genuine, personal, and interested, they wanted to celebrate franchise employee teams.
They do this by giving the public a “behind-the scenes” peek into their worlds through photos and videos.
Here is an example. The “Pursuit of Perfection Tour” campaign, tracked with the hashtag #HighFive, has proven enormously successful. It is now an ongoing social initiative. A very cool initiative of the creative initiative spirit at Five Guys.
There is no doubt that great customer engagement starts with great employee engagement. It is amazing how well employee delegation improves social media engagement.
Five Guys social media marketing … create engaging content
Just a glance at Five Guys’ well-established Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram networks shows a company that puts the focus on its customers. It shows sharing photos, quotes, and reviews from their clients.
Content is user-generated, whether it comes from social contests or feedback gained through customer service.
Let’s take a look at some of Five Guys’ social campaigns.
#SayCheeseSweeps is one of their successes, with more than 1,000 total mentions on Twitter and Instagram. Customers hashtagged photos of themselves with Five Guys Cheeseburgers for a chance to win prizes. These photos were shared across the Five Guys networks.
Audience participation was even greater than expected, so the team recreated the campaign with milkshakes, using the hashtag #ShareYourShake.
All promotional posts were scheduled and tracked on their customer dashboard.
Engagement is the company’s top priority metric. Therefore, they generate good data on shares, reach, best engagement times, and days of high engagement.
This kind of quantitative data is invaluable for showing the return on investment in social initiatives. It is critical for helping future campaign planning.
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Satisfied customers often become brand ambassadors. Social campaigns are a great way to generate buzz and sharable content from audiences. Audiences that best know your products and services—your happy customers.
The bottom line
So what is the answer to the question of the secrets to Five Guys social media marketing success in a highly competitive market?
Build and maintain competitive advantages around what your target customers are looking for.
What are some of your business’s competitive advantages that you would share?
Need some help in finding ways to improve your social media initiatives and marketing? Such as creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential customers? Or perhaps finding ways to work with other businesses?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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Five Guys Social Media Marketing … Employ these Winning Secrets