The following was completed as an assignment for MMC 5636 – Introduction to Social Media. This course is being completed as part of the Master of Arts in Mass Communications with a specialization in Social Media program, through the University of Florida. As such, the content discussed is for purely academic purposes.
Section 1 – Zaxby’s the Brand
Zaxby’s is a flourishing fast-casual restaurant chain with over 670 franchise locations in the US, primarily clustered in the southeast. The company started back in 1990, when founders, Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley identified a problem – the chicken restaurants in their college town were simply not up to par. Not only was the chicken bland, the dining experience was also snooze-worthy. So they created Zaxby’s, a place known for its “indescribably good chicken” and good times. Families love Zaxby’s for the comfortable “fast-casual” ambiance, (similar to Panera Bread), in addition to their Chicken Fingerz, Jumbo Buffalo Wings, Zalads, Sauces and Sandwiches. Also important to note: “their milkshakes are zensational!”
Since the brand is in a period of transition, their long term and short-term goals are one in the same, yet vary by platform as follows:
- Facebook/Twitter: Zaxby’s has a more established presence on these platforms, so their goal is to increase their engagement rates to be more in-line with industry leaders.
- Instagram: On this platform, the brand is young with less than 4 thousand followers. Their focus is on using organic outreach to increase their following; they monitor reach and impressions in order to determine the efficacy of their content.
In general, this brand targets middle age, Caucasian women, and based off of social media audience insights, it is clear that this demographic represents a large portion of their following. The creative concept is designed to appeal to moms with families in a vibe consistent with ‘family values’. On Twitter, the brand targets younger fans (under 25 years of age) that identify as either being from an urban environment or the country. This target remains consistent on Instagram, where the brand turns up the dial on the artistic flair, which is embodied in the creative concept. Their Instagram followers like to lead the pack, and so to appeal to the Millennial “selfie” mindset, the brand must churn out content that is worthy of the coveted ‘double-take’.
The brands direct competitor list is open for debate. While some believe other “fast-food” chicken restaurants (e.g. KFC, Chick-fil-a, Popeye’s) fill this role, the brand views its competitors as other “fast-casual” restaurants (e.g. Panera Bread or Chipotle). The latter offer a dining experience a notch above typical fast food, and Zaxby’s believes their offerings are of a similar quality.
Section 2 – Zaxby’s Social Media
Zaxby’s has an active presence across the social media platforms listed below. In the pages that follow, we’ll focus particularly on Twitter.
Section Three – Zaxby’s on Twitter
From Thursday 10 September until Saturday 12 September 2015, we tracked the brand’s Twitter usage using the digital marketing analytical platform – Rival IQ (WWW.RivalIQ.com). This was accomplished by comparing it to the five previously listed competitive Fast Food – Chicken and Fast Casual brands. The major event(s) for Zaxby’s during this timeframe was the Country Nation College Tour. This was a free concert tour by country singer Brad Paisley to four major universities with the brand as the primary sponsor: September 6th – Virginia Tech; September 10th – University of Texas; September 11th – Baylor University; and, September 12th – University of Arkansas.
Out of the six comparable brands, Zaxby’s ranks 5th and well below the group average with 73k Twitter followers. The group leader is KFC who has 888k followers, and the group average is 449k followers. During a timeframe where Zaxby’s saw no discernable increase in followers, all other brands saw an increase of anywhere from 2,664 (KFC) to 6,003 (Chick-fil-a) followers. During these three days Zaxby’s tweeted an average of 43.4 times. These can be broken down into an average of 2.57 original tweets and 40.86 reply tweets per day, with the vast majority of those reply tweets being customer service oriented or more specifically responses to poor services or product. This places Zaxby’s in fourth place for average number of tweets per day, however they are first for average number of original tweets per day (Figure 1). The tweet engagement total is the number of retweets and favorites that a brands tweets achieve. During this time frame the tweet engagement total for the brand was 405, which included 123 retweets and 282 favorites. This placed Zaxby’s in fourth place compared to its competitors (Figure 2).
Based upon the numbers presented one might assume that Zaxby’s is falling short of their competitors. However, when we compare the 50 most engaging tweets by these brands we see a much clearer picture as to the impact that Zaxby’s is making on the Twitter landscape.
As you can see in Figure 3, over the past week Zaxby’s had the highest number of engaging tweets. The majority of these tweets were in reference to the Country Nation College Tour, however the most engaging tweet, which ranked ninth, was just a tweet about National Chicken Month. This simple and clear topical focus was presented through a short, 13-second Gif that strung together delicious images of their product offerings.
Based upon the information collected over the three-day time frame, we have formulated the following three simple suggestions to improve Zaxby’s use of Twitter.
- Strategy. Strategy starts with Zaxby’s brand goals. These goals should be revisited and redrafted based upon the SMART criteria for objective setting: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Based upon the tweets reviewed over the three-day time frame we see two main types of tweets. The first is the original content tweet and the second is the response tweet. The response tweets viewed were timely and took immediate action to refer the complainant to customer service in order to come to a positive resolution, so Zaxby’s should continue to use Twitter in this manner. However, the original content tweets, even though they had very positive impact, do little to engage their followers in a conversation. There was no ‘Call to Action’, and especially during events like the Country Nation College Tour this was a wasted opportunity. Example of a potential event ‘Call to Action’ Tweet:
“There is no better way to celebrate than with a Brad Paisley concert and a meal @Zaxby’s – Lets see pictures of both! #Zaxbys #BradPaisley #CountryNationCollegeTour”
Also, in order to increase engagement, generate conversation and capitalize on the social media feedback cycle we recommend that Zaxby’s adopt a similar approach to the Starbucks example outlined in Lecture 1. National Chicken Month was the topical focus of the brand’s most engaging tweet, and in honor of this timely topic, the brand could ask customers to nominate new, limited-time product offerings. The dish that generates the most excitement on social media could then be added to the menu, allowing fans an opportunity to co-create and inform the brand of their cravings.
- Followers. The fact that there was no increase in Twitter followers over a three-day period that included free concerts sponsored by Zaxby’s shows an incredible wasted opportunity. Prior to all three of these events an increased amount of outreach should have taken place all with the aim of increasing social media followers. There is no reason that with the size of Universities that these concerts took place at that Zaxby’s should have had the largest increase in Twitter followers over this time-frame.
- Content. With fifteen of the top fifty tweets over the past week, Zaxby’s has shown that their original tweets can have an incredibly solid impact. What was surprising was that with the number of people attending free concerts sponsored by Zaxby’s that their concert related original tweets did not have more activity (favorites and retweets). This is potentially linked to the first recommendation that there was no real ‘Call to Action’ or conversational engagement. Knowing that these events were taking place, more work should have been done in crafting and testing tweets surrounding these events.