Larry A. Meltzer, Agency Principal
If you’re not fortunate enough to live in a market served by In-N-Out Burger, you’re missing out on not only some of the best fast food around, but also a front seat to some of the most fervent and loyal customers of any brand. In the past few weeks alone, the chain has been in the news for the positive relationship that grandparents built with their granddaughter through weekly photos at the restaurant, and for a California couple who held their wedding reception at an In-N-Out location. After all, nothing sets a couple on the road to wedded bliss like a double-double and animal fries!
You can’t buy p.r. like this. But can you foster it? Yes, but it requires that a brand be quick on the uptake, and also display a deft touch. Looking at brands that do this right, we see a few commonalities:
Embrace it. It’s great to celebrate when this type of user-generated content goes viral, but go beyond – participate in it. Embed it on your brand’s website for a period. Engage with the participants to bolster the good feelings, and find a way to enlist them as brand ambassadors.
Sread it around. While a brand doesn’t want to appear as if it’s taking over the user-generated content, you can make sure your influencers – both external and internal – know about it. Encourage them to share it with their networks as a way to spread the message organically.
Build on it. What else can you do to put a halo around your brand while interest is heightened? Create a hashtag around it as way to invite others to participate in the fun. In the case of the wedding, create a “wedding package” so others can follow in the bride-and-groom’s footsteps, or hold a contest to find other newlyweds looking for an unusual reception venue.
As marketers, we tend to lean in where we have control. But if you loosen the reins a bit when others control the message, in a positive way that engages a broader audience, the results can be a viral ride that reflects well on your brand.
Disclaimer: Our firm has done work with In-N-Out Burger.