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While picking the brands to feature in our weekly social roundups I frequently focus on major global retailers or FMCGs such as Macy's, Coca-Cola or ASOS.
As far as I can recall, the only restaurant chain I’ve looked at so far has been McDonald’s so I thought it would be interesting to highlight one of its competitors.
Newcastle-based bakery chain Greggs obviously isn’t in quite the same league as Ronald and his crew, but it’s still an interesting case study in how a fast food chain can promote itself using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
Gregg’s updates its Facebook page on a regular basis, though at certain times of the year it only posted a few items per month.
Most of the recent content has focused on the company’s various promotions and competitions, including a tie in with Fairtrade that allows people to win a trip to meet coffee farmers and the Greggs pasty roulette van.
The roulette game has been heavily promoted on Facebook and as well as the van there is a dedicated minisite that has hosted a number of chicken lattice giveaways over the past few weeks.
Another familiar feature on the Greggs Facebook page is employee ‘John the Baker’ who rose to prominence during a reality show that aired earlier this year.
Greggs has made John the face of its brand and he now gives regular product suggestions and recipe ideas.
It fits well with Greggs’ image as an everyday, unpretentious brand, and means the retailer doesn’t have to splash out on celebrity endorsements.
But despite having a decent range of content and a regularly updated page, Greggs struggles to get more than a few hundred ‘likes’ and comments on each post so its content is probably failing to gain a large audience.
This is even more surprising considering that it has almost 750,000 fans.
This obviously varies throughout the year as it seeks to promote different products and in July the focus was on its new range of doughnuts.
Gregg’s also ran a promotion in the summer months that made use of user-generated content to show its products in quirky locations.
Fans had to post images of themselves with a Greggs product in a high up location, alongside the hashtag #HighRollers.
A select few were then reposted by Greggs, which is a simple but effective way of rewarding fans for engaging with the brand.
It’s also worth mentioning a Gregg’s campaign from a few years ago that apparently helped it to sell more than one million doughnuts across the UK.
The campaign ran across Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and was launched to promote the baker’s new range of doughnuts.
Each product was given its own personality and fans had to vote to decide the ‘Superstar Doughnut’.
As a result of the campaign, Greggs sold 1.5m doughnuts from its new range, including thousands that were redeemed using vouchers claimed by consumers on Twitter through a hashtag topic called #DoughnutDay.
In addition, it generated 150,000 online visits to the Greggs website and helped to significantly increase follower and fan numbers on Twitter and Facebook.
Greggs has adopted a chatty, quirky tone on Twitter, which is a strategy we’ve seen from a number of other brands, and one that can work well.
The social team monitors @mentions as well as general uses of the brand name, then responds in a lighthearted tone.
In fact Greggs largely uses Twitter as a means of engaging in conversation with other users, so there are relatively few straightforward product promotions or marketing messages.
I feel this is probably the best strategy for Greggs, as it’s in keeping with the brand image and is more likely to attract followers than a dull feed consisting of adverts or corporate sales content.
As a result of the quirky strategy Greggs has 74,000 followers, which isn’t bad for a fast food bakery. By way of comparison, Pret A Manger has 47,000 followers.
But alongside the frivolity Greggs also uses Twitter to respond to user queries and complaints. Often brands operate separate feeds to deal with customer service issues, however Greggs obviously hasn’t decided to go down this route.
Greggs has also run a number of campaigns and competitions using its Twitter feed, including one that asked its fans and followers to submit ideas for a festive song as it looked to “capture the festive spirit of customers” and raise money for forces charity Help for Heroes.
The resulting song, inspired by what makes Christmas special for Greggs fans, was recorded by indie band Silvers and released on iTunes.
The concept was developed by digital agency Steel, which created a character named Festive Jake the Festive Bake to front the campaign.
As you can see from this video, the results weren’t good...
Though there is a Pinterest account that purports to be for Greggs it only has a single board that includes just four pins.
If this was created by Greggs then it should probably take it down, as dormant social accounts always look a bit sloppy.
In reality Pinterest would likely be of limited use to Greggs, as although food is a popular topic on the social network it tends to be artistic creations or recipes rather than fast food products.
The Greggs Google+ page is an all-too-familiar story of neglect and indifference.
The baker began a page back in May and since then has published just six updates, five of which feature John the Baker. As a result the page has a measly 14 followers.
But Greggs is not alone in paying scant attention to G+ as a large proportion of the other brands I’ve looked at, including Nike and McDonald’s, have also established pages then put in zero effort to keep it updated.