Last week I wrote about a case study that McDonald’s presented at the Mobile Social Communications conference in New York. Rick Wion, head of social media at McDonald’s, boasted that a special McDonald’s ran on Foursquare Day in April increased foot traffic at McDonald’s 33%.

That’s no small number, and since not all 26 million McDonald’s customers are on Foursquare, it was a bit unclear what, exactly, had increased 33%. 

With commenters and bloggers questioning the results, I followed up with Wion. As it turns out that McDonald’s results were not measured in actual foot traffic. According to Wion:

“We measured check-ins, not foot traffic, transactions, or sales, on Foursquare Day.”

That’s an over 20 million customer difference. However, Wion still
stands behind his results. And he’s using this case study to justify
more social media offers at McDonald’s.

Wion used the term foot traffic because he found it easier to convey the impact of the campaign:

“This kind of program
was uncharted waters for us, so we needed to develop a means of
measurement that translated to other commonly understood metrics within
the McDonald’s
system.”

To celebrate an event called Foursquare Day, Wion offered 100 gift cards to Foursquare users who checked into one of McDonald’s 14,000 stores on April 16. According to Wion:

“During the pilot program we saw a 33% increase in check-ins from people visiting our restaurants. We measured this by indexing the amount of check-ins across all McDonald’s restaurants in the days leading up to the pilot and then on the pilot day itself. While a check-in isn’t the same thing as foot traffic or sales, it does show an increased level of engagement with our brand and that social media can be used to drive folks into our restaurants.”

A criticism of the case study was that the program did not directly drive sales. Wion says to that:

“The
event was not intended to drive sales, but rather to honor the fans of
Foursquare Day and serve as a pilot for future location based programs.”

The offer served as proof that Foursquare is an effective marketing vehicle for many McDonald’s employees. Wion says:

“Social media is widely supported by McDonald’s. We received great feedback about the Foursquare program internally. A lot of folks within our offices have now adopted it, personally. The competition to be mayor of our HQ building and Hamburger University, our training facility, is quite heated.”

And similar programs from McDonald’s are likely to come soon. He says:

“In my opinion, the entire location based services area holds great promises for all businesses. I am a big proponent of conducting pilot programs and then evaluating the results to help guide the development of a more wide-reaching strategy.”