08 Aug Chick-fil-A: Facebook Fan Page Example in Detail #20
Next up in our 26 Facebook Fan Page Examples in Detail series is Chick-fil-A, the fast food chain with over 6.2 million fans. Known for it’s delicious food and top-notch customer service, the brand has recently fallen under a great deal of controversy. How has it affected their page and how are they handling it? Join us as we take a deep dive into this southern chain’s Facebook presence.
The first thing that probably comes to mind when most people think about Chick-fil-A is the recent controversy stemming from company president and COO Dan Cathy’s recent statements. On July 16th, Cathy was on the Ken Coleman Show and said this during a conversation about modern-day fatherhood and marriage:
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would (have) the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
His comments ignited a firestorm of criticism from those believing Cathy and the business he represents are against same-sex marriage. Initially, Chick-fil-A did not respond to any of the negative comments related to Cathy’s statement on its Facebook wall, and also seemed to be vastly decreasing its responses to positive comments. However, Chick-fil-A decided to address the accusations in a post on July 19th:
Following this statement, fans and foes of the brand continued to flood the page with their comments, but the controversy didn’t stop there. On July 20th, The Jim Henson Company, which had partnered with Chick-fil-A for a series of Muppets kid’s meal toys, released a statement saying that they would no longer partner with the brand because of the fast food chain’s stance on marriage. Chick-fil-A announced they were no longer carrying Muppet toys do to “safety concerns.” This announcement created a bit of skepticism resulting in this Facebook post:
As you can see from the screenshot (which has gone viral), a Facebook user posted a comment questioning Chick-fil-A’s reason for pulling the Muppet toys. Then, what appeared to be a fan named “Abby Farle” coming to the brand’s defense turned out to be an account that was created that day with a profile picture of a stock photo. This caused an uproar as many believe it was someone from Chick-fil-A’s PR team attempting to fabricate support for the company. Chick-fil-A has since officially denied any involvement in the incident and addressed The Jim Henson Company’s decision to sever ties with the company:
So far, it appears the controversy has been good for the Chick-fil-A Facebook page. Despite the negativity, they’re getting record numbers of likes and comments for their posts and they’ve gained over one million fans since the interview with Dan Cathy. Offline, supporters swarmed restaurants for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” on August 1st caused “record-setting” sales according to the company, although official numbers have not been released.
As of today, both supporters and opponents of Chick-fil-A are continuing to voice their opinions on the company’s Facebook page and through their own social channels. It’s difficult to say whether or not that will be good or bad for the restaurant chain over the long term. Either way, it will be very interesting to see how this issue pans out in the coming weeks.
But enough about that. This wouldn’t be an “Example in Detail” without looking at the page itself.
Chick-fil-A is currently taking advantage of the prime realty at the top of the new Facebook Timeline by using it to promote its catering. In the past, it has used cover photos to promote Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day (where fans dress up as cows to receive a free meal at any Chick-fil-A restaurant), seasonal milkshakes, and as a thank you to its fans for reaching 5 million likes.
Chick-fil-A Fan Engagement
The brand has also been capitalizing on the prominence Facebook now gives to images within posts to engage its audience in a creative way. It has created images with trivia, fill-in-the-blanks, and fun facts that are much more visually appealing to fans than a simple text update. It has also utilized the new post layout for photo albums to help feature fan content or upcoming promotions and events, such as a Chick-fil-A Fanstagram album, which features curated fan photos from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and the well-known Cow Appreciation Day.
My favorite of the four featured tabs is the Chick-fil-A Locator Tab. It goes beyond a simple restaurant locator by allowing fans to search for locations that have a drive-thru, online ordering, a playground, or in-restaurant wifi for guests. For hardcore Chick-fil-A fans, you can even plan a trip that includes a Chick-fil-A stop or two along the way.
The Chick-fil-A Menu Tab allows you to view the full restaurant menu by category, as well as the nutrition calculator. However, any clicks to this tab lead you off Facebook to the Chick-fil-A site. While making the menu easily accessible to its Facebook fans is a plus, the brand may benefit more from creating a menu and nutrition experience exclusive to their Facebook page so that fans don’t have to leave Facebook to further interact.
Cow Appreciation Day
As I mentioned earlier, Chick-fil-A’s Cow Appreciation Day is a popular feature among Chick-fil-A lovers, particularly because of the free meal involved. Although the actual event is now over (this year’s Cow Appreciation Day was on July 13th), Chick-fil-A has created a Cow Appreciation Day tab to keep the excitement going on its Facebook page. Fans could submit a photo of themselves dressed up in their best cow costume through July 31st for a chance to win a $100 Chick-fil-A gift card, plush cows, and other prizes. Included on the tab is a callout for the Chick-fil-A iPhone app, which allows fans to upload photos to the Best Cow Costume Contest straight from their phones. The app also includes a restaurant locator, the Chick-fil-A menu, and more.
Chick-fil-A has taken full advantage of the Facebook Timeline update to feature the history of their brand, from the opening of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant to the introduction of new menu items, like their signature waffle fries. Utilizing this feature allows fans the opportunity to gain a more in-depth knowledge of the brand and feel more connected to it. It also humanizes the brand by showing its humble, small-town beginnings.
Chick-fil-A Content Strategy
Chick-fil-A does a pretty good job of engaging its Facebook fans through creative updates. The highest engagement on the wall is garnered from posts around popular menu items, such as the seasonal milkshakes, that also include an eye-catching photo. The brand has also seen high engagement with simple fill-in-the-blank and trivia posts, like those discussed above.
Chick-fil-A has enabled fan comments on its page, but only appears to be responding to a smattering of these. With the large volume of comments that the page receives, it is understandable that not all comments should elicit a response, but I’d like to see the brand engaging a little more with fans, particularly its brand advocates. With the current crisis situation Chick-fil-A is facing, comments are streaming in at an increased rate while the brand’s responses to all comments seem to be decreasing.
A comparison of Chick-fil-A’s engagement rates (not including engagement rates on posts centered around the controversy) with KFC shows that, though the page receives a good amount of engagement from its fans, it doesn’t come close to the rates KFC is garnering. In the future, I’d like to see Chick-fil-A continue to post creative, engaging updates like the Chick-fil-A Fantagram album and updates that use images combined with text, as these posts garnered a high level of engagement and also prompted a great deal of sharing.
So what do you think about Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page – does the brand need to work to improve its social presence? Is the current controversy surrounding it going to prove detrimental to its success? Share in the comments below.