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  • Twitter Friday: Oprah’s KFC Coupons Congested Twitter

    From a Public Relations perspective the ages old saying “any publicity is good publicity” is ever present. It also seemed to be driving force of Oprah Winfrey’s latest stunt on Twitter and beyond, the free KFC coupons giveaway. What happened?

    Oprah, the probably most popular TV host in the US, announced the chicken giveaway on her show and Twitter went crazy. There’s been a huge viral effect and a lot of bad press afterwards for a variety of reasons, like:

    • The hypocrisy of working together with PETA (animal rights organization) one day and advertising chicken meals the other day
    • Problems with accessing the website and printing out the coupons
    • Overwhelmed KFC restaurants that couldn’t cope with the high demand or simply were unprepared or unwilling to offer enough of the free portions

    among other issues. I do not want to cover those again. The issue I see here hasn’t been covered yet as far as I can see: The flooding of Twitter with a marketing message. Now lets just assume that we don’t contest the wort of such a campaign.

    Let’s just say that it’s a nice move by KFC to offer free food especially in hard times like these.

    Of course I don’t think it’s the case, to me it’s quite a cynical exploitation of the dire economic situation of many people in the US. It has been exploited for advertising purposes. I don’t want to write about advertising ethics here either though. My concern is what happened on and with Twitter on that day.

    I use Twitter in a twofold manner. I use it to connect with my peers from the search marketing industry, other bloggers etc. On the other hand I use it to determine the buzz of the Web, as a social news site. I use Digg-like interfaces to get a quick overview. On the day of the coupon craze everything else has been overshadowed by a regional (US only) ad. It basically congested Twitter.

    It was like a traffic jam on Twitter. Twitter was jammed with one single message.

    All the social news interfaces showed several instances of it, the KFC site, the original Oprah message and repopts dealing with it.

    On this day I finally lost faith in Twitter as tool to measure what’s important in a particular moment. Now who cares you could ask. As long as the advertiser’s message has come through that well it doesn’t matter. Well, was it really a success from a marketing perspective? Speaking in SEO terms it was a hugely succesful link or Twitter bait.

    Brand engagement on Twitter is not a short term bait and switch tactic though.

    I guess the goal was to make people visit KFC and bring along more people without coupons as well or make them come back later and buy. With the failure of providing enough free food for all people who participated this goal has failed in many cases. Many people have been ostracized. Just imagine visiting KFC and being turned away like a beggar.

    What are the tasks of a brand on Twitter?

    1. Branding
    2. Connecting with your fans and potential customers
    3. Conversation
    4. Offering discounts
    5. Customer service and listening to “the social media phone”

    KFC did something else, it threw freebies into a crowd hitting people onto their heads. More than that: It felt like the day when for the first time the number of spam messages outnumbered the genuine emails back in the days. Shortly after I installed my first filters.

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    I help people with blogs, social media & search. I help you succeed on the Web. I've been online publishing for 15 years. I started back in 1997.

    5 Responses to “Twitter Friday: Oprah’s KFC Coupons Congested Twitter”

    1. Shirley says:

      Why is it that kfc is putting a time frame on when you can use the coupon? The time frame is from 1:pm -4:pm when most people are at work and can’t leave for lunch because we work in hospitals. Thanks for the coupons. I’ll use on the weekend.

    2. jeff says:

      or maybe what is important to the world is reflected by twitter it just didn’t match your preconcieved expectations in this case?

    3. [...] and news reports have reported Tweet volumes overwhelming Twitter from Oprah’s huge following. Twitter Friday: Oprah’s KFC Coupons Congested Twitter | SEOptimise All of that fuss over a 2.99 chicken meal! [...]

    4. kay young says:

      What a fiasco!. My husband and I are senior citizens and seldom if ever eat in a KFC, but we thought we would give the Oprah offer a try. We waited until Wed. the 13th to miss the crunch of chicken eaters. We live in a town of 9,000 so we thought the NYCtype riots would not be happening here. As I came in the door, I noticed there was one other couple in the restaurant and maybe someone going through the drive-in. BUT! We WERE turned away, yes like beggars, and were told to fill out a bunch of questions in order to get a “rain-check ” sometime in the summer. I asked to speak to a manager. An elderly lady who looked quite down-trodden faced us and told us there was nothing she could do. I asked if the chicken was available? “Of course,” she replied, “We always have it.” I explained that we didn’t often come here, and this was a perfect time to make us happy enough that we might return again and again, but chances of that happening were now slim to none. She said she was sorry, but corporate would not permit her to feed us. Oh Well! I had left over meat loaf in the frig at home and it was greattttttttttttttttt.

    5. Well, that’s what happens when marketers don’t do their homework and underestimate the power of social media. KFC surely slipped up, but only time will tell how badly.

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