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KFC shares Colonel Sanders stories via social networks

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Brands & Campaigns

With thousands of Twitter followers and millions of Facebook “likes,” KFC has built a solid relationship with its customers and increased its fan base. We spoke with Rick Maynard, KFC’s public relations manager, to find out how the company has cultivated its brand on social networks and how KFC plans to keep it up this year. An edited version of that conversation follows.

How is KFC using Twitter and other social-media forms to connect with consumers?

KFC uses the @kfc_colonel Twitter presence to connect with fans in a genuine way, consistent with our “Tastes So Good” brand position. The KFC Twitter feed is popular because it’s fun, it’s not overly sales-focused, and we’ve made a commitment to a real dialogue with our followers. It’s more interesting for our fans – and for us – if it’s a real two-way communication and not just their reading what we want them to read. (And of course it helps that we give away free chicken now and then.)

The KFC Facebook page has seen explosive growth, and we’re approaching 3 million “likes.” We have restaurants in more than 100 countries and our Facebook page reflects that international audience. One minute, you can be assisting someone from the U.K. with a menu question and the next minute you’re telling a follower the location of the closest KFC in Sioux City, Iowa. The page also gets lots of KFC-themed photos from around the world, ranging from kids who dress up like the Colonel for Halloween to KFC tattoos. (Really.)

Which social-media channel has had the best results?

KFC is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. All of them have proven to be great tools to connect with our customers in ways that are relevant to their lifestyles today.

We’re particularly proud of a recent program where we awarded a $20,000 Colonel’s Scholars college scholarship to a high school senior based on a 140-character Twitter “application.” The program generated nearly 3,000 tweet applications, coast-to-coast news coverage from CNN to USA Today and raised a tremendous amount of awareness for a wonderful program that awards 75 $20,000 college scholarships each year. We creatively used social media to reach students and families and make them aware of a program that emphasizes two things Colonel Sanders was passionate about –- kids and education.

What social media plans does KFC have for 2011?

On the Colonel’s 120th birthday in 2010, we commissioned a survey, which indicated that many younger people don’t know that the Colonel was a real person — they assume he is just a made-up corporate icon.

One of our social media priorities for the year is to tell the amazing stories about the real Colonel Sanders. We want to share these stories with younger people who haven’t heard them before. As our one of our franchisees said, “The Colonel was a living, breathing, wildly successful entrepreneur who impacted our national cuisine. The Colonel was a marketing genius, even though he had only a sixth-grade education. I’m really proud that we are embarking on this effort to celebrate his many accomplishments.”

SmartBrief’s Linsey Isaacs contributed to this report.

Image via Facebook.