(Credit: Linqia )
McDonald's boosted store traffic by 23% — or 540,000 incremental visits — with a social influencer campaign aimed at raising awareness of its Halloween-themed sweepstakes. The burger chain also generated 98% positive sentiment with the effort around its "Trick.Treat.Win!" giveaway that ran Oct. 5-31, per a case study by influencer marketing company Linqia.
McDonald's partnered with 20 African-American influencers between the ages of 18 and 35 during a four-week period to promote the sweepstakes. The influencers shared one long-form blog post and multiple posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Linqia then selected top-performing organic content and boosted its distribution in social and display advertising.
Those posts spurred 82,400 engagements. To determine the results of the influencer campaign, Linqia partnered with location tracking firm Placed to record where people who had been exposed to an influencer post later visited a McDonald's restaurant.
McDonald's last year was the most visible brand on Twitter and Instagram, per a study of user photos posted on the social media platforms. Its positive results from its social media campaign for "Trick.Treat.Win!" parlayed that brand strength and showed how influencers can cut through ad clutter, reach target audiences and shift consumer behavior. A key part of the campaign was the distribution of organic content created by influencers in social and display ads.
"It's much more successful for us to take a part of our budget for the campaign and make sure we have paid social support for the influencer content," Joe Piaskowy, social engagement manager at McDonald's, said in the case study. "If we whitelist the influencer content, it does far better than us re-posting it."
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Sponsored influencer posts tend to generate higher engagement than non-sponsored posts. That's likely because influencers put more effort into creating high-quality posts when they're sponsored and because Instagram's algorithms give higher precedence to sponsored content, per a study by analytics firm InfluencerDB. However, the firm also found that engagement rates for Instagram influencers this year fell to all-time lows as the Facebook-owned app grows crowded with sponsored posts. The engagement rate for sponsored posts fell to 2.4% in Q1 2019 from 4% three years earlier, while the rate for non-sponsored posts slid to 1.9% from 4.5% for the comparable periods, per its study. The findings suggest that marketers must be selective about which influencer posts they sponsor.
The McDonald's influencer campaign for "Trick.Treat.Win!" also is notable for using the location data of mobile users to measure results. Location data play a key role in omnichannel sales with 70% of marketers using a mobile-first strategy for customer engagement, per a survey by marketing tech firm Blis. Location tracking has become controversial, with cities and states stepping up enforcement of privacy regulations. Banning the sale of location data of mobile users eliminates a source of revenue for telecommunications companies and apps that collect the information.
Promotional efforts like these have helped McDonald's to boost U.S. same-store sales by 5.7% in Q2 from a year earlier, beating analyst estimates of 4.5% growth. The restaurant chain attributed the growth to successful promotions like its "2 for $5 Mix and Match" deal and positive effects from its tech-focused renovations, CNBC reported. McDonald's this year bought machine learning company Dynamic Yield, and is adding its technology to drive-thru menus to offer items based on weather and time of day. The customized options led to a jump in average check size at 700 U.S. drive-thru locations where the technology was installed, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a conference call with analysts.
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