Social Media Bribery

The latest traditional advertising push tactic in social media sheep’s clothing is the new “Become a Fan of Woody” campaign by TGIFriday’s. The long and short of it is that if you become a fan on Facebook of this guy by the end of the month – and they reach a half-million fans – then everyone gets a free burger.

Hey, at least they can say they have a social media strategy, right?

So what’s going to happen when the end of the month comes along and everyone gets their free burger? Do you think they will remain fans of Woody? Do you think that TGIFriday’s will be able to keep the attention of 500,000 people? What does success look like?

This is social media bribery. And it’s a desperate attempt to throw a party by giving away free food and then hoping to god that people stick around. Guess what? They’re outta as soon as the next freebie comes along. Good luck in holding their attention, let alone them becoming a fan beyond clicking a button on Facebook.

As long as there are channels to reach people, there will be marketers trying to figure out how to manipulate them and pushing out messages as fast and as hard as they can.

Good luck with that.

38 Responses to “Social Media Bribery”

  1. September 14, 2009 at 8:43 am, myrssbuddy (RSS Feed) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Social Media Bribery [link to post]

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  2. September 14, 2009 at 9:17 am, websuccessdiva (Maria Reyes-McDavis) said:

    FriendFeed Comment


    Social Media Bribery ([link to post]) http://friendfeed.com/e/79152bff-ad29-4bba-b39b-01148030fdfa

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  3. September 14, 2009 at 10:24 am, Cara Keithley said:

    I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I am increasingly annoyed by everyone–from companies to my regular Facebook friends–constantly badgering me to become “fans” of something. Rarely does this really mean anything about my engagement. Do you have any examples of how other companies and organizations are using the Facebook fan pages to spur genuine engagement?

    Reply

  4. September 14, 2009 at 11:00 am, Brad Schwarzenbach said:

    Ha! This isn’t too far from what we refer to as the myth of paid search in our SEO/SEM eBook: http://blog.tippingpointlabs.com/2009/09/tmda-an-seosem-e-book/

    The kind of traffic and attention that this sort of thing generates is incredibly hollow and misses the point of social media all together. Promos like these have nothing to do with being social.

    Their hope is that they’ll come for the food but stay for the ambience, so to speak. However, it has to be a question of initial motivation. If TGIF’s wants to build a REAL community, it has to have a foundation built on something that is longer-lasting than a free hamburger… like REAL relationships. Pardon me for being a bit vulgar but this free hamburger thing is like a social media one night stand, destined for temporary pleasure but having no long term value.

    Reply

  5. September 14, 2009 at 11:30 am, BethHarte (Beth Harte) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Social Media Bribery: [link to post] Ah… @SpikeJones took the words outta my mouth. I am NOT friending Woody! And the cost of ads?!

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  6. September 14, 2009 at 11:42 am, Sonny Gill said:

    It’s amazing that companies think they can ‘buy’ a community of loyal fans/evangelists/etc. Ironically enough, take a look at their FB wall and see what their adoring fans are saying about them.

    Reply

  7. September 14, 2009 at 12:10 pm, gavinbaker (Gavin Baker) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Reading: “Brains On Fire Blog » Blog Archive » Social Media Bribery” ([link to post])

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  8. September 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm, Justin said:

    I’m glad you called them out on on this, because I actually thought about you and this blog as soon as I saw the commercial.

    Do they actually think having a bunch of “fans” on facebook will help them in any way whatsoever? Hell, i’ll click the “become a fan” button for a free burger, and I haven’t stepped foot in a TGIFriday’s in about 8 years. Actually, now that I type this, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even bother looking for the page and becoming a fan.

    Reply

  9. September 14, 2009 at 2:41 pm, john moore (from Brand Autopsy) said:

    This is a “wimpy” marketing stunt. Whereas Wimpy said, “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.’ … TGI Friday’s is hoping we friend them today for a hamburger next Tuesday. Ugh. Nice catch Spike.

    Reply

  10. September 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm, David Moore said:

    I posted the comments below on my Facebook Fan page. Thought you’d appreciate.

    Are you a fan of Woody? This is the lame TGIFriday’s attempt at social media. They get 500,000 fans and you get a free burger. Where is the value after that? More free stuff? Or one and done?

    The age of new social media marketing is about relationships and the value in that. TGIF is trying to buy friends. That’s sad. We don’t have one close, but it would mean more if each local TGIF had fans. That way a community would be built. TGIF could host the Fan Parties, give away some stuff, but the ripple effect would be a community of relationships. TGIF would be providing value beyond the free burger.

    Reply

  11. September 15, 2009 at 3:57 am, yinka olaito said:

    A strategy may get an individual the quantity for a short time but the quality will be lacking and sooner than later the figure will vanish

    Reply

  12. September 15, 2009 at 5:26 am, Casey said:

    Sadly, I work part-time for a restaurant that is guilty of this same type of “social media bribery.” They created a facebook fan page in the hopes of gaining more customer loyalty by offering “Facebook Fan Specials.” Every week there is a different special for the facebook fans of the restaurant and the special is displayed nowhere in the restaurant, only on the facebook page. If the customers come into the restaurant and tell the cashier they are a facebook fan, they receive the special deal. My manager was convinced that this would up there fan base by 250 fans in just a few days. However, what he didn’t understand is there was no motivation to become a facebook fan because no proof or effort had to be made by the customer to receive the the deal! All they had to do was come in and SAY they were facebook fans, so sadly our fan base only grew by about 100 in a week. Social media bribery doesn’t always work, even for a short time, if it is not executed correctly.

    Reply

  13. September 15, 2009 at 5:26 am, jaybaer (Jason Baer) said:

    Twitter Comment


    [link to post] Great post on “social media bribery” by @spikejones

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  14. September 15, 2009 at 5:38 am, Cheryl Andonian said:

    I had the exact same reaction to this “campaign” and blogged about it yesterday… http://bit.ly/OthnN My prediction: when the food runs out the party’s over. What, they found it too hard to get real fans based on the things that matter like good food, great service service, superb atmosphere? It’s pathetic to have to hire a fan (I not a real fan, I just play one on TV) and giveaway free food and then exclaim: Look we have 500,000 fans on Facebook. Just like all those Twitter folks who think it’s just a numbers game. I think Woody will be looking for a new acting gig and new friends in the very near future.

    Reply

  15. September 15, 2009 at 5:39 am, CourtSpencer (Courtney Spencer) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Opinion: Social Media Bribery [link to post] #socialmedia

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  16. September 15, 2009 at 6:33 am, Bryan Jones said:

    This campaign makes me cringe. It really feels like a dad trying to be hip and cool around a bunch of his teenager’s friends.

    On top of that, I cringe because some poor Creatives were forced into this concept by an out of touch CD trying to do “Social.” [I have no knowledge that this actually happened here, but I've been on the wrong end of that situation enough to know what it smells like] AND THE WORST PART is that this will work. If the measurement of success is 500,000 fans, that is.

    A legitimate “Social” campaign that’s in play right now that I really like and respect is the one that Zappos is running. Pure customer service.

    I’m afraid we are in for a few more years of this nonsense. After that, we’ll probably go back to the days of trying to re-produce Subservient Chicken.

    Thanks for starting this discussion, it is much needed.

    Reply

  17. September 15, 2009 at 6:45 am, John Lane said:

    As mentioned in the post and comments, this is unsustainable marketing. They may make their monthly goal with all the drinks and appetizers that go with the free burgers, but the next month will not be overflowing with returning fans. Big effort for a short blaze of glory.

    Curious to me is the use of Woody in the first place. At least when The Body Shop did a similar promotion (i.e. get so many new followers on Twitter and everyone gets a coupon), they used the brand name to do it. Is TGIFriday’s brand so poorly viewed that they had to create a surrogate brand “personality” to draw attention? If so, what is the plan to move those fans *cleanly* from Woody to TGIF when this campaign is over and Woody has gone the way of the Dell dude? Well… they’ll have the email address of 500,000+ fans that they can spam. Another unsustainable practice.

    Thanks for starting this conversation.

    @johnvlane

    Reply

  18. September 15, 2009 at 7:29 am, Brant Collins said:

    Big results is what every client wants. I tell my clients up front there is no “silver bullet” or “secret” to Social Media. Just good old hard work. Hard work and hours keeping the conversation current and engaging.

    @brantc

    Reply

  19. September 15, 2009 at 11:33 am, jeffhora (Jeff Hora) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Manipulation is NOT a strategy – Social Media Bribery [link to post] #brainsonfire #UWMCDM

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  20. September 15, 2009 at 11:34 am, jdecesaro (John DeCesaro) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Brains on Fire equates latest TGIFriday campaign to social media bribery: [link to post] What do you think?

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  21. September 15, 2009 at 11:35 am, twitadelic (Jacqueline Cox) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Food for thought! A good example of why Social Media bribery alone just won’t work: [link to post]

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  22. September 15, 2009 at 11:36 am, jhpadv (jhP Advertising) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Social Media Bribery [link to post] Check out the comments on the Fan page for consumer reactions http://bit.ly/ptA98

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  23. September 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm, olivier blanchard said:

    Sure, it’s weak, but how is that different from a BOGO offer or a “club” style promo? (Join our community = get free swag, special discounts, etc.)

    Will this be an effective campaign? I don’t know. Probably not. But while it doesn’t strike me as being a particularly original, inspired or exciting use of social media, it may get enough people to think about TGIF long enough to go eat at TGIF, and while they’re there re-discover TGIF, and choose to RETURN to TGIF. That seems like the plan, and it may not be a bad one. TGIF isn’t Apple or Nike or Ford. It’s hard to get really passionate about a chain of $8 burger restaurants. Different market, different sales cycles, different competitive environment from lovebrands. (Especially if management is looking primarily for short term impact right now.)

    This is basically a “come back to check us out, and the first burger’s on us” campaign. Not super well executed, sure, but not horrible either. I see your point, but I wouldn’t call special promotions like closeout sales, BOGO, rewards programs, coupons or free burgers “bribery”. I usually have no problem throwing bad campaigns under the bus, but from where I stand, this one doesn’t deserve that harsh a treatment. Just my two cents.

    Reply

  24. September 17, 2009 at 5:56 am, John Lane said:

    In regard to Olivier’s comment, I think the difference is in the public (social) nature of the execution.

    BOGO (sale) and coupons (offer) are essentially one-time, private engagements which a person may choose to tell their friends about. A reward program — still a personal engagement — is perfect for the people who are already your fans, whether on Facebook or not. People who join DSW’s reward program love shopping for bargain shoes and are already coming in on a regular basis. Same goes for Barnes & Noble fans.

    But using a Facebook fan page as a registration method takes things public on your behalf. It’s no longer the company offering you something for being a fan already, or to come check them out… it’s the company using you as proof that others should check them out. And I would imagine that after this hoarding of meaningless fandom, those that chose to give up their email, avatar and name for a free lunch will be used again in a “look at all our fans!” advertising kind of way… even though most will never choose to return until the next free burger is offered.

    Bribery or not can be argued as semantics. This campaign will not provide long term gain for company or patrons. When’s the last time you looked at your friends Fan pages, saw a company and said, “hey — their a fan of _____. I think I’ll give them a try.” And with the surrogate Woody in place, TGIFriday’s isn’t even setting this up as an entry to a reward program for those that do become true, real-world fans.

    Reply

  25. September 17, 2009 at 10:29 am, Colby Gergen said:

    Like Olivier said though, how many “true, real-world fans” are there of an $8 burger chain? I know it’s a lame marketing stunt, but there are reasons it’ll work. For one, it’s targeted at a younger crowd, like college students (like me), who LOVE free food (I would know). That alone will get a bunch of us to sign up (I didn’t because I use Fan Pages to support my friends’ bands, ventures, etc- but different story). If a bunch of my friends get a coupon for a free burger and ask me to go with them, I’m going to go. After all, we’re all social creatures, and in college, “face time” is important. What happens if I go and like the burger? I’ll go back, and I’ll invite friends, and that means this stunt worked (in this instance).

    I find the ads annoying and Woody obnoxious, and would have executed the campaign differently (no TV spots, for one), but this will probably work.

    Do I like TGIF, the brand, a little less? No doubt.
    Did it get me thinking of the last time I went and how I liked the food? Yeah, it did.
    Is this campaign lame? Yes.
    But probably effective.

    Reply

  26. September 17, 2009 at 10:33 am, ColbyWG (Colby Gergen) said:

    Twitter Comment


    just commented on @SpikeJones take on TGIF’s FB campaign, would love for more college kids to comment on this… [link to post]

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  27. September 18, 2009 at 7:17 am, sedaozmen (seda irengü özmen) said:

    FriendFeed Comment


    Social M… [link to post]

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  28. September 18, 2009 at 9:02 am, virtualoptions (Virtual Options) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Great Example of #SM Bribery – from #BrainsonFire – [link to post]

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  29. September 18, 2009 at 9:31 am, websuccessdiva (Maria Reyes McDavis) said:

    Twitter Comment


    @Avinio It directs you here [link to post]
    or did I miss something?

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  30. September 18, 2009 at 9:32 am, HollyHoffman (Holly Hoffman) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Agreed: @brainsonfire hits on something that makes my nose wrinkle – brands bribing fans to join social movements [link to post]

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  31. September 18, 2009 at 8:51 pm, Planner Reads » Blog Archive » Social media marketers are a shallow bunch said:

    [...] community by offering members free pastries. Spike Jones of Brains on Fire calls efforts like these “social media bribery” and rightly points out that they have more in common with old school churn-and-burn promotional [...]

    Reply

  32. September 23, 2009 at 7:13 am, Kapil said:

    Really sad but yeah.,its a true database collection exercise :)

    Reply

  33. September 24, 2009 at 7:39 am, Ben said:

    MediaCurves.com conducted a study on 252 viewers of a recent T.G.I. Friday’s ad which promotes its new Facebook campaign. The results found that that the majority believe the promotion will increase favorability for the T.G.I. Friday’s brand. After watching the ad, 71% of Facebook users indicated that they would become a “fan” of Friday’s Facebook spokesman, “Woody” to receive the promotional offer of a free Jack Daniel’s hamburger. More in depth results can be seen at:
    http://www.mediacurves.com/Advertising/J7568-TGI/Index.cfm
    Thanks,
    Ben

    Reply

  34. September 29, 2009 at 1:31 pm, John White said:

    I can see the headline now: “Large Company Uses Web (Free Resource to Everybody) for Evil Instead of Niceness.”

    Come off it, folks.

    If TGIF’s promotion is such an abomination in social media orthodoxy, then at least one of us should make lemons out of the lemonade by pitching them on a proper socmed strategy in the next few months. They obviously have marketing money to spend.

    Reply

  35. September 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm, cassie_holman (Cassie) said:

    Twitter Comment


    Fbook Fan pages…(another ex why I’m not a fan: [link to post]) Im curious for ex’s of companies doing it well?

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  36. September 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm, Tales from the microsite crypt: the rise of social zombies said:

    [...] activated only for a new product launch or a YouTube channel with the 500 views viral wannabe. This “social media bribery” is again leaving pieces of rotten digital flesh all over the [...]

    Reply

  37. October 05, 2009 at 12:27 am, ian_mckee (Ian McKee) said:

    Twitter Comment


    “is loving Brains On Fire Blog » Social Media Bribery” ([link to post])

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  38. July 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm, Bribery’s Relationship with Online Success | Socially Orange!!! said:

    [...] http://www.brainsonfire.com/blog/index.php/2009/09/14/social-media-bribery/ by Spike published in the Brains on Fire Blog 0 Comments – Leave a comment! « Previous Post [...]

    Reply

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