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T.G.I. Fridays Steps In It Socially?

T.G.I. Fridays …  what can you say but “ubiquitous?” They’re everywhere. From every other street corner of any slightly metropolitan city to parodies in cult films, they’ve become the Walgreens of the “casual dining” industry. If there’s a cross section of people and commerce, they’ll be there, with silly stripes, suspenders, and buttons-a-blinking to welcome you. And as expected, T.G.I. Fridays is now on Facebook. But they’ve taken a little different approach to their Facebook efforts than others I’ve seen.

tgi_fridays_webHave you met “Woody?” No? Well until earlier this month, no one else had either.

Woody is an “average guy” looking to pick up 500,000 fans before the end of September, and if he’s successful, those fans will receive a free Jack Daniels burger!

Now who doesn’t want a free burger?

To round out the social media-focused campaign, Woody has a few television spots running regionally, as well as posted in the Videos tab on the Fan page. So far, the page has a over 100,000 Fans, and is expected to reach their half million goal by the end of the month.

Now, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Pizza Hut have all hit the 1 Million mark simply extending their current campaigns to the social media platform.  And from a social media marketing standpoint, this isn’t a groundbreaking approach.  But the fact that T.G.I. Fridays has created a character and campaign solely for Facebook is quite unique.

But that’s where my compliments take a turn to skepticism…

If you look at the entry form on the Woody fan page, they’re requesting email  addresses to send the free burger coupons to when the 500,000 has been reached.  Can anyone say marketing database? Sure, I’m okay with that… But then, there’s the next click.

tgi_fridays_fbWhen you submit your email address, the application asks for access to your Facebook profile information, photos, as well as all of your friends’ information!

For a free burger? No thank you.

Marketing database gathering? Phishing?  I don’t know, but that last step seemed to cross the line for me

Social media is about building community. Social media MARKETING is about building a community around your brand and it’s offerings.

I ask T.G.I. Fridays how will offering up all of my Facebook information help me feel closer to your brand? Sure, I get a free burger out of the deal (maybe), then what? (Enter your own spammy nightmare scenario here.)

Social media has made how people share personal information pretty liberal, but the line needs to be drawn somewhere. If companies want to use social media marketing to have me join in the conversation, they need to show authenticity, engagement and trustworthiness, not just dangle a free burger in my face…book.

Keep Cooking – TRUE Branding communities!
Andrew B. Clark
– The Brand Chef

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