The Denny's Effect | Macleod & Co. Minneapolis Digital Marketing Agency

The Denny’s Effect: How a Bold Social Strategy Turned America’s Diner into Our Favorite Brand on Twitter

If you aren’t following Denny’s on Twitter, do yourself a favor and start now.

When I first discovered Denny’s Twitter feed — I’ll be honest — I spent an embarrassing amount of time scrolling through their tweets and laughing to myself.

Now, I don’t eat at Denny’s often, aside from some late nights with friends in high school and a few early mornings with my grandma. Denny’s has always been the type of restaurant that makes me wonder, ”Who in the world is at Denny’s right now?”

I continued to feel that way… until I discovered their Twitter feed. I was shocked, amused, possibly in love. What the feeling was didn’t really matter; the bottom line is that it made me feel something.

Now, every time I see the Denny’s logo, I feel that same something. I don’t sprint into their nearest establishment and start devouring pancakes; that’s not how this works.

That's Not How This Works | The Denny's Effect | Macleod & Co. Minneapolis Digital Marketing Agency

It’s about creating a lasting connection with your customers.

Most of us believe that we make purchase decisions based solely on logic. Well… we don’t. We make decisions emotionally and justify them with logic.

Twenty years ago, it would have been pretty difficult to convince someone that the way their chicken spent its free time before it was beheaded justified a more expensive price tag — back then, nobody cared whether their chicken spent the entirety of its life in a tiny cage before they started gnawing away at its bones.

But now, “free-range” and “cage-free” chickens are ubiquitous, and consumers are paying more for them. Why? There’s an emotional component: people want to feel at ease, absolved of guilt; they want to feel like responsible members of society. Basically, they want to feel better than other people. And they’ll pay more for it.

Dealing in emotions is a complicated game

And it’s one you shouldn’t play unless you’re prepared to be held accountable in the court of public opinion. If you come off as disingenuous or if your company’s actions conflict with your messaging, you’re in for a rough ride.

Customer experience of the past focused entirely on the immediate interaction with a product or service. Today’s consumers grew up with marketing. We know it when we see it, and if it isn’t genuine or captivating, we’ll find something that is.

I visited the IHOP and Perkins Twitter accounts to check out the competition. What I found were some cringeworthy attempts to imitate Denny’s. They were witty, sure, but they lacked a certain zing. Why? Because, honestly, they’re still playing it safe.

If you choose to be bold, be bold.

Take Wendy’s Twitter, for example. Their marketing efforts have traditionally featured some lighthearted humor. Now, they ruthlessly troll their biggest competitor, both on social media and in large campaigns (did you see their 2018 Super Bowl ad? Savage.)

It works because they don’t hold back. Burger King has been trying to get in a good jab at McDonald’s for years, but they always come up short. Why? Because ads like these are soft and safe.

The Denny’s Effect is real. It’s casting off the “appeal to everyone” attitude. It’s escaping the dull world of neutrality. It’s creating an emotional connection with people outside of the sell.

Looking for more great Twitter accounts to follow?

These brands are killing it:
Totino’s Pizza Rolls
Jimmy John’s

Even the police:
Dixon, IL Police Department
Wyoming, MN Police Department

Written by: Sam Calcagno, Content Creator. Macleod & Co. is a premier full-service Twin Cities marketing agency, with a special emphasis on digital, brand and the strategy that unites the two. We partner with businesses of all shapes and sizes, from startup hustlers to established empires, to create and execute strategies that deliver results.

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