Friend or Foe?

Burger King in Norway recently decided to get rid of its ‘unreliable’ fans on Facebook. It launched the ‘Whopper Sell Out’ and offered fans a free McDonald’s Big Mac. Strange but true.

The local BK branch noticed that not all of its 38,000 Facebook followers were loyal – some were fans only hoping to get free food. Others followed just to give negative reviews and rave about McDonald’s.

On a mission to ‘cut the fat’ literally, and to separate the real fans from the fake fans-  the fast food chain gave all of its Facebook followers a choice. Either, like the new Burger King Facebook page or get a free McDonald’s Big Mac. Those who chose the Big Mac received a free coupon in the mail, and a “good bye” letter in which they were told they had been banned ‘for eternity’ from becoming a Burger King Facebook fan.

(buisinessinsider.com)
(buisinessinsider.com)

The results? Quite drastic- as you can imagine. Burger King lost more than three quarters of its followers. Only 8,000 diehard fans turned down the free food to prove their brand loyalty.

When we think of boosting social media marketing, this ‘Whopper Sellout’ seems counterintuitive but, was it necessarily a bad move? It makes us think…

What is the role of social media in brand building? Today, the number of fans a brand may have seems like a popularity contest. Gathering as many fans as possible on Facebook or followers on Twitter or on Instagram shows a brands online traction.

Some brands like Louis Vuitton have upwards of 16 million Facebook fans – but what does that really mean? Why do brands chase such numbers? And,  with the 30,000 lost fans on Facebook, did Burger King Norway really lose? Or have they been very clever in creating a loyal army of fans?

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