In 2014, Pizza Hut underwent a total rehaul of their brand, with new branding, new ingredients, and new product design, with focus on “premium flavor.” For marketing, they needed to answer the question, “how do we tell the world pizza has changed?” (#pizzahaschanged) They saw their main challenge as maintaining relevancy with millennials.
Their social team is comprised of 6 people. No one on the team had experience in social media prior to joining the team. Their policy is to “hire talented people;” the technical execution will come later.
They have a customer service team in Joplin which replies to EVERY Facebook and Twitter post, with particular attention during “key pizza time:” during dinner hours, then two hours after, when people often start complimenting/complaining about their dining experience. They have six agents trained on “social care,” who monitor the phone hotline, email, and social channels, but not 24/7.
They use Spredfast for their content distribution, and post “highly targeted content” 8-12 times a day, with content generated primarily in-house, though they also partner with influencers with established social following. (More on that later.)
The day they launched their rebrand, they had 22 people “on deck” to respond to social media feedback. They had 50 pieces of content ready, including giveaways and TV campaign extensions. They “blanketed” their social channels with pics of the new product design.
They put concerted effort into identifying influencers who successfully use social platforms, then tap them to help tell the PH story. “YouTubers are better at YouTube than we are; Instagrammers are better at Instagram than we are. They know their medium and audience better than we do. Choose the best creators for the medium.”
PH identified 6 YouTubers with distinct, diverse followings (music, gaming, lifestyle, etc.), and invited them to their test kitchens to create their own signature pizzas, filmed the entire process, then put those pizzas on their national menu. This gave these influencers the chance to directly impact PH product, and gave their fans the opportunity to interact with their “YouTube BFFs.” PH was able to then directly tie sales of those signature pizzas to this social campaign. The campaign was a trending topic when it launched. They said working with YouTubers with diverse audiences was “profoundly impactful,” and plan to grow the “co-created flavor pioneer” program this year.
One YouTube team they partnered with was the Rooster Teeth gaming community, and their content saw huge engagement, particularly on Reddit. PH also got a huge insight into their audience – they were not aware that the most loyal demographic of their customer base is gamers. They plan to use this insight to inform future campaigns. I’m not sure of the timing of the launch of the app, but she mentioned they have an XBOX app for ordering pizza: “fish where the fish are.” PH tracks “robust purchasing data,” including purchase history and demographics.
PH also teamed up with Paramount for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie last summer, and pitched them with the idea of creating a life-size version of the pizza launcher tank that was a popular children’s toy in the 90s, and driving it across country to Comic Con in California. This was a huge risk in terms of dollars and social and press attention, but it paid off in a big way. They let Con goers launch fake pizzas at targets, and it was hugely popular at the event, and generated massive press and social attention: 130,000 Con attendees, 280M impressions for the brand. The campaign was created and executed by the social team, because they considered it all social content. They used fake pizzas, so they wouldn’t have sauce and cheese flying everywhere, which could have resulted in negative impressions of their products.
PH also recognized that Instagrammers have a better understanding of what is popular and gets engagement on IG, so they have partnered with several popular IG’ers in Dallas (PH home base) to take pictures for them, and found that the pictures they took were not what they would have come up with in-house. The photos include the pizza/product, but don’t give it the starring role; they show how pizza is a part of the life they’re already living. PH pays the IG’ers for the photos, and posts the pictures to the PH IG channel with photo credit to the IG’ers, then the IG’ers also post to their own accounts, for extended reach.
Purchase conversion is the main business driver for any PH content, followed by engagement and brand affinity. Their social media ad program is separate from their social media content program. The content program has different metrics, and is more focused on affinity and engagement, while the ads are more about conversion to buying decisions.
PH’s social audience is 33% (don’t quote her on that stat) Hispanic, and they work with a Spanish-speaking agency to speak to that audience, including targeting ads in FB.
They do not currently use Snapchat, as it is not as measurable. They are not a “hipster brand like Taco Bell,” who is on SC.
They do a lot of work with focus groups, but the best and cheapest focus group is their Twitter followers – they aren’t afraid to tell you EXACTLY what they think. Several menu additions have come directly from social feedback, such as BBQ sauce drizzle and using fresh spinach.
The social team does content brainstorming around their product launch calendar, as well as pop culture/holidays. They also brainstorm monthly around their “cultural tentpoles,” as well as morning and evening touch-bases around daily events in the world/pop culture.
The June SMCKC breakfast topic is, “Turning the Choir Into Preachers: How to Empower Others to Sing Your Praises,” featuring @JakesJournal, Senior Manager, Public Relations at Children’s Mercy (formerly of Garmin).