You know Denny’s? That chain diner that you can find just about anywhere, with the commercials about pancakes and hamburgers and other innocuous foods, and the plain style interior? That one that’s basically the most unremarkable restaurant in all of the USA?
Denny’s has never been on my radar. Their food is okay. The service is okay. The advertising is just like any other advertising. They don’t hang a bunch of wacky stuff on the walls or boast huge portions or have any kind of mascot. Their brand has always been one of: “This is a restaurant. It has food. You can eat here.”
Yet lately, they’ve started popping up in my online life. While on social media in my own spare time, I’m starting to see tweets and Tumblr posts from the most unexpected source – Denny’s. Plain old, everyday Denny’s. But there’s nothing innocuous about these posts. What you read next may surprise you.
On social media, Denny’s is wackier than the wackiest stuff on the wall at one of those wacky-wall restaurants.
And not wacky in an annoying, trying-too-hard way, either. Denny’s is nailing it. On Tumblr especially, they’ve captured the tone and general spirit of the platform. They’ve acclimated to the climate, so to speak, capitalizing on trends, memes, widespread jokes, and using the same minimalist writing style that’s popular on the platform.
As a result, Denny’s is not only very popular on social media – with 64,000 followers on Twitter and around 40,000 on Tumblr – they’ve become the talk of the town. People not only talk about Denny’s on social media, they talk about Denny’s social media marketing on social media. Tumblr in particular makes it easy to respond to posts and make your response seen, with reblog comments visible to all followers. You can see how people are responding to Denny’s humor, and much of the response is widespread surprise and delight at the humanness of the brand – that such a previously faceless and dull restaurant would be able to show how well they get it.
Humor is often held up as the best way to advertise – funny ads often perform best, only ever beat out by the best sentimentality. At the same time, it’s been said that the true value of social media is the connection to your customers. What companies like Denny’s have done is combined these two principles into some kind of social media comedy or social performance art (feel free to spread those terms around) by bouncing off of real people.
Just like in nature, it seems like the best rewards in online marketing go to those who best adapt. Especially if you want to appeal to youth, you need to be on top of trends. Then you need to be willing to engage with said youth in an authentic (and hilarious) manner. This appears to be the key to social media marketing.