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Published March 27th 2017

Aspiring to be a Cool Brand on Social? Zoom in on Denny’s

Denny's has gone from America's Diner to meme-creating, emoji-speaking, haiki-tweetin' social media star. Kellan Terry looks at the data behind the success.

I remember when I discovered Denny’s. I’m not talking about the restaurant-chain, either. I’ve known the restaurant since I was a child. No, no. I’m talking about Denny’s Twitter account; a gem by all standards.

I follow journalists and news outlets to receive information swiftly. I follow photographers and their various inspirations because – secretly – I’m envious of their talent. I follow people who are funny, because who the hell doesn’t like to laugh, and that’s how I found Denny’s a couple years ago.

I came across a tweet from Denny’s that was retweeted by New York comedian, Desus, I follow who now co-hosts a show on Viceland. The tweet was legitimately funny, and it encompassed everything the engagement aspect of community management hopes to be.

This is the time to point out that engagement is only a singular part of community management. You can argue that customer service is more important than engagement on social, but this is not that blog post. I can guarantee that wherever that blog post exists there’s a line contained therein that cops-out and says “both are important.”

This post is more concerned with tone, and how that can drive engagement and flirt with virality.

Humor, while fun, is not for every brand. A common adage is “we’re not conducting open-heart surgery,” but if you’re a brand that literally deals with life and death situations – or situations of similar gravity – you’ll never be funny on social. Sorry.

If you’re a brand that is light-hearted, fun and “of the people” know that good humor is hard to come by. Plenty of brands are guilty of attempting to use the hottest slang and newest GIFs to show that they’re cool. However, these brands – more often than not – end up being mocked, or worse.

This is where Denny’s excels, and several weeks ago it had another Denny’s Moment. You’ve seen the tweet by now.

This one tweet racked up more than 121,000 retweets which contributed to nearly 60 million impressions.

This caused mentions of Denny’s to skyrocket on Twitter to nearly 52,000 mentions for the day of March 1st. The following day received an additional 49,600 mentions. This tweet created literal headlines – yes, plural.

Mentions of Denny’s leapt by more than 3,640-percent in day-over-day mentions from February 28th – March 1st.

Additionally, the sentiment-categorized mentions from March 1st and 2nd are overwhelmingly positive at 90 and 87.8-percent for those two days, respectively.

These two days, registering over 100,000 mentions combined, has pushed Denny’s sentiment since February 1st to a positive rate of 90.9-percent.

You can also see how this viral tweet dominates all of Denny’s top conversational trends on Twitter since February 1st.

It’s also important to point out that Denny’s is able to sustain engagement quite equally across gender. Looking at mentions dating back to February, you can see how the lines of male and female contributors are identical, even through the viral zoom in on the syrup sensation.

Women contributed slightly more than men, as women accounted for 54-percent of authors in Denny’s conversation.

Denny’s can achieve this social engagement success because this has been their tone on Twitter for years. Scroll through their tweets and you’ll laugh more than once. It’s ok to be irreverent.

Thanks to Denny’s previously set precedent of wise-cracking, haiku-loving posts on Twitter, they’ve earned more leeway when using the latest meme. Combine that humor and meme, and you get a viral social post that absolutely drives engagement, and contributes to other areas of the business, as well.

If you’re trying to be a cool brand on Twitter, don’t be afraid to swing and miss on a post.

Remember that you’re not saving lives, and keep with your tone when engagement is down. It also doesn’t hurt to attempt a haiku every now and again.

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