Digital & Social Media

Red Lobster’s Formation Flounder


What Happened:

For Red Lobster, there was a lot of off-field action this Super Bowl Sunday. The restaurant reported a 33% increase in sales the day of the big game this year. All thanks to one of the world’s superstars: Beyoncé. The beloved singer mentioned the seafood chain in her new song “Formation.” After the online video release Saturday, the Twittersphere eagerly awaited a response from Red Lobster. For the first time, Red Lobster was trending on Twitter, receiving over 42,000 mentions in one hour. But the restaurant did not issue a response for what is the equivalent of an eternity in Internet-speak: eight hours! The response was notable only for its tardiness and lack of creativity, causing Red Lobster to miss out on a mouth-watering social media opportunity.

What This Means for Brands:

It is hardly surprising that an endorsement by a megastar like Beyoncé would lead to a spike in sales. But many expected Red Lobster to respond sooner to the mention and to express more enthusiasm via social media. Today, consumers love to see brands engage with celebrities spontaneously – the interaction seems authentic and is fun to follow on social media. Brands should be conscious of this and be sure they are on their ‘A’ game–receiving real-time alerts for social media mentions and responding within minutes rather than hours.

Tone is also important. The chain broke its silence by tweeting: “Cheddar Bey Biscuits” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?#Formation @Beyonce.” Not only did the initial response by Red Lobster fail to impress Twitter users, the chain responded to blowback in a way some perceived as unfriendly. To excuse the eight-hour delay, it tweeted: “Our bad. We’re really busy for some reason. #ThanksB.” This was viewed as defensive and a little dismissive of the favor the star had done them.

A timely, fun response is crucial for establishing a brand’s personality in the social media sphere. But who knows, maybe they were too busy filling all those orders for “Cheddar Bey Biscuits.”