Social media marketing to millennials can be a tricky feat. There’s lingo to be learned, creativity to be nurtured, plus strategy to be planned and executed.
However, even when embracing these elements, things can go wrong. Terribly wrong. International House of Pancakes (IHOP) has been in the news recently for their off-color attempt at humor on social media, particularly on Twitter.
It’s not clear whether they have an intern working behind-the-scenes or if they deliberately are trying to be controversial (if they are, it is working).
But, in comparing their presence with their fast-casual, pancake-wielding counterpart, Denny’s, they are falling short(stack).
While both IHOP and Denny’s seem to be aiming at the millennial audience on social media, they are approaching the process in different manners.
With this in mind, here’s a look at what IHOP is doing currently and how they could improve, coupled with how and why Denny’s is taking the (pan)cake in terms of their social presence.
Here’s a sample of IHOP’s tweets:
DEEZ are NUTS pic.twitter.com/eqfq1gFm01
— IHOP (@IHOP) October 9, 2015
but why is everyone jockin us? breakfast all day since the day we were born #Flex
— IHOP (@IHOP) October 6, 2015
It is clear IHOP is trying to use hip language and appeal to a younger audience. The issue here is that there is no real context, so the comments can be interpreted as strange or off-putting.
Taking it a step further, some of their tweets go as far as conveying sexual undertones:
The only sidepiece worth writing home about pic.twitter.com/yIAx0Gs3eV
— IHOP (@IHOP) September 4, 2015
Pancakes, you look good, won't you back that stack up.
— IHOP (@IHOP) October 7, 2014
Eventually, IHOP said their tweets had been “dumb and immature” and do not reflect what IHOP stands for. Nevertheless, the tweets were never removed. Although they’ve shifted to be less risqué, it’s clear they’re still trying to go for a lighter tone and embrace pop culture, but they still have a way to go in doing it effectively.
In transitioning to Denny’s social presence, there’s a lot of which to take note. Not only is Denny’s active on traditional channels like Facebook and Twitter, but they also have a Tumblr blog that’s hilarious.
Similar to IHOP, Denny’s is going for a fun vibe. The reason they succeed is they take images, current events, and jokes, and apply them directly to their brand. Their blog is rife with puns, too.
Even though most of Denny’s posts are silly, there is context behind them. Plus, they’re all presented in a manner that is easily interpreted and appealing. This content doesn’t run the risk of being offensive.
This fall, Pumpkin and Pie are back in: PIE FOR A PIE. A story of trust, crust, & revenge à la mode. [this film has not yet been written]
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) October 17, 2015
They also incorporate the aura of constantly making fun of themselves, which people tend to enjoy. Not only does this humanize the brand, it makes people laugh. IHOP, contrarily, mostly comes across like they’re trying to be funny, but aren’t quite reaching the finish line.
Denny’s also succeeds in having their online personality resonate during conversations with fans. An Imgur gallery was created highlighting some of these wins.
Denny’s is well poised to be one of the companies setting the bar when it comes to marketing to millennials.
Taco Bell is known is be a leader in this area, but with Denny’s personality and creativity, they’re not far behind.
What do you like most about Denny’s social media presence and what are some other ways you think IHOP could improve?