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Wendy’s microsite overloaded by popular Periscope stream with YouTube stars

The Wendy’s Co. saw its microsite for new seasonal drinks become overloaded during a promotional day with YouTube stars Rhett and Link on Periscope, suggesting brands may not be ready for the viewing power that social media influencers can bring to live-streaming applications.

Last Thursday, the food brand offered fans a full day of live-streaming and improvisations featuring Rhett and Link, who have amassed a significant following on YouTube with their humorous music video interpretations and sketches. The duo provided a behind-the-scenes perspective as they promoted Wendy’s new Fruitea Chillers in a way that felt organic and creative, but many viewers were left disappointed when they were not able to get onto the microsite.

“One of the things we do best is listen to our fans,” said Brandon Rhoten, vice president of digital and social media at Wendy’s, Dublin, OH. “Periscope is new, but it’s also something our fans have started to experiment with – which makes it a perfect place to engage them.

“In this instance, it also gave us the means to give the masses an opportunity to participate since not everyone was able to get face time with Rhett and Link,” he said. “YouTube is another place we like to play.

“Again it starts with our audience. They’re on the platform and they’ve come to look for us there, so it’s a great reach driver for us.”

Creative promotion
Wendy’s used its Twitter account to drive social media fans to the designated microsite,, which featured images of the Orange Mango and Blueberry Pineapple Fruitea Chillers on the sides.

Consumers were asked to help customize their experience by answering some questions while they waited for the videos to load, after which select visitors could be connected with Rhett and Link during their day-long sketches. The day was created to promote the brand’s new summer drinks, proving that social media influencers can offer a dose of freshness to seasonal campaigns and encourage trial among millennials.

“The audience for both Periscope and YouTube fit the audience Wendy’s is targeting,” said Marissa Ferraraccio, digital marketing specialist at Zoomph, Reston, VA. “The beauty of Periscope is that it’s raw, authentic video in real-time.

“No edits, no re-dos,” she said. “And YouTube is successful because it’s about listening to your audience and delivering quality video content.

“Rhett and Link have a massive audience who listen to them and spend time engaging. So for Wendy’s to employ the influence of these YouTube sensations sends a signal to fans that they are confident in their new drink menu, but also, they value what feedback the audience has to give.”

However, the microsite was inundated with so many visits that it temporarily overloaded, preventing excited guests from interacting with and seeing the comedic YouTube duo. If another similar incident occurred the next time Wendy’s or a fellow fast-food chain decides to bring YouTube celebrities to Periscope, it could have a more detrimental effect on fans.

YouTube stars are becoming increasingly more popular with social media users, particularly younger consumers, and could bring a slew of difficulties to a live marketing campaign if brands are not equipped to have the proper technical maintenance support.

Despite this, Wendy’s walked away from the promotional day with more than 2,700 Periscope followers and 65,000 “hearts,” which are equivalent to likes.

“What better way to garner extra promotion than with shares?” Ms. Ferraraccio said. “Since Periscope streams can be shared on Twitter and replayed, the distribution among the target audience will grow with each Tweet.”

Social media influencers
A Schick executive at the 2015 Mobile Marketing Association Forum New York affirmed that tapping social media influencers on YouTube catapults the effectiveness and reach of mobile video advertising, provided that the influencers are allowed creativity to expand on the brand’s message (see story).

“In a relatively short period of time (less than a day) we reached 1.5 million highly targeted consumers, and their response was phenomenal,” Wendy’s Mr. Rhoten said. “So much so that we literally maxed out the Periscope platform several times throughout the day.

“Consumers are hungry for this type of engagement – and we delivered.”

Rhett and Link have 3.6 million YouTube subscribers to their channel and more than a half-million Facebook fans. This gives Wendy’s the perfect leverage to reach a younger demographic that perhaps isn’t as well-versed with its products.

“Social media influencers and influencer marketing are a must for businesses large and small,” Ms. Ferraraccio said. “Think of influencers as authentic fans of your brand who truly believe in what you have to offer and they want their fans to believe in you as well.

“A 2013 Nielsen survey determined 84 percent of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends about products. Therefore, Wendy’s leveraging social influencers in real-time on Periscope is genius.”

Wendy’s is also not the only food and beverage marketer tapping live-streaming apps to announce news and connect with more millennial consumers on mobile.

Taco Bell recently made a special announcement via Periscope, alerting consumers of a Biscuit Taco giveaway on Cinco de Mayo while testing the latest buzzed-about mobile platform’s ability to drive awareness and store traffic (see story).

“Having Rhett and Link promote Wendy’s new summertime drinks while live-streaming and answering questions, once again, in real-time helps fans develop a trust in Wendy’s,” Ms. Ferraraccio said. “Why?

“Because in theory, if Rhett and Link tell you to love Wendy’s new drink menu, you are much more inclined to love their drink menu because you trust Rhett and Link,” she said. “More and more brands are utilizing influencer marketing and user-generated content to promote their products and services.

“This may be a bold statement, but as a marketer I expect to see influencer marketing campaigns replace traditional advertising in the next 5-10 years.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York