Goodbye Picture Perfect Ads, Hello Moldy Burgers: What We Can Learn From Burger King's Digital Marketing Strategy

Entrepreneurs have a lot to learn from Burger King's digital presence.

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By Zach Benson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Burger King has been a staple of American fast food for years. But with the rise of social media, the brand has consistently differentiated itself from the competition and made sure its voice was heard above the noise.

Here's what Burger King is doing right — and what you should be doing, too

1. They focus on honesty

One of Burger King's biggest recent marketing campaigns focused on their products containing no artificial preservatives. Instead of showing delectable photos of their food at its best, the campaign featured images of moldy burgers. The goal was to show that their products are real, in comparison to McDonald's, whose food is famous for (supposedly) never getting moldy.

This campaign is especially brilliant as consumers become more health-conscious. The search for simple foods that aren't filled with preservatives has been huge, and Burger King capitalized on it brilliantly.

Consumers don't always want to see your brand's best angles. To make your brand feel trustworthy and honest, don't be afraid to show what's going on under the hood — as long as you can also show consumers why that's a good thing.

Related: Meet the Man Behind Burger King's and Popeyes' Viral Marketing Campaigns

2. They don't act too corporate

One of Burger King's greatest social media strengths is that their marketing team understands the platforms. Their approach to Twitter is nothing short of masterful.

Instead of posting stuffy copy and staged photos of their products, their brand stays on the cutting edge of trends and jokes, posting Tweets that tap into the relevant news stories of the day. For example, when the UK's Prince Harry stepped down from his position as a Senior Royal and asked to just go by "Harry." Burger King tweeted, "@ harry, this royal family offers part-time positions." It was a clever way to take advantage of the news, connecting themselves to current events in a lighthearted way.

Besides news stories, Burger King's Twitter is full of witty, fun content. Their Tweets often link back to their own products without being overtly self-promotional, which consumers love. Judging by the thousands of likes that each of the above posts received, even people who aren't interested in Burger King's food can appreciate what they're sharing.

Your business should know its platforms, and not be afraid to be casual. Most consumers are tired of seeing social media posts that read like ads. If you can create a brand persona that's relatable, consumers are much more likely to follow and engage.

Related: Burger King Is Replying to Complaints About McDonald's on Facebook

3. They know their competition — and aren't shy about mentioning them

One of my favorite Burger King campaigns was their "Whopper Detour" campaign. Consumers were told they could get a Burger King Whopper for only one penny by downloading the Burger King app, driving within 600 feet of a McDonald's, then ordering a Whopper through the app. They took advantage of their competition with McDonald's to encourage people to order from them instead of McDonald's. Their engaging tweet announcing the promotional was met with dozens of replies noting that the campaign was "absolutely hilarious" and "brilliant."

Burger King ran another campaign related to McDonald's last June, which allowed people to exchange their McDonald's fries for Burger King onion rings in honor of National Onion Ring Day. Again, instead of shying away from the competition, Burger King openly acknowledges and embraces the competition, leveraging it to get more business and more attention on social media with comical campaigns. While it's not always wise to directly challenge your competition as Burger King does, there's always room for recognizing that your product isn't the only one on the market. Use your competition to showcase why your product is better and why consumers should choose you instead.

Burger King's success on social media comes from their willingness to step outside of the traditional, corporatized social media model and embrace the nuances of the platforms they use. Their marketing is authentic, honest and engaging, with unique campaigns that grab people's attention and help them stand out from their competition.

While not every brand should be as bold and sassy as Burger King, every marketing strategy could take a page or two from Burger King's playbook.

Related: Burger King 'mocks' McDonald's and responds to its ignored customers

Zach Benson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of Assistagram

Zach Benson is the founder of Assistagram, a company that empowers influencers and Fortune 500 companies to connect with real followers in their target audience. Benson helps influencers and brands cut through the noise to accrue millions of new followers on Instagram.

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