Chick Fil A Stores Miss Out on Very Important Opportunity

chickfila2-1.jpgI’m a sucker for a deal. Let’s just say I’m a cheapskate. That’s why I was excited when I heard that Chick-Fil-A stores were offering free chicken sandwiches nationwide today. So I went out and voted, excited to celebrate my vote with a nice chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A. Never mind the $5 in gas it cost me to drive there.

I get there after a long drive telling them about hearing online about them offering free sandwiches, showing my “I Voted Sticker”. They’re response was “Chick-Fil-A isn’t doing that – it was a ‘Media Error'”. I responded arguing it was all over the web, and all they could do is tell me their manager said they couldn’t give anything out.

So what did I do? I got on Twitter (well, actually FriendFeed, which goes to Twitter) and hashtagged it #ep and #votereport (as a joke), and shared with my 1400 or so friends on Twitter, along with anyone monitoring #votereport and #ep, not to mention the near 800 friends on Facebook and near 700 friends on FriendFeed how Chick-Fil-A had made this huge PR error. And now I’m blogging about it to at least 500 more people, and who knows if others share this with friends and how many more people end up seeing it.

Here’s the problem – I noted to them that I had heard the offer on the internet. That means I have reach. I most likely share things with my friends through this enormous, now social tool. This should signal that to them, regardless of who I am. I know not all their customers have heard of the offer, so therefore they aren’t going to go broke giving stuff away. However, if they would have just given away a free drink (which, from my fast food experience, costs practically nothing), or free fries, or even a coupon to come in next time for a free sandwich, they could have taken advantage of that reach. I would have been tweeting about my great experience getting free food at Chick-Fil-A, they would have gotten more customers and more people aware of their location, and this blog post would have been much more positive in their favor.

Social Media is powerful, people. Yes, I did end up buying my own sandwich and I still like their food, but they could have taken advantage of a much greater opportunity to spread the word about their brand and promote that particular location. Chick-Fil-A, and especially that particular location, missed out on a huge opportunity here.

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26 thoughts on “Chick Fil A Stores Miss Out on Very Important Opportunity

  1. That means I have reach. I most likely share things with my friends through this enormous, now social tool. This should signal that to them, regardless of who I am.

    I understand your point, but I think the delivery is a bit off. Your example here is like a celebrity walking into any random store and demanding free access to their products and services, with the threat that any refusal to do so will result in that celebrity going to the media and complaining. Claiming you have lots of friends, “reach”, or the ability to communicate with a bunch of random strangers does not entitle you or anybody else to special privileges or unequal treatment.

    Yes, the company could have made an exception w/ the hope that you would speak favorably of them. But they still got your business, and you're still talking about them (any news is good news, right? – yeah, only to a certain extent). 🙂

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  2. I don't know the story behind how that story generated, but if Chick-Fil-A didn't actually make that promise in the first place, they certainly shouldn't be expected to give free things away to customers. Imagine the precedent that would set!! All I'd have to do was start a rumor and I could demand free stuff from any business. (If they DID make that promise initially, then of course they should uphold it.)

    I actually consider this an example of social media's failure – in the game of telephone, the details of a message are often lost. I thought I saw a chart earlier today saying that Chick-Fil-A was only giving away sandwiches at select locations … if that was true then that detail (“select locations only”) wasn't transmitted across networks properly.

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  3. Jesse, you know there's no free lunch in America right? I'm just messing with you.

    I agree they could've gone with it and probably lost less however the more important problem that needs to be solved is the lack of communication throughout companies about what is happening (they'd know if they were on Yammer/Twitter together) within their organization and policies that allow for on-the-spot decision-making.

    As an aside, we really need to address the issue of misinformation here too. Just because something is published, even by otherwise reputable sites, doesn't make it so. All the more reason for organizations to follow discussions about their brands. If Chick-Fil-A were following their name (and blogging or on Twitter) they could've dispelled this myth, quickly made a decision to honor it or any number of decisions based around it. Ignoring customers, however, is unrealistic and in bad form today.

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  4. I just visited Chick Fil A's web page to see if they were saying anything about the matter, such as a big banner saying “No, we're not giving away free food, we regret the misunderstanding.” I couldn't find anything on the Chick Fil A website about this, unless it's buried away somewhere.

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  5. My point here Connor is that in social media, everyone is a
    celebrity. IMO, when anyone, regardless of who they are (and I'm far
    from a celebrity, btw), states they hear of something on the internet,
    you have a new opportunity that previously didn't exist to get word
    out about your brand, store, or location. Those that understand this
    will be very successful as store owners.

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  6. Marina, I disagree. Ash explained this well – if Chick-Fil-A had been
    more in the conversation the catastrophe would have been avoided.
    While I don't expect a free lunch, nor was I completely sure this
    particular store was participating, the fact that I stated I heard “on
    the internet” should have got the manager excited. This is an
    opportunity to promote the store, and even if they couldn't give out
    free sandwiches, were they to instead offer a free coupon or such, he
    had a great opportunity to get the word out that his particular store
    was an excellent place for customers to come out of their way to visit
    on election day. I'm just saying this was an opportunity here – I
    think they missed it.

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  7. Well, it wasn't a big mistake in the fact that they “messed with me”,
    but rather the fact that they heard that I “heard it on the
    internet”. It doesn't matter who I am – it does matter that I heard
    it on the internet which has a far greater reach these days than it
    used to.

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  8. I dunno. It is sort of a rock and a hard place. They can't exactly start giving things away for free, just because someone said they will. But at the same time, screwing over the customer is always a bad idea.

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  9. Why should Chick-fil-A be obligated to provide you with a free sandwich because you read on the internet about a “promotion?” The promotion was fictitious created probably by a person who was hoping to receive a free meal for the day. I could easily come to your house, ring the doorbell, and say, ” Sir, I would like my $1,000 please…. I read on the internet that if I were to come to your house and ask for $1,000 you would give me the money.” People create the craziest ideas out there, especially geared towards a gracious company like Chick-fil-A in hopes that Chick-fil-A would be muscled into a false “promotion.” You cannot really get upset with a company denying a promotion that they never created.

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  10. I completely agree with Hunter… if Chic-fil-A never said they were giving away free food, they absolutely should not be obligated to give away free food. Sure, they can appologize, which I'm sure they did, but other than that I would suggest you pay more attention to where you are getting your information from. It should be common sense to find the truth to anything from the source before pursuing the claim. This isn't Chic-fil-A's loss, this was your mistake for believing “everything you hear”, and criticizing Chic-fil-A for your mistake is down right wrong.

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  11. Thanks Dale – this was written way before they had an account. I'm actually
    quite surprised no one has tried to comment here from Chick Fil A. I'm over
    it though – regardless, I still love their food and that's what matters.

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  12. Actually, the Chick-Fil-A's in Orlando did offer free Chick Fil A on voting day – I got one. But you didn't even have to have an “I Voted” sticker, because apparently it is illegal to offer free stuff as incentives to vote. So, the rumor you heard must have had some legitimacy, at least at a few Chick Fil A's.

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  13. Actually, the Chick-Fil-A's in Orlando did offer free Chick Fil A on voting day – I got one. But you didn't even have to have an “I Voted” sticker, because apparently it is illegal to offer free stuff as incentives to vote. So, the rumor you heard must have had some legitimacy, at least at a few Chick Fil A's.

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  14. Actually, the Chick-Fil-A's in Orlando did offer free Chick Fil A on voting day – I got one. But you didn't even have to have an “I Voted” sticker, because apparently it is illegal to offer free stuff as incentives to vote. So, the rumor you heard must have had some legitimacy, at least at a few Chick Fil A's.

    Like

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