- A Twitter user recently discovered that KFC's official account only follows 11 people on the social media platform: six named "Herb" and the five members of the pop band the Spice Girls, slyly echoing its original recipe's secret formula of 11 herbs and spices, according to Adweek.
- The revelatory tweet, from a user under the handle @edgette22, has racked up nearly 320,000 retweets and more than 700,000 favorites since it was posted on Oct. 19.
- Freddie Powell, creative director at KFC's creative agency Wieden+Kennedy, told Adweek that it set up the very on-brand follows one month ago and simply hoped some savvy internet sleuths would suss them out. It's clearly a bet that's paid off.
.@KFC follows 11 people.— Edge (@edgette22) October 19, 2017
Those 11 people? 5 Spice Girls and 6 guys named Herb.
11 Herbs & Spices. I need time to process this.
KFC and Wieden+Kennedy's Twitter stunt shows how brands can leverage social media channels in low-risk, low-cost ways that still have the potential to go viral and net a lot of earned media coverage. If no one had figured out the 11 herbs and spices followings, there'd be no harm done. Since it was discovered, it demonstrates to KFC's followers that the company pays attention to detail and has potentially hidden other fun clues to discover around the internet.
The situation recalls how Wendy's gained a lot of attention for responding to a fan's Twitter request for a year's supply of nuggets earlier this year. At the time, the user's initial tweet broke the record for the most retweets in the platform's history, allowing Wendy's to wring out a lot of engagement from the situation without actually launching any sort of paid advertising campaigns or promotions. These bits of marketing exemplify how fast food chains are winning with their social media strategies, particularly on Twitter where the tone is especially casual and open to direct interaction with customers who are closely following the conversation online.
Earlier this month, Wingstop tweeted out a play on the lyrics to a Migo's single, leading a fan to draw Wendy's into the situation for an impromptu rap battle. Wingstop said that the spur-of-the-moment showdown generated 9 million impressions and 72,000 retweets, reflecting the popularity of @edgette22's post. Burger King has also playfully ribbed Wendy's on Twitter in recent weeks, repurposing tweets complaining about its rival dropping spicy chicken nuggets from its menu into paid advertisements.
KFC doesn't have quite the same Twitter reputation as a company like the notoriously snarky Wendy's, but the success of the 11 herbs and spices stunt might hint at that changing in the future.