This Fast Food Restaurant's Social Media Accounts Are a Pop Culture-Lover's Dream

Arby's artfully geeky social media accounts prove that fast food pages don't have to look like ads.

But Arby's doesn't do it all on their own. They collaborate with a creative digital agency called the Roar Groupe to come up with pop culture-inspired concepts and bring them to life with an Arby's twist.

We got the chance to speak with Josh Martin, Arby's senior director of digital and social media, as well as Roar Groupe's associate creative director Jennifer Barclay and senior account strategist Chiara Travia to find out what goes into these posts, and Arby's and gaming are a match made in heaven.

 

A photo posted by Arby's (@arbys) on

 

Sweety High: What's the creative process behind your social media posts?

Josh Martin: Every month, the Roar team comes to Arby's headquarters and we plan the upcoming month. It's usually between 15 to 21 posts they think will be relevant and that they can create for that time. We pick the ideas we want to run with and they work their creative magic.

We provide them with the materials they need, and give them access to come into the restaurant and shoot if they need to. Once it's created, we come up with the strategy behind the marketing and push it out to the right people.

The game is on

A photo posted by Arby's (@arbys) on

Jennifer Barclay: Chiara works on strategy, giving us a broad idea of what's coming up so we can keep the right targets in mind. It goes way beyond "Oh, it's December, so let's post about Christmas." We look for those nerdy moments—for what's relevant to pop culture fans or what movies are coming out.

Everyone's a fan of something, whether it's wrestling or games, so we even look internally to what our teams at Arby's and Roar are genuinely interested in. That's not something a computer formula can tell you.

We also make everything we can out of packaging or actual food right from the Arby's store. We shoot when the doors are open, so there are people in there having lunch and staring at the weird things we're doing. And of course, we pay attention when people comment about the kinds of things they'd like to see.

Chiara Travia: And those 15 to 21 pieces of content that Josh mentioned are only the planned posts. Our team is really good at creating nimble, agile content on the fly. With whatever news comes out, like the announcement of Nintendo Switch, we're relevant reactors, staying on top of everything that's happening live, to create user responses. We try to stay ahead and focus on what our friends are talking about in the moment.

A photo posted by Arby's (@arbys) on

 

SH: When Playstation announced they'd be remaking the Crash Bandicoot games, Crash art was up on Arby's socials almost immediately. Was that planned?

JB: In some cases, we'll hear some news and we'll drop everything to focus on creating something in response. Crash Bandicoot was a little different. Being part of the culture you're talking to puts you in that space, and as a gamers and Crash fans we saw a lot of people predicting an announcement.

We decided that if they announced a new Crash game, Arby's could publish it one way, and if they didn't, they could post something about how they'd wished Crash could have been a part of it. What makes us so nimble is how good Josh and his team are, at the last minute, being able to put up what makes sense based on what we predicted. It's like a newsroom sometimes, where you have a plan A and a plan B and you have to be ready to go either way.

 

SH: Does everybody at Arby's get what you're doing? Is it sometimes hard to push through these nerdy or niche ideas?

JM: Not everyone gets it. Sometimes even I don't get a lot of it. But what's so great about the content is that, within our social media practice here at Arby's, we've built a lot of trust in being able to push out content we feel good about. We trust Roar to help us hit the right audience.

That's what's so beautiful about our content. Probably 60% of the people that look at the page aren't going to get it, but the audience that we're designing and creating it for really get it and love it. That's all we care about, and it's worked pretty well. The people at Arby's corporate don't get it, but they trust us to make content that's going to resonate with these niche audiences.

 

SH: What goes into physically crafting the art on your social media?

JB: It depends a lot on the piece. We just put up a post about the pirate ship from One Piece. The creative team is relatively small—basically a copywriter, myself and a designer who physically fabricates any of the cardboard stuff. Sometimes it'll be quick, and sometimes not. The ship took maybe 30 hours of work. That and Serenity, the ship from Firefly, were probably our two longest builds. Other times, we have 15 minutes to quickly put together a funny post.

 

SH: Why is this approach a good brand match for Arby's?

JM: A year ago, if you looked at our branded content across social, it all looked very promotional and the same as everyone else. We knew we had to break through and do something different = to engage these audiences through find their passions, instead of just trying to sell a product.

Early on, Roar pushed us to test a post around a potato cakes Triforce. We just took our triangular potato cakes and put them in the shape of a Triforce. When we tested that among a gamer audience and tech audience, it exploded. The comments and the shares exceeded anything we'd done in the past, and we knew we were on to something.

From then on out we've continued testing these niche audience with our content. We're not really trying to sell anything, and it seems to have paid off. If you look at the Facebook comments, you see people who haven't been to Arby's in forever who want to give us another shot because of these posts. We're exposing people to the brand who may not have thought about us our been to our restaurants in a long time, and it's raised affinity and love for our brand.

CT: It's always about the fans. As a brand, you're not just competing with other brands—you're competing with other people's timelines full of engagements, weddings and anniversaries—so it's about staying relevant and top-of-mind by doing something differently.

 

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