In today’s hyper-connected world, any brand worth its salt has added a social media prong to its outreach strategy. But far fewer brands have built their core identity around the tenets of social media the way #getfried Fry Café has. The hashtag is an official part of the Buffalo, New York–based brand’s name, and cofounder Chris Covelli says it seemed an obvious addition.
“When we designed the brand, it was originally ‘Get Fried’ and my business partner [Garrett Green] and I kept talking about how it naturally fit into the hashtag mentality,” Covelli says. “We kind of pioneered in the quick-serve space having that hashtag in our brand name.”
Borrowing inspiration from Canadian poutine, Covelli and his friend Garrett Green—both Millennials—founded #getfried in 2015. Today the concept encompasses two upstate New York locations and a franchise development deal in the greater San Antonio, Texas, area. Catering to adventurous Millennials with a penchant for customization, the menu features five fry varieties with 20 sauces and toppings including staples like chili and ground beef, as well as wonkier options like Nutella and truffle oil.
#getfried’s social media presence reflect this dichotomy with traditional posts about special events and menu options while others are more irreverent. A recent post showed the Rocky Balboa (sirloin, sautéed onions, sweet peppers, and melted cheese) with a slew of superimposed heart-eyed emojis. Still others featured cartoons like Disney’s Dory the fish and the Easter bunny.
The tactic seems to be working. #getfried has managed to do something that has eluded many: It has engaged with consumers in a genuine way. Whether fans are commenting on Facebook news, sharing pictures, or tagging friends in related posts, #getfried has a penchant for creating buzz across platforms.
“Facebook we saw the most success with. We’ve had some really successful campaigns, specifically when we launched our first location we did a name-your-basket contest. I think it was over 100,000 people were reached,” Covelli says. “We’ve noticed that every time we launch a creative, fun campaign that people want to not only participate but tag their friends.”
Beyond engaging with customers, #getfried recently hatched a plan to find potential franchisees through social media. It geo-targeted Penn State on Facebook and in a matter of days, the brand garnered four franchisee leads, 41 shares, 81 likes, and more than 30,000 impressions.
Covelli says it proves that through platforms like social media, #getfried can reach far beyond its locations with meaningful results. But he cautions that brands will have to do their due diligence to make it work; consumers can often tell when the message is canned or disingenuous.
“They’ve got to go outside their comfort zones,” Covelli says. “I think if a brand just stays within the comfort zone and does the regular vanilla stuff; it’s not really going to allow them to stick out. Social media is the best way to connect with the consumers these days.”
Looking ahead, #getfried will continue to utilize its social media power—both in engaging consumers and targeting college towns for future franchise growth.
By Nicole Duncan
The five times weekly e-newsletter that keeps you up-to-date on the latest industry news and additions to this website.