Restaurants catch #TheDress’ shirttails

Restaurants catch #TheDress’ shirttails

Restaurant brand community managers were served a wide variety of topics in the past week, including llamas running amok in Arizona, but no topic seemed to rise to the level of #TheDress.

Social media managers found ways to tap into the trending #TheDress hashtag late last week and early this week, as the Tumblr-posted blue-and-black dress photograph fed an Internet tempest with those who thought it was white and gold.

Olive Garden, which ranked No. 1 on Thursday in Nation’s Restaurant News’ Social 200 index, offered up this Tweet:

Sara A. Polito, founder of the Dallas-based Causing the Stir social media consultancy, said the restaurant brands she handles didn’t participate in #TheDress conversation, but she said she saw a number of creative and quick responses.
“Brands really need to act quickly when something does come up like that,” Polito said. “They have to be able to capture the attention right away. If you wait too long, it’s been saturated. People can get worn out from it, and it’s not funny anymore.”

The half-life of a trending topic like the dress varies considerably, Polito said.

“Each scenario is different,” she said. “#TheDress took off fairly fast, but it fizzled fairly quickly.”

The idea is to make the brand and the topic gibe well, generally with some humor, she added, citing as an example an orange-doctored dress tweet from Whataburger, which on Thursday ranked No. 8 in the NRN Social 200.

Other brands summed up what a lot of people in social media were thinking. Carvel Ice Cream, for example, tastefully weighed in with:
The most effective Facebook and Twitter posts come soon after the topic heats up in social channels, Polito said.
“You really have to act fast and capture as much attention as possible,” Polito explained. “Brands really need to act quickly.”

She advised veering away from anything controversial, such as politics, religion or other sensitive areas. “Keeping it lighthearted is probably the best route,” she said. “Humor is always a safe way to go.”

#TheDress appeared tailored for that.

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