Elon, IHOP, and Tweets: How Marketers Can Get Better Customer Buzz Metrics for Better ROI

Pierre DeBois
4 min readFeb 28, 2019

By now the business world knows about Elon Musk’s tweet on his considering taking his company Tesla private, as well as the subsequent New York Times interview in which he describes personal anxieties while running Tesla. Public fascination with Musk’s commentary has created a loyal social media following, but these media mentions has generated debate among investors and Wall Street analysts how the Tesla brand is ultimately impacted. Musk still faces potential SEC sanction; Ars Technica reports that a federal judge has given Musk time to explain why he should not be held in contempt.

The controversy is an example of how worldly social media buzz must be managed to ultimately provide and protect business value. A tweet can now impact the stock value of a business as much as it does the branding value. The lesson for marketers is to protect business value, a process should exists to measure two qualities of a social media presence:

1. Consistency of the message

2. Sentiment generated from the message.

Selecting metrics that supports the process is not easy, but techniques are appearing, enough to warrant marketing research. In simple language, simple reach metrics provide no insight on long term value.

Let’s look at IHOP as an example of how consistency and sentiment lead to meaningful buzz. Last year the breakfast restaurant chain received a large amount of attention for teasing its Twitter and Facebook followers with a faux-name-change to “iHOB” in support of its new burger line. A few social media posts contained words with a clever replacement of the letter “p” with the letter “b”.

Consumer reaction on social media, particularly Twitter, varied from disbelief to encouragement for trying one of the new burgers. Moreover, many competitors, like Wendy’s and Burger King, jumped in with their own responses.

In the end, the campaign was a success. Adweek reported that sales exceeded expectations and remained steady after the campaign completion.

What is notable was that IHOP stayed consistent with the message — even having fun with the text to reinforce the message. The effort generated sentiment…

Pierre DeBois

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