The Tasti D-Lite Way: 5 Questions with BJ Emerson


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Few social marketing books are told from the brand’s perspective. The Tasti D-Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave chronicles the digital journey of an amazing brand as it jumps headlong into the realm of social media at a critical point in the history of the company. We sat down with co-author BJ Emerson to discuss why Tasti D-Lite is such a unique case study in anticipation of our upcoming webinar Social Media: The Tasti D-Lite Way.

Why did you choose to tell the story of Tasti D-Lite?
There are some fascinating events unfolding in the world of social media as it relates to customer engagement. With consumer adoption of mobile and social technologies, new opportunities are presenting themselves daily when it comes to meeting needs and providing great experiences online. As early navigators over these last 5 years, we’ve curated some great stories and case studies. We found a great partner in McGraw-Hill to help us share what goes on behind the scenes and what it really takes to be relevant on today’s web.

Before there was an organized social business strategy for Tasti D-Lite, there were independent social communities of customers. How did Tasti D-Lite take advantage of this passionate group of users?
Demonstrating value and earning credibility within these communities takes time. Our approach started with simply listening and support, then engagement and content. We found that our participation was appreciated as a result. Many are eager to hear news and information on flavors and locations as we grow into new areas.

How does Tasti D-Lite measure social marketing success?
With more points of measurement than traditional media, each campaign needs to be engineered so that results can be measured after the fact. When clear objectives are established from the start and data points are in place, it’s not hard to determine if a particular campaign was a success.

One of the ways we define success is how well we are able to integrate the social mindset into our organization, both at the corporate office as well as throughout our franchise community. Successfully scaling our social media efforts will require involvement from both.

How can the franchise business model work with social marketing? How much autonomy does each franchise have for communicating on the social web?
As franchisor, the best thing we can do is equip our franchise network so that operators can reach their local customers where they are online. For example, centralizing but training and co-managing virtual real estate like Facebook Pages, Google Places and Foursquare venues is a way to scale while effectively stewarding the brand assets online. The relevant content required at the local level cannot easily be scaled from the top down. Local ownership meets the demand for localized content but if they don’t have the means to interact with customers online a franchisee is paralyzed.

Tasti D-Lite took advantage of a unique opportunity; its growth phase and international expansion coincided with the rise of social media. Now that social media is more established, what’s next for Tasti D-Lite?
Capturing and holding onto the heart of today’s empowered consumer is a journey requiring constant change and an intentional pursuit of relevance in the marketplace. It’s not so much about the technologies themselves that are being used, it is understanding the behavior of our customers and how we can best meet their needs and provide great experiences. This is the challenge we all face going forward.

For more insights from BJ Emerson, be sure to attend our upcoming joint webinar: Social Media: The Tasti D-Lite Way. You can also download chapter 1 of The Tasti D-Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave.

Mike Lewis


Mike Lewis
Mike is an entrepreneur and marketing executive with a 14-year track record of success as a senior manager at early-stage technology companies. He is currently the vice president of marketing and sales for Awareness Inc., an enterprise social media management platform


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