How Influencers Use Fast-Food Chains To Boost Engagement

The Burger as an Accessory

Influencers constantly have to find new ways to remain engaging, and one of the most recent trends we’ve observed is fast food: the burger as an accessory. From international household names like McDonalds to newer kids on the block like Monty’s, the fast food industry has found that influencers get them out there, and influencers themselves are mutually benefitting from this relationship with higher engagement rates.

The New York Times uses the Kardashians as an example of the mix between couture and relatively ‘fast food franchises’: “[w]ith their glammed up mix of high-low culture (i.e. driving a Bentley but eating Chipotle), it has since become a kind of infomercial for the Kardashian Industrial Complex.” The example below exemplifies this with Kendall Jenner in her Bentley holding an In-And-Out burger — it’s quite an alluring look.

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better talk nice

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We can begin an in depth examination of this phenomenon with a picture posted by Gigi Hadid at Coachella 2019:

McDonalds x Gigi Hadid

It is clear from this post that this is a paid partnership with McDonald’s and she is holding the signature red packet of french fries. @gigihadid has always been quite vocal about her love for burgers, calling it one of her favourite foods. She was spotted on the Jimmy Fallon show eating burgers, she won a celebrity chef competition for her homemade burger, and she also encouraged the McDonalds meal card initiative for the poor. So her collaboration with McDonalds is the perfect pairing. In terms of the engagement rate, this post garnered a 5.09% engagement rate, which is higher than her average of 2.42%. It is also her 4th most liked post of 2019.

It seems like the key to marketing in the fast food industry is levelling the playing field. McDonalds’ top performing post of this year is one from a series that talks about McDonalds ‘rituals’:

This shows us the universal appeal of the golden arches, and is also precisely what McDonalds seeks to achieve via their collaboration with Hadid.

In-N-Out x Chiara Ferragni

One of @chiaraferragni’s top performing posts this year is pictures of her at In-N-Out with her husband @fedez.

The total engagement rate on this post was 6.83%, which is 3 times her average engagement rate. The same image was posted by her partner and garnered an engagement rate of 7.36%, which is also slightly higher than his average of 6%.

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How every party should end ❤️

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While In-N-Out has not posted any of this content on their own social media platforms, showcasing this burger joint over the years has been positive for Ferragni’s engagement on Instagram. The first time she posted a picture at In-N-Out in 2018, the post received 294K likes.

This year, the number quadrupled. Notice how the combination of highbrow and lowbrow is apparent in their pictures as well — Ferragni is wearing an extravagant red dress while her partner is suited up. This is both a pleasant juxtaposition to the burgers in hand but also seems to seamlessly blend in to the red and white In-N-Out aesthetic.

Apart from celebrity influencers, micro and nano influencers also benefit from this same tactic.

White Castle x Lauren Won

Another popular American burger chain is White Castle, famously referenced in the comedy film ‘Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle’. Smaller influencers tend to tag big brands in their posts to help them gain exposure, so while this is not a collaboration per se, @won_love still managed to boost her engagement rate by posing with a burger.  

While Won is still a rather small influencer with an audience of only 2K, the burger trick still works. White Castle noticed her post because she tagged their account — @whitecastle — in her picture, and her reposting of the image ranked as her 3rd most liked post this year.

Additionally, she received a 16.17% engagement rate on this post, which is higher than her usual. Once more, we see the contrast between her pristine white robe in a fancy hotel and the fast food take out that is on her bed.

Another example is this post by @beautybybree813:

Her makeup is snatched and her pose almost makes us believe she could be posing with jewelry instead. This was her top post of 2018 and received a 13.7% engagement rate, which is 1.5x her usual engagement.

Like Won, Whitecastle noticed her and reposted her image, further boosting her engagement rate.

Fast Food and Celebrities: Past and Future

Fun fact: the history of fast food celebrity collaborations actually dates all the way back to the 60s with The Rolling Stone for Rice Krispies, Michael Jackson for Pepsi in the 80s, Ringo Starr for Pizza Hut in the 90s, and NSYNC for Chilli’s in the early 2000s just to name a few.

But it is interesting to see how in this day and age, celebrities have willingly self-promoted these foods on their own accord, just because it makes them more relatable to the average follower who knows what it feels like to impulsively grab a burger or upsize a meal. The relationship between a burger in hand and a higher engagement rate has been proven, so pick up a cheeseburger and try it out yourself.

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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