In two minutes


short bursts on things I thunk.

Quantity Over Quality: It’s The Sub Way

I saw a Subway Facebook promotion on the side of a bus yesterday.

‘Share Your Summer to Win!’ it grinned at me.

The basic premise is you share a photo of “Your Summer” and they send you some sandwiches. Maybe.


Let’s have a photo competition

Gee I thought, not much in that really. I’m not doing much for Subway, and you probably wouldn’t even do anything for me. A pretty low value exchange.

Sure photos are a large part of the currency of Facebook, they haven’t depreciated over time but they were never worth much to begin with.

We all do it every day. It’s just not that special unless something amazing or important is being shared.

In fact 200 million photos are being uploaded every day according to Facebook.

In Australia (as a rough guide) we upload 2.5m photos every day (there are 10m of us on Facebook)

So far Subway says they have received 12,000 photos for the promotion. For the Summer so far.

And strangely, they haven’t insisted that people upload the photos to the Subway wall to get the most exposure on Facebook for the activity. They have actually split the response three ways -you can upload from their website or even just sling ’em an email.

Which goes against the whole principle of aiming to collect and curate user-generated content on Facebook for your brand. Really, what’s the point if we aren’t all collectively marveling at our Summer and the important supporting role Subway has played in the good times?

If you actually go and take a look at their wall I can’t even see any wall posts from people. And that’s the rub. If they insisted people can ONLY enter with a wall post they would clog up their own wall with an endless Summer (:D) of photos. Not too smart as it turns out.

Let’s make it hard to enter

I had a look at how easy it was to submit a photo.

Not very as it turns out.

There’s the app to connect to of course. I also got a pop-up message to say I haven’t ‘registered’ my Facebook page with Subway. And finally the sort of form you fill out to take out a bank loan or emigrate to another country.
















Must be some tasty sandwiches hey?

Anyway. Not exactly an easy entry to the competition.

What’s in it for Subway?

A simple truth about Facebook is that the most common reason to like a page is to get free stuff.

I’m not entirely sure why this is the case but I suspect when marketers realised they could do their sampling promotions and sweepstakes on Facebook at a huge time/cost saving the floodgates opened. And we just played along.

I’m actually pretty sad about it.

A direct channel to people was not used with intelligence and wit but like a spruiker uses a PA system in the local mall.

<insert cuss>

So Subway will give away a fraction of the cost of the low value brand exposure they have worked to create, the majority of people who entered will forget they did in no time and the massive tide of photos on Facebook will sweep over this promotion like a bucket sandcastle at the waterline.

What could they have done better?

I can only imagine the brief (if there was one – I suspect this was an idea tossed on the table by the agency or internal team)

Maybe ‘Connect Subway with the the Australian Summer and good times between friends’.

The brief to consumers to share your Summer is just so broad as to be indistinguishable from any other photo on activity on Facebook.

It doesn’t stand out

It doesn’t show your commitment to Subway

It doesn’t create a volume of content on Facebook that spreads through networks

etc etc

And also…

It’s a tenuous connection to make between Australian Summers and a New York sandwich chain. I’m not sure we’ll make that connection in our minds from this activity.

I think perhaps a better idea would have been to go after the hardcore Subway customers.

I’m sure they are out there, eating Subway almost every lunchtime.

Maybe there’s even a few thousand of them in Australia.

If they created an idea that these people could have engaged with, that inspired them to spectacular online and offline deeds I think that would have made a bigger impact on the individual friend networks on Facebook to create interest, new likes and PR or whatever Subway deems success to be.

The Xers out there will remember Triple J’s Beat the Drum activity from the 90s.







If you don’t, the basic idea was to drum up support for Triple J by running your own campaign to get Triple J exposure in your community (or beyond).

There were some pretty spectacular entries over the years from true Triple J fans.

Here are some entries from 2004 when the campaign was still in the market


Put that in your pipe Subway Australia.

That’s what committed fans will do if you create them and activate them.

Even if you just took 500 of the biggest Subway fans and asked them to do something special with the chain – extreme deeds of loyalty for extreme rewards for these select few – that would get much better cut through on Facebook than a few photos here and there.

If young adults have 237 Facebook friends on average and they are over-represented as a demographic in Subway’s top fans, your top 500 Subway fans likely have a network to reach of over 100,000 Australians.

Subway would you rather have 12,000 (less than – split response remember) photos of little value sprinkled into the 240m photos Australia has uploaded so far this Summer on Facebook or 500 hardcore fans going to great lengths over Summer witnessed by a combined network of 100,000+

It’s a question of volume vs quality.

So then…

If there are any social media marketers reading this, please take one thing from this post.

Aim for quality to achieve cut through. It’s that simple.

If social media is to be worth a damn today and tomorrow it has to be more than test ground for hackneyed promotions, product dumps and giveaways.

If you keep on with this you’ll be cutting your own throats. Really.

Let’s progress.

We are creating digital exhaust in staggering volumes. Forget GB of data and get used to PB, ZB and YB.

Trying to create ripples that spread through large networks is only going to get harder in a growing ocean of data.

So pick a smaller target and make a bigger impact.

You’ll be glad you did.


Filed under: Campaigns, Social Media, , , , ,

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