Can Chick-fil-A Convert Those Prayers Into Page Views?

Chick-fil-a protestor

Image from: Chick-fil-A Protestor / The Daily Beast

Welcome to the internet, where everyone has an opinion! This is what I would like to say to Dan Cathy, the president of the fast food franchise and adoringly-scrutinized company Chick-fil-A. I would like to say it to him casually, dressed as I usually am in skinny jeans, metallic silver Sperry’s, and accessorized like my jewelry box and I are in competition. And then I might ask him for a coupon or two because, of all things, I am not above a free snack.

With the recent firestorm around the company I decided to poke around Chick-fil-A’s online presence prior to when the controversy really blew up, somewhere around July. First I checked their website out and besides a somewhat disturbing story about a women who decided the chain was a good place to study the bible–who then proceeded to throw out her hearing aids only to be reclaimed by a staff willing to dig through fried-meat-detritus—there wasn’t much. Next, I decided to look at their daily attention data to see if the medias attention had translated into online attention, but was disappointed there too.

Daily Attention to Chick-fil-A.comAs it turns out there’s been a relatively low splash in their traffic all around due to the controversy, yet one gargantuan spike on the 1st of August. Why, you ask? Why would a fast food company being scorned for homophobia be trafficked on this specific day and not others? It’s because August 1st was “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” That’s why. Yet, despite this spike, our hearing-impaired bible-studier’s story remains ignored by social media with only 4 shares to its name. I found this sporadic enthusiasm odd.

Daily Keyword Destinations for 'chick-fil-a'

Next I checked for more clues in the keyword destinations for the term “Chick-fil-A” (shown above). I figured this was the best way to gauge how exactly people are trying to interact with the company online, and looking at the results I was struck at how many were job related. Evidently, people are simply famished for work with this company. This is further expressed in a heat map of the sites incoming traffic, where almost 11k visits in June are off of Career and Education domains.

It will be interesting to see if this hunger for work lasts through the controversy. It will also be interesting to see how this spike in the media’s attention impacts the viewership of the website. I’m not in the habit of lending free advice to brands that are morally opposed to my happiness, but there is a marketing lesson here for all of us: brands that manage to polarize their perception, brands like Chick-fil-A, often times have an intensely fervent, possibly dormant followership available to them online (as shown in the ‘appreciation spike’ on August 1st and people’s work searches), but whether these brands can harness this attention and turn it into consistent traffic is either their success or their failure. In other words, their potential providence or their promised purgatory, and I think it’s obvious where Chick-fil-A currently resides. In terms of unique vistors, that is.

About Ryan LaSala:
Ryan La Sala joins Compete as the Digital Marketing Co-op for Compete.com, sovereign of all things social media. Ryan is a current attendant of Northeastern University, dual-majoring in Cultural Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Biology and Psychology), with career interests in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Consumer Anthropology. Aside from acquiring aspirations with big words, Ryan’s other interests include reading cheesy fiction, writing in any capacity, singing and cooking. Find Ryan on twitter @Ryality or connect with him on LinkedIn.