Arby’s Social Media Manager Gives Inside Scoop On Tweet To Pharrell That Rocked The Grammys

Josh Martin headshotShortly into Sunday night’s Grammy Awards show, Arby’s social media manager Josh Martin started to notice a number of tweets mentioning his brand in relation to the hat worn by Grammy winning artist Pharrell Williams.

Without missing a beat, and working from home rather than out of some fancy “social media war room,” Martin composed the tweet that would snowball into Arby’s biggest ever social media win to date.

“When I saw so many people mentioning us in relation to the hat, I thought it was a great opportunity to jump into the conversation,” said Martin, who was gracious enough to take an interview from his snowbound home in Atlanta.

His tweet to @Pharrell has earned more than 83,000 retweets and has been favorited over 48,000 times. Martin says it has garnered 10,700 replies and helped the brand win 6,000 new Twitter followers.

Martin said the tweet turned into a “perfect storm” with it being posted early in the show. As Pharrell kept taking the stage wearing the unique hat, winning more and more awards, the Arby’s tweet continued to build momentum.

According to Martin, the tweet earned 384-times Arby’s normal reach on Twitter.

Not only did it receive replies from other brands including Quaker Oats, Pepsi and Hyundai, Pharrell Williams, who has more than 2.7 million Twitter followers, replied as well – a huge win for any brand trying to engage a celebrity on the social media platform.

Pharrell Arby's tweet

Since Pharrell’s reply, Martin said internal discussions have occurred around how to extend the buzz from the Twitter exchange, and that Arby’s has reached out to the Grammy winner about using his hat in future promotions.

Arby’s social media strategy has come a long way since Martin joined the team in 2010. Before Martin came on board, the brand had no social media department.

“We only had about 40,000 Facebook fans, and two to three-thousand Twitter followers,” said Martin.

As the brand’s social media manager, Martin has grown Arby’s social media presence to 2.5 million Facebook fans and over 217,000 Twitter followers. Arby’s is now also active on Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin and YouTube.

“Our CMO has created an environment for our team to have freedom and flexibility,” said Martin, “I’m not going to put the brand in jeopardy. If I do think it’s controversial, I run it up the flagpole.” He claims the free range he has gained comes from building trust with his supervisors over time.

Martin is responsible for all of Arby’s tweets during big media events, like the Grammy’s and next Sunday’s Super Bowl. “We don’t try to force it,” said Martin in regards to Arby’s social content strategy. Martin shared that he had other posts planned for the Grammys, but pulled back after his tweet to Pharrell took off. “It was a great real-time moment.”

“For me, social really starts by listening to our customers and what people are saying about our brand,” said Martin. “We are constantly monitoring our brand terms, and taking social insights to other teams like product development, PR and customer service.”

While Martin will be hard-pressed to recreate what happened during the Grammys, a lot more people will be paying attention to Arby’s tweets Super Bowl Sunday.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Features & Analysis | Grammys | Interviews | Top News | Twitter


About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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  • smsulari

    Really excited to see how some times one social jackpot can turn things. Still struggling here with my team to earn something like that

  • Carlos Pacheco

    love how brands think they own their social followers.

  • Toontown

    And what’s the ROI on that tweet?

  • Philip

    No, just their data :)

  • Danny Sullivan

    Arby’s didn’t say anything about owning their followers. In fact, you kind of miss the point of what happened here. Rather than Arby’s trying to tell their social followers something, you’ve got a guy who was taking time to hear what the followers were saying and responded to that, which paid off with a big success.

  • Jeff Quandt

    Twitter may provide ROI at times, but it’s real strength is in ROR; Return on Relationships.,,which will lead to sales.

  • dreamsofelectricsheep

    Considering it probably took about 30 seconds to post, probably a helluva lot. It’s marketing.

  • dharmabuilt

    This is the inherent problem with how “Social” is still viewed by many – that an opportunistic Tweet will somehow “change the world” for a brand. It’s social media one-upmanship and doesn’t build any brand value. And don’t play the “but the engagement!” card on me. Stop making celebrities out of people that are literally in the right place at the right time. That’s it. We don’t need more social media community manager celebrities.

  • Clayburn Griffin

    His reply is incredibly witty. Kudos to him.

  • Toontown

    Maybe it will lead to your sales when you pitch ROR to a gullible client. Twitter’s real strength is in ROBS.

  • Toontown

    That’s Return on B.S. if you’re slow on the uptake.

  • Toontown


  • Grant Simmons

    I think you’re missing the point, unless you first ask “what was the budget assigned to this campaign?”
    In this particular instance, a smart guy, made a smart response.. the ROI is infinite. The *value* is noteworthy. Cheers

  • Grant Simmons

    Hmm. Guest you guys aren’t getting the part about marketing as a multi-channel effort. Social isn’t a panacea thats fixes all, neither is it acting on an island that doesn’t influence the consumer decision journey.
    And you’re welcome to disagree.
    Marketing *includes* conversations, polarized opinions, authority and reach.
    We call that “Social Media”

  • Thomas Townsend

    Arby’s usage of Twitter is reflective of Smart Digital Presence Management in today’s socially charged media marketing.

    In our Globally connected always on lives….
    Taking advantage of live and or current media
    events is TODAYs reality. The marketing landscape has certainly changed in recent years.

    Seize the moment….just as the Super Bowl will prove today…and the following weeks after.

    Even my team is getting in on it. Why? Because, every company wants an MVP on their team…..!

    You can get yours too

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