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Muddywall | October 20, 2014

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How KFC are using the hashtag #Iatethebones in their latest social media contest

Social media users are being asked to create a photo or video expressing the phrase “I ate the bones” in KFC’s latest social media contest.

The catchphrase “I Ate the Bones” is from a TV advertising campaign for KFC’s new Original Recipe Boneless chicken. The fast food chain are asking social media users to sumbit a photo or video bringing the catchphrase to life. Each week a prize will be awarded for the best entry. Five will be chosen to win the grand prize of $1000, with an opportunity to appear in a KFC Boneless online ad.

Entries can be submitted via an app on KFC’s Facebook Page or by using Instagram, Vine and Twitter using the hashtag #iatethebones.


So how are KFC using the hashtag #iatethebones?

1: Linking TV advert to social media

As well as reinforcing the catchphrase, the hashtag links the TV adverting to social media. You’ll notice the hashtag is displayed about halfway through the advert above. This is to capitalise on the popular habit of second-screening, using a mobile device while watching TV.


A hashtag prompt on the TV screen creates an simple point of reference for the viewer to find out more about a product on their mobile device while not having to get up from the comfort of their chair.

Notice that the hashtag is not placed just anyway on the screen. A lot of thought has gone into its placement to catch the viewer’s attention. If you look a the image above you’ll see the actor’s eyes, his hand and the straight straw all lead the viewer’s eyes down to the hashtag, which is highlighted in front of a dark blue Pepsi cup.

2: Collating contest entries

Always difficult to keep track of contest entries when you are encouraging the participants to use multiple social media platforms. This is when a hashtag becomes very useful, not only as a condition of entry, but as method of collating all the submissions on each network.

Below is an good example of one of the contest images submitted on Instagram using the hashtag. View more using the Instagram web viewer, Webstagram:


Of course KFC are getting a lot of spammers hijacking the hashtag for the purpose of promoting themselves or a product, and the inevitable derogatory brand comments are now appearing. Sadly this is unavoidable due to the nature of social media.

On the Twitter hashtag stream the ratio of contest entries to comments is about 1 to 100. And looking at some of the comments I wouldn’t say it is proving to be a resounding PR success for KFC.


3: Creating a community

Success on social media is all about creating a community. KFC’s use of hashtag helps with creating that community around a common cause- their “I ate the bones” contest.

A word of warning is that this strategy can sometimes go sour for a brand. KFC should pay heed to the McDonalds epic hashtag fail back in 2012. The burger chain’s attempt at community building and engagement with the #McDStories hashtag only succeeded in creating a location where social media users could have a dig at the brand.

Here are a couple of the comments posted on Twitter:


This PR disaster highlights the importance of having a good community management team in place before embarking on community building with a hashtag. When a hashtag hijack occurs, like the one McDonalds experienced, you have a chance at turning a negative situation into a postive.

For those brands of a nervous disposition, using just a Facebook app is the safest way to run a social media contest but will lack the brand exposure of using a hashtag on multiple platforms.

KFC are using a Facebook app powered by the social marketing platform Votigo as the home of their contest. Community building and engagement are still possible as the app has the option to vote for your favourite entries and share your decision via Twitter and Facebook. Another benefit of an app is data collection, which can be used for promotional purposes when the contest is over.


So far KFC reports the promotion as a success with a significant number of entires via Instagram and Vine. Sadly for us in the UK, the contest is only open to United States residents.

If you are reading this article in the US and are thinking of entering the contest, a tip from Rick Maynard, senior manager of public relations at KFC, for submitting a winning entry is to be creative, original, consistent with the brand image and enthusiastic. And don’t forget to mention the hashtag #Iatethebones.

I created the blog Muddywall to share social media trends, ideas, opinion and advice. I'm a social media specialist working with businesses, organisations and individuals to improve their social media communications. Happy to connect on any of my social media profiles.