Make Them Hungry

How Denny’s has created a funny, engaging, and authentic Twitter presence.

America’s diner is always open, so says the Denny’s slogan. Denny’s also boasts one of the best and most consistently engaging corporate Twitter feeds. That is no small potatoes.


Food puns aside, finding engagement on social media, specifically Twitter, can be difficult for even the most established brands. Robotic sales pitches on Twitter feeds are the new junk mail. Even when the products and services in question have their virtues, those benefits are too easily lost in the shuffle.

To paraphrase a speaker at a conference I recently attended, Twitter gives brands the time it takes a user to flick his/her thumb across a mobile screen to make an impression. With new updates every second, it takes something special, something different to engage people.

The Denny’s Strategy

Denny’s serves diner food that is cheap, quick, and consistent. Plus, it serves breakfast 24/7. And although its food is cooked-to-order on-site, Denny’s outsources its social channels to a third-party firm, which shares a social media vision with Denny’s that creates a Twitter presence that is both amusing and effective.

Brand voices are changing on Twitter and other social media platforms. Companies are trying to be more authentic, more in touch with consumers. That’s what Denny’s has done. That’s what many brands have done. Some, spectacularly:


Oreos sent this in February 2013 during the Super Bowl when the stadium lights inexplicably turned off. It’s been retweeted more than 15,000 times and was one of the defining moments of the night.

Other brands haven’t been so successful.


This attempt by Jimmy John’s to take a popular meme and apply it to food sales ended up being more confusing than funny.

And then there’s Denny’s. The diner communicates its masterful understanding of its purpose through humor and self-awareness. Scroll down the Twitter feeds of any number of brands and the posts feel like they come from parents trying hard to relate to their teenage children.

At Denny’s, tweets are topical without pandering to trends; funny without taking shots. Above all else, its Twitter feed sounds like conversations that actually take place over plates of Denny’s food. It feels honest and deserving of users’ trust. It would never, like McDonald’s, flood my feed with mentions of its new #AllDayBreakfast.


And that’s what makes Denny’s social media presence effective. It never forgets, not for one second, that its purpose is not to pitch its food, but to make its users hungry.

And once that’s done, guess what? … America’s diner is always open.


October 8, 2015

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