Media Shower writer Chelse Hensley is well-known for her work in travel, food, and marketing. You can follow her on Twitter.

Let’s talk about Denny’s Diner, the pillar of social media branding. Yes, you read that right. Denny’s is a sizzling example of how a unique social media strategy can reach new customers, strengthen a relationship with existing customers, and ultimately drive sales for the company.

By browsing any Denny’s platform, any novice not wise to their social media savvy would assume that a teenager was behind the multimillion dollar brand, not a highly organized team of social experts. This could not be further from the truth. Denny’s is completely changing the game to cultivate a new type of customer – the millennial.

Mastering Platform Specific, Original Content

The diner is even one of the relatively few brands to tackle Tumblr, a social networking website aimed at teens and the coveted 18 -25 demographic. And not only does the company have a significant amount of followers, but boasts more engagement and interaction between the brand and followers than many of its competitors.

At the time of writing, the latest image published on Tumblr received 829 notes, or engagements, in only 3 hours.

Denny's content marketing

A take on the viral “hot dogs or legs?” craze.

Thanks to this bizarre social media strategy, Denny’s increased follow and fan growth to 1,053,904 “likes” on Facebook, 284,000 followers on Twitter, and 13,400 Instagram followers.

Although some platforms are stronger than others, it’s important to note that most of the content is platform original. Meaning, posts are created for a specific platform, and not shared across the board.

Enter Erwin Penland

Aside from the irreverent stream of consciousness from each account, what is the secret sauce to their success? What reads like a 17-year-old took over the marketing strategy is actually a well-oiled machine that is carefully crafted by some of the greatest creators at agency Erwin Penland in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The brains behind the keyboard at Erwin Penland plan content around holidays or cultural events in real time that people will be talking about online, such as a new iPhone launch or “The Dress” phenomenon of 2015.


Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy for Erwin Penland, Kevin Purcer has said of his team’s strategy to

“Of course, the social strategy isn’t all eccentric fun and games. Each platform is used specifically to suit the individual audience and demographic.”

For instance, its Facebook could be mistaken for any other unassuming, mainstream business page. A timeline featuring contests, menu specials, and charity initiatives that appeal to Facebook’s older, more traditional generation of users. Instagram is what you can expect, delicious food photos that entice users to visit the restaurant. Tumblr and Twitter feature a myriad of colorful content gems that pique curiosity and engagement for each of the platforms’ younger audience and infused with strong references to popular culture and comedic masterpieces.

Of course on Twitter, there are character restrictions, so tweets must be attention-grabbing and concise. But their Tumblr gives Erwin Penland the creative freedom to hit the ground running with animated gifs, limericks, and photo-centric posts.

“My team knows we can’t just try and sell people burgers, pancakes and eggs so we try to feed them in other ways. Give them a smile, a laugh or just a small memorable moment.” – Kevin Purcer, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy for Erwin Penland.

Denny’s is truly setting the pace for how restaurants can create a grand slam social media strategy that can become any brand’s bread and butter. Who are your favorite brands on social media? Let us know in the comments! Interested in beefing up your brand? Find out how our service works.