TechMeme, McDonalds saw a 33% increase in foot traffic to its stores when it ran a promotion during Foursquare Day earlier this year. At that time, the fast food chain offered users who checked into McDonald's a chance to win $5 and $10 gift cards. On the Econsultancy blog, Meghan Keane reports that McDonald's head of social media Rick Wion claims that, "with this one little effort [$1000 in gift cards], we were able to get a 33% increase in foot traffic to the stores." These numbers, however, simply don't add up.According to a current headline on
There is clearly some confusion here about the numbers that Wion was talking about. Keane reports that McDonalds saw a 33% increase in check-ins from the day prior to Foursquare day and a 40% increase in check-ins for the week the special ran. Then, however, she goes on to quote Wion as saying that he "was able to go to some of our marketing people -- some of whom had never heard of Foursquare -- and say, 'Guess what. With this one little effort, we were able to get a 33% increase in foot traffic to the stores.'" It seems clear that Wion was talking about check-ins here and misspoke when he claimed that this campaign increased foot traffic by 33%.
Some of our colleagues, however, then took this number and ran with it - after all, a 33% increase in foot traffic to one of the world's largest brands because of one of the most over-hyped social media companies sure sounds like a good story.
Update: Rick Wion confirms that the increase was in check-ins, not foot traffic.
@adotas to clarify, the 33% increase was in the number of check-ins. We consider check-ins the same as a person entering the restaurant.
Why The Numbers Don't Add Up
Let's look at the numbers, though, and it's easy to see why Foursquare could never account for a 33% increase in foot traffic to McDonald's. In the U.S., McDonald's serves about 26 million customers per day. On FourSquare Day (4/16/2010), Foursquare had less than 1 million users. Clearly, the math doesn't add up here.
That said, though, a 33% increase in check-ins is not bad for a $1,000 investment. The question is whether this actually helped to bring new customers to McDonalds and increase customer loyalty remains unanswered. Clearly, though, Foursquare did not drive up foot traffic to McDonald's by 33%.