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Top Dog: Advocate Marketing and America's Hot Dogs

92% of Americans buy hot dogs. With 7 billion of those wieners consumed between Memorial Day and Labor Day, hot dog brands across the country have been ramping up their digital efforts to reach consumers this summer. Using the Crowdly platform, we sought out to find what brand has been the Top Dog on Facebook at engaging advocates, building community and growing brand love.

Here’s what we found:

  • Applegate, Ball Park Franks, Oscar Mayer and Hebrew National are the largest hot dog brand communities on Facebook

  • In those four communities, the majority of the hot dog-related conversation is driven by men (54%)

  • While Oscar Mayer has a base of brand advocates that largely skews female (80%), the majority of their engagement is tied to the brand’s Turkey Bacon product, considered a healthier option

  • Despite being the best-selling hot dog brand, Ball Park Franks has the fewest fans, lowest engagement and largest gender disparity (92% male) in its Facebook community

  • Hebrew National looks to be the most well-rounded of all Facebook communities, with the smallest gender disparity in its brand advocates (22%) and excellent, topical conversation among its members

Applegate

Photo Credit: Applegate Facebook Page

Most Engaged: Applegate

Applegate has more people talking about hot dogs in its Facebook community than any of the four brands we looked at. The natural & organic meat brand’s “Cleaner Weiners” are a big hit on social, especially with women. This bodes well for them, as the healthy eating trend is popular with that demographic. Nearly 50% of women say they want more green choices, and Applegate provides them with exactly that in their meat. In a slumping market (overall hot dog sales were down in 2013), natural and organic hot dog sales were up by more than 14%. With a base of 87% female advocates, the brand is using that to spread the word about its beef, as 86% of those fans discussing hot dogs are women. As the brand creeps up on close to a million likes, it has a serious opportunity to toast the competition with a targeted campaign towards its extremely engaged base of fans.

Most Influential: Hebrew National

Hebrew National’s Facebook fanbase is exactly what a healthy brand community should look like -- engaged, responsive and influential. By responding to comments, the brand keep conversation threads going and encourages others to chime in, share and like posts. Fans share everything from preferred condiments to grilling methods and that kind of engagement has made Hebrew National’s brand advocates extremely influential on the topic of hot dogs.

The visible advocacy couldn’t come at a better time for the kosher brand of beef, as kosher products are projected to generate $17 billion in sales in 2014. Even more encouraging is that only 15% of that customer base is doing so for religious reasons. Instead, consumers are seeking out kosher products for food quality, general healthfulness, and food safety. Those numbers must have ConAgra-owned Hebrew National excited at the potential as the summer winds down. Turns out, being the Chosen hot dog is looking good on the 115 year-old brand.

Most Likes: Oscar Mayer

As the former top dog, Oscar Mayer has lost ground to category leader Hillshire’s Ball Park Franks and now sits as the second highest grossing hot dog producer at $523 million. The brand has to do more than rely on its famed Weinermobile to sample its dogs to summer crowds if it wants to make up lost ground going into fall. It hopes the release of its Bacon Dogs will help the Kraft-owned brand overtake the $42 million of market share it lost. In a category worth $2.5 billion, there’s room for both brands to grow.

Despite the size of the category, more health-conscious consumers, higher beef costs and competitors like Nathan’s are gaining steam with heavily promoted national events. Oscar Mayer needs to utilize its large and diverse fanbase on social media to help it avoid the hot water. Luckily for the brand, the Ball Park Franks community has an advocate base that is nearly a third of its size. The opportunity to market Oscar Mayer products to a receptive and influential community is there for the taking.

Hot Dog infographic

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