Lenny's News and Interviews

Restaurant chains chomp at the social media space

February 28, 2011

by Jessica Jimenez

For many, social media is an inescapable facet of personal and professional life. This relatively new medium allows businesses to reach customers instantly and conveniently, while at the same time creating an avenue for immediate feedback. The restaurant industry has been experimenting more with social media and working on establishing a connection with a chain’s “fan base” on Facebook.

In the midst of the Taco Bell beef fiasco, the company took to its Facebook page to thank customers for their support and offer “fans” a coupon for a free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco. While utilizing social media to quickly “set the record straight,” Taco Bell was also able to express its appreciation for consumer loyalty to the group.

I don’t know if the coupon campaign helped ease anyone’s beef concerns, but social technology worked to the company’s advantage to communicate their desired response to the lawsuit ASAP. Essentially addressing the situation on their terms allowed Taco Bell to speak directly to its social media following versus letting the suit spotlight take over.

Restaurant chains are also relying on social media outlets to advertise free food promotions and establish an open dialogue with customers. Lenny’s Sub Shopoffered its Facebook fans a free half-pound sub sandwichthis month and, as a result, noticed an increase of “likes” on their page. The promotion was part of the chain’s broader focus on regional advertising and generating more visitor traffic to its locations. Lenny’s President Brent Alvord noted that, “We’re much more about creating the long-term relationship than being a discount trough.”

At last week’s International Franchise Association’s convention, social media was listed as one of the “hot topics” on the agenda. Social technology was emphasized as a means to network with consumers and not inundate them with “social-media selling.” Businesses can struggle with this concept when deciding what content to communicate with customers and how frequently to do so. Conversation topics that engage the social media audience and ask for one’s opinion usually produce the type of dialogue companies are looking for.

While many may “like” a restaurant’s Facebook page solely for the free food coupons, businesses seem to have realized how valuable a tool the social media space can be.

Contact Lenny's Public Relations:

Jenna Duett
Marketing and PR Manager
(901) 753-4002